A close look at the times that went by

A close look at the times that went by

We grew up under different skies to a different regimen. Life was all about thrift, discipline and doing without bought pleasures

We grew up under different skies to a different regimen. Life was all about thrift, discipline and doing without bought pleasures. We got up every day, as the Nobel prize winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro says "to something that will just be there always like tomorrow's sky" on a note of optimism.

The bird on the wing, the tree in leaf, the nodding flower, the riotous spill of colour on the horizon were a matter of wonder. The joie de vivre of it all!

The chant of prayers, the redolent flavours of food floating in from the kitchen, the sheltering warmth and love of home, made life complete. We learned to read, write and learn with the joy that is at the heart of all true learning.

We read the classics, we read Mills and Boon romances, comics and quoted lines of poetry. School and college libraries were well stocked. Books were our diversion as well as the games on the play field, whether it was badminton or basketball or just seven tiles or the plain hopscotch. It was not whether we won or lost but how we played the game.

Parents and elders taught us civilities and values that we still carry with us and our teachers taught us how to live through books and the delights of being young.

We discovered the greatness of Shakespeare who spoke to us across the chasm of centuries as the measure of all great writing and Jane Austen who raised the English country romances to the level of great literature, and Dickens who created characters ranging from the young and the innocent David Copperfield, to the comical Micawber to the completely bizarre and villainous Uriah Heep.

History was not a dreary calendar of dates and events but was lit up with the radiance of imagination. The heroes of the battlefield, kings and emperors, diplomats and statesmen marched through the pages of our books and we learnt that we must reckon with the past to live in the present and look into the future. Geography was more than maps and boundaries and inspired us with a sense of wanderlust.

Though we were told often enough there is virtue in hard work or perseverance {Virtus in Ardus} nor did we experience a killjoy discipline, it was something that regulated our lives without robbing us of the joys of childhood.

The ability to discern the universe in a speck of sand, to see everything through the prism of hope , to see variety in everyday life and the abundance of simple pleasures all around made us feel special and secure.

It is a matter of regret that today a generation of youngsters, impoverished in spirit, hemmed in by technology, and a dearth of time, in hot pursuit of pastures and goals that keep receding like mirages , stand robbed of the joy in living and learning. Have we not robbed them of their humanity, and imagination ? Are we not all responsible for this malaise?

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