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The other day I heard an impassioned speech of sorts from a mother of two teen-aged daughters. She was reminiscing about her own childhood, the neighborhood she lived in, the neighbors, friends, the games they played, what filled her with joy, awe etc etc. What days those were. So many memories to go back and relive in one’s mind, she said. But, she added rather glumly, ‘what memories will these children of mine possibly have when they are my age?!

The complaint she was voicing is the same that I hear from parents all around me, about children glued to television, their game consoles, Facebook, but most of all WhatsApp. They forever have their head bent over their cell phones, texting. What memories can they possibly have? I can almost see a lot of you shaking your head in agreement, that is if you are not one of those young persons who does all of the above a lot.

Predictably, I disagree with the woman. Of course the children will have memories, of whatever they do, be it watching TV, playing video games and yes, texting too. Just because these are not your preferred memories does not mean they will not be cherished memories for others. The problem is many people cannot imagine being in their children’s shoes, so cannot understand what possibly can be worthy of a memory in their life.

I told her, ‘They, will have their OWN memories! (left unsaid, ‘distinct from hers’). I mean, look at it this way, are our memories of the same stuff as our mother’s memories are made of? No. Are they any less important because of that? No. Then why expect or want our children to have similar ones to ours? Duh.

Anyways, memories cannot be tailor-made by parents for children, nor planned for them by insisting they do the same things that the parents did. Even if by some magic we were to give children the exact life we led, their memories would still be different. What we carry into the future as memories depends on us as individuals. You only have to ask siblings about their home to know how different memories can be of the same events and similar upbringing.

“But, what memories can those who don’t communicate have?” she asked me. Well, isn’t whatsapping a form of communication? I bet there was a generation that decried talking on the phone as, ‘what sort of communication is this?’ and one even before that which said letter writing was a poor sort of communication between humans.

Texting may not be the way WE communicated during our times, BEFORE cell phones, WhatsApp or Facebook came on the scene, but how is it any less of a way of communication? Couldn’t memories of children constitute the WhatsApp conversations they have had with their friends? How can you dismiss it as ‘a memory of no consequence’ just because that hadn’t been the way you did it? By the way how do you even know what the future holds, whether people want to have memories even? Or if they can choose memories from a menu, like ice-creams or pizza? Anything could happen, you know.

That brings me to this. I have come to evaluate people on the basis of statements they make about the future from their limited knowledge of it, a knowledge they are not even prepared to expand, almost as if they know where we (humans) are headed, what tomorrow holds for us. In spite of having seen a lot of changes in the short span of our own generation people have the audacity to make sweeping statements about a future they know practically nothing about.

Anyone who laments shows a severe lack of ability to stand back and see the bigger picture because, lets face it, every goddamn generation has said the very same thing about the next. How about showing some individuality and singing a new song?

©Shail Mohan 2015

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