The changing life
Yesterday in the dying moments of day I was sitting at the window of my bedroom watching the sun go down on the horizon. The white sun of noon was replaced by the reddish sun of the evening. The sun rays had lost their eye burning harshness and sunshine was little dim. The shadow of the trees had attained gigantic size and sun rays seemed dancing in between the fluttering branches of the tall trees casting a beautiful pattern of dark and white bands against the deep grey background of soil.
A pleasant evening breeze began to blow giving a little respite from scorching heat of the day. The breeze was so refreshing that it could bring back dead to life. At a distance, from where I was sitting was placed a rope tied hard to two wooden poles. Clothes, hung on the rope for drying, were dancing merrily in the breeze giving company to the jiving tree tops and bopping grass underneath. The birds were flying back in flocks to their nests for night stay after a daylong toil.
The shepherds were on their way back to their homes along with their herd. Whole world was getting ready for the night except for the nocturnal beings. The dusk of diurnal mark the break of the dawn for them. The king of the dark, the owl, in his nest was shaking his feathers, cleaning his talons and hooting in triumph as if announcing that it was his time now and that the night belongs to him alone. Down on the ground among the floral world the queen of night began to open its petals.
As I kept watching the sinking sun in the horizon few dulcet gurgles knocked my ear drum forcing my attention to turn to the laughing faces of a few young girls playing in the courtyard of my house. The girls were playing Antakshri. To begin with, first a girl was reciting a verse from a poem and the opponent had sixty seconds to reply with a verse that began with the same letter that ended the beginner’s.
It didn’t took me long to realize that the Antakshri of these girls was nothing but the modified form of Sherjangi of our school days. The tallest girl seemed enjoying a strong grip on the poetry as every time she outplayed her opponents with much ease.
The laughing of these girls served a knock at the doors of reminisce world of the bygone days of my childhood when things were simple, people were real and relationships true in my part of globe. It is the time when men enjoyed authority and women enjoyed honor, when father was feared and respected and mother was loved and cared. When modern names were not known and introduced into our vocabulary. When “grandpa” was “Babeh” and “grandma” was “Aapeh”, when ” father” was “Toteh” and “mother” was “Moji”, when elder brother was “baitouth” and “elder sister” was “bainteath”, when “Baya was ” Bairaj” and “Didi” was “Ded”, when son was “nikkeh” and daughter was “nichh” , when maternal uncle and aunt were respectively “Maam and Mamee”.
I am talking about the time when the man with syringe and scissors was doctor sahab and the one in black coat was wakeel sahab ( Lawyer), when the most learned was master- g (the teacher) and most ignorant was kharr( donkey). Yes, I am in talk of the days when teacher was feared more than a ferocious hundred horned monster of Daddy’s fairy tales and mere mention of teacher would silence an acutely annoyed kid to peace in jiffy.
When mother was home maker and father was bread earner, when the school going children were taught to be independent and prepare them for school each day. When private schools were fewer and children of affluent and the poor would read together in the same government school.
When mornings would begin with praying and reciting holy book and ended with going to jungle by mothers in villages. When every house hold in villages had at least a cow yet milk-less Kehawa, a sugary drink, was most liked and deemed a mark of respect to guests. Kehwa was prepared in Samovar, which is a copper kettle, by boiling tea leaves with saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, sugar and sometimes dried rose petals.
I could not escape but remember how in the evening time, away from the hustle and bustle of the village, the magical, glamorous and stunning bevy of young unmarried ladies would sing their hearts out at the top of their lungs as if lamenting their sad love tales. Their beautiful faces, the rosy cheeks, the red lips, the long black hairs waving in air, and the attractive hazel eyes still cage my heart.
Their magical smile could make anyone speechless and their enchanting beauty could accelerate the pounding of heart in the chest of young men in desire. Their tone was soft as summer rain and songs were sweet as the melody of cuckoo bird. The song
“Gaste wesiye lal chumma dorey
Me chu Moray lalwun nar
‘Go, my friend, my love stay far away’
‘I have to nurture the fire of love everyday’ still play in my ears.
Delicacy prepared by a family was shared with immediate neighbours and walls had not yet separated the courtyards. Dinner was a get together of family members. A long sheet of cloth was laid out on the floor and all family members would sit along its border with their plates of cooked rice and bowl of cooked vegetables and meat. Daily life trifles were discussed and politics was mystery to a common man. Children had marble balls to play and idiot box was accessible only to adults.
While I was submerged in the memory of past, the Magrib time had already arrived. Mouzin gave call for the prayer and “Allah-O-Akbar’ pulled me back to the current times. I came down from the window and out of the house I began to walk towards the Masjid (mosque) to offer the prayer. On the way to mosque I wonder how everything in our life has changed so fast and drastically.
We have become more western and less Kashmiri. Our own culture has become alien to us. We have become more materialistic and proportionally less religious. Now putting on loose clothes is associated with primitiveness and wearing tight clothes has become fashion of the day. Though it is forbidden in Islam for a woman to wear tight clothing which shows her charm, yet so called modern girls do it with all their heart.
Wealth has now become our priority and humanity has lost its value .Virtues like empathy, sympathy, love, affection and care are only words now. Relationships have become superficial and there is shallowness in people’s feelings. Elders have lost respect, aged parents are a burden and old age homes have become their final abode in the world. Mobile phones have given us thousands of techno-friends but we sans to have a single real friend in our neighborhood. Now, we know about the well being of Mr David from America while our neighbour Ahmad’s hardships and disease is unknown to us. We care for the widowed mother from Indonesia but the apathy of widow living right under our nose is going unnoticed.
The kids who, as said earlier, had no access to TV sets only two decades ago now have high RAM mobile phones in their hands. The excess use of these mobile phones not only waste their precious time but have exposed them to easily accessible harmful pornographic stuff on internet. It tore my heart to see how we are lost and not remained what we used to be in past.
Misty eyed I stepped into the mosque and offered my Salah (prayer)
(The author is a teacher by profession and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)