I have noticed one curious thing about the ‘good old times’ that people go on and on harping about. They ALWAYS are in the past and never ever in the present. It may be a period 50 years ago, or 30, may be 20 or just a decade or at times even one bally year ago (depending on the age of the ‘harper’), but it has to be behind you at all costs for it to get the ‘golden days’ tag. It seems the present by its very presence is BAD, just the way the Big Bad West is by its mere existence, to many Indians.
Strange, considering that we live in the present how no one finds anything good in it. Listening to these Singers of Past Glories, one would think they had the good fortune to live in some truly golden age and they led a wonderful life that those in the present can only dream of, never mind if those in the present are not in the least bit interested in living that life.
I know a little little secret though.
People are simply confusing nostalgia about their own good personal experiences as ‘golden’ period in time as such. Nothing could be further from the truth. Besides, any time period can be given the ‘golden’ tag only by disinterested and objective observers at some future date, not by subjective longing of those holding fond memories of the same.
Personally I don’t find anything to make a song and dance about the years of the past that I have known. There were authoritarian parents around whose word was law (the norm), women had no voice at all, nobody thought there was anything wrong if the husband abused his wife, children were caned in schools and homes, diarrhea, chicken pox, mumps, measles, and other illnesses were rampant, widows were considered ill-omen and ill-treated, caste system made living hell for a huge section of the population, many sections of society including women did not have any rights at all, communication was difficult with no telephones, once someone left home, you just hoped they reached their destination safely till the snail mail got you news about them weeks later. I could go on and on.
From those days, things have changed a lot for the better in the present. Caning children, domestic violence, caste system, have all been recognised as things we should put an end to. At least some of us have stopped justifying violence. Communication is easier in the present. Women are getting educated, holding jobs, can travel by themselves, have choices. Superstitions do not rule lives as much as before though some educated people are doing their best to keep it alive. The rights of workers and socially backward are recognized. We have a long way to go, but at least we are started and are in a wee bit better way than before.
I agree, the present has its flaws too that need correction. So that’s what we should set about doing. But, was there ever a perfect past except in people’s imagination? I don’t think so. As for me, I’d never want to go back, only forward, because I believe THAT is where better times are.