Rajul, after a rather hectic and stressful day in office and having spent an hour on the waterlogged road through snail paced traffic was in foul mood when he reached home. His temper went through the roof seeing his teenage son, Sidhu, short for Shidhartha, playing games on his laptop. How can Sidhu, a class 12 student with final board exams in few months time while away his time like that? Rajul threw his office bag on the sofa and stood in front of Sidhu expecting some reactions from him but Sidhu just looked up once and concentrated on his game. What arrogance! Rajul thought.
“What are you doing, Sidhu?” Rajul asked without hiding his irritation.
“Playing game, Dad” Sidhu replied calmly.
“Is it time to play games?” Rajul continued in the same tone.
“I can’t keep studying the whole day, Dad.” Sidhu too replied calmly.
“Oh, yeah, I forgot you are a bookworm and study 18 hours a day.” Rajul said sarcastically and the continued “Then why doesn’t your result reflect your intellect?”
“Is there any rule that all exam results should be good?” Sidhu folded his laptop and got up from the sofa. He then asked in a plain voice, “Did you score good marks in all your life exams?”
Rajul was getting angrier by the demeanor of Sidhu, this new generation has no respect for the elders, he thought to himself.
“Sidhu, you argue too much. You have no sense of respect for the elders.” He said sharply.
Without waiting for a reply, Rajul started walking towards the bedroom and realized Ishita, his wife hasn’t come home as yet.
“You didn’t answer my question Dad.” Sidhu said in even tone.
Rajul turned back and came face to face with Sidhu. Putting his hand on son’s shoulder he said, “No, I couldn’t and that is the reason I dream for you to achieve all that I missed out.”
“Don’t you think that you are putting me under some unrealistic, perhaps impossible to carry out load on me?” Sidhu asked.
“Load, what are you saying?”
“Yes Dad. You want me to achieve what you couldn’t, is that fair? Can two individuals have the same goals in life?” Sidhu persisted with his line of argument.
“No, Sidhu, it is not like that, we want you to be a good human being.” Ishita is back from office and probably had heard part of the Son-Dad conversation and could not help interjecting.
“Good point, Mom, what or who is a good human? I simply do not understand this concept of good human being!” Sidhu now directed his query to his mother.
Ishita stopped by the dining table to have water and then lowered the temperature of the air conditioner and said, “Good human being means, a person who has humanity in the core of his/ her heart.”
“Are you guys’ good human?” Sidhu asked with a half smile on his face.
“What do you mean?” Ishita asked irritatingly.
“Now, please don’t take it otherwise, some time back, Dad had sold off the land in our village and given the money Debashish uncle who was economically a poor relations of ours. At that time, if you would recall Mom, you had created a ruckus. I was in class 9 at that time and I remember how many times you have since made sarcastic remarks about Dad being a fool.” Sidhu said a little agitated.
Rajul looked at Ishita who had gone pale at Sidhu’s outburst.
“Sidhu!” Ishita shouted at her son, “Don’t speak nonsense. Why are you bringing them in the conversation? Did Debashish or his wife Priyanka called up today? Why do they want to create rift in my family?”
“Relax Mom, I just remembered the incidence when you said about being good human. No one called today or any other day. I also remember, few days after that, you had taken me to some function of a charitable organization where you had donated a large some. At the function, you were photographed with a leading film actress as well.” Sidhu was all guns blazing.
“Yes, I did get clicked with the actress and the money that I donated was mine, why should anyone have any problem with that?” Ishita was unrelenting too.
A few years back Ishita had donated a large sum of money to a charitable trust hoping to get into limelight without informing Rajul and when he confronted her, she had given somewhat similar reply to Rajul who had kept quiet to maintain family peace.
“No, Mom, no one can object to your donating your own money to anyone but I was little surprised that day. I thought how come you could donate such large amount for the benefit of some unknown people but have so much resistance when it comes to your own relations?” Sidhu said calmly.
“Don’t talk rubbish, Sidhu. Your Debashish uncle is not a poor guy and you don’t understand family politics. They made a fool of your Dad and usurped the money. But, I see you have a very good memory, you will do well if you use this memory in studies.” Ishita replied, last words being sarcastic.
“Is it necessary to do well in studies to be a good human being?” Sidhu was hell bent in having an upper hand over his parents. He thought for while and continued “There is politics and competition involved too in getting a good result. You have been telling me since my childhood days how to get things done at the cost of others. There was this First Boy Tuhin in my class (5) whom I never liked as a person because of his strong ego. I liked Sujoy, an average boy with average result. You used tell me to shun the average boys and be friends with the toppers of the class. You became friends with Tuhin’s Mom just to get to know the secret formula of his success. On my birthdays, you would invite the toppers of my class and ignore the likes of Sujoys’. Only once you allowed Sujoy to come over to our home and that was when I moved from the earlier school to this elite English Medium Public School.” Sidhu stopped having spoken his mind.
“I think, changing your school was the biggest mistake. I thought, you will learn manners and will respect the elders but you have become a rebel and undisciplined. At your age, we couldn’t even think of speaking like this with our parents.” Ishita retorted.
“You are unnecessarily getting angry Mom. This is nothing but generation gap. We, youngsters speak our mind; we talk straight without any complexity. Your generation can’t.” Sidhu laughed and continued “You know Mom, we are very straight forward generation. You guys are a confused lot, neither you could leave the old theories and concepts nor could embrace the newer concepts wholeheartedly. You have been carrying on the load of mix-n-match based on your likings.”
Ishita was really boiling now and shouted “Who filled your brain with such rubbish?”
“This is not rubbish Mom, but hard reality. And for your information, Arush Agarwal of my class said this very rightly.” Sidhu was calm in his response.
“These Baniya good-for-nothing kids are vitiating the school atmosphere. They know, irrespective of their result, a readymade business awaits them at the end of graduation. They have no culture other than business and corruption” Ishita said with full of guile.
Sidhu laughed out loudly. “Why are you laughing?” Ishita retorted.
“A while ago you were talking about respecting others, look at yourself Mom! Without knowing about Arush’s background, you commented not just on his family but the whole lot of them. His father is a chartered accountant and mother is a doctor. And aren’t Bongs corrupt? Please think it over, Mom.” Sidhu replied.
“Oh, then it is settled. Both the parents are making money handsomely!!” Ishita was again sarcastic. She then continued “Listen Sidhu, his parents have enough money to put him through any university but your Dad & I are not so rich, so concentrate in your studies if you want good grades.”
“My Dad and you too earn pretty decent amount, we live in a plush apartment in an upscale locality, we have two cars and we have made 2-3 foreign trips as well. If we were not rich, how could we afford all these? Whatever you may say Mom, I know very well that you will definitely enroll me in some good university after my schooling.” Sidhu started laughing and walking towards his room.
Ishita shouted at Sidhu’s back “So, you already are assuming so much? Please be aware, we are not going to spend every penny that we have saved on your education and furthering your career. You have to work hard and be on your own. The ways you are talking now, don’t know how you will behave once you become an Engineer or an MBA? We can’t really depend on you.”
Sidhu came out of his room and spoke very calmly, “Why can’t you speak the truth, Mom? Actually, you have too many shattered dream yourself and that is why, you are afraid to trust me, my generation. A while ago you were talking of becoming a good human being, forget it Mom, I don’t know, if I will remain even a human being! All because, we are a robot generation and you have made us robots.”
Without waiting for any answer, Sidhu went back to his room and shut the door firmly. Rajul kept looking at the now closed door of Sidhu and thought, how time flies, the little one has grown up to be a mature and self-assured youth. But soon his thoughts were broken by Ishita’s voice, “It is all because of your pampering that the boy could lecture me in front you. You just stood there like a wooden statue, I can’t believe this!”
“There’s no point blaming him or his generation” Rajul spoke up “We have failed to instill values in our children. I remember my childhood; we were living in a joint family – my grandfather and his brother staying together with respective family under the same roof. My mother rebelled saying she cannot live in a joint family with so much interference from so many people. My Dad moved to Kolkata along with grandpa-grandma ensuring I get to grow up playing with them and listening stories from them. Then, one day I too got married, by which time grandpa & grandma have passed away, you came in to my life and surprisingly you too repeated the same and said you cannot stay in such claustrophobic place, there’s no unanimity of thoughts. Wasn’t that a generation gap, Ishita? Two years down the line Sidhu was born and we shifted to this plush south Kolkata apartment leaving my parents at the old house. But did we achieve peace? On the contrary, instead of a cohesive family, you and I became rivals in an invisible game of one-upmanship. Our egos are more pronounced than ever before. Sidhu have grown up in this scenario, how can you even expect that he would have the values of a bygone era. We have provided him with the best of all amenities except a value system. Today, the concept of being good human is a clichéd middle class mentality.” Rajul sat down on the sofa having spoken at length.
“So, what it is going to be, an unfulfilled, frustrated life to live?” Ishita cried.
Rajul had no answer for Ishita but he knew there are many like them – frustrated parents of a frustrated generation looking at the ticking clock for a miracle to happen.