Of Bears and Squirrels

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By Tinky Ningombam

“Why don’t we have a little game? Let’s pretend that we’re human beings, and that we’re actually alive.”

Jimmy Porter, Look Back in Anger

There are a lot of things that you see and read that leads you to a circumspection of your life . John Osborne’s 1959 play “Look Back in Anger” was one such that caused a stirring. It is a play about the angst of Jimmy Porter, his inner struggles as an unsuccessful middle class Englishman, stuck with an ordinary life, with ordinary problems and with no hope of change.

Apart from the fact that human connections and sentiments are universal, they also follow a pattern. People put ideas into our heads, it transforms into a thought that grows with everything that surrounds us till we finally find ourselves on the threshold. This implodes to a conviction, leading to our action. We however hope to break the monotony of this action until something so extraordinary impacts us that inspire us to change our life course. For a typical girl in a middle class Meetei family, such words are idealistic. Such epiphanies may be mundane for the “better-lot”, not us! And it is sad that we live in such times: times of hopelessness. Where there are no Leaders, where there is no common cause. Where people have become materialistic with no civic duty, where one gets to choose between money & home, success & peace of mind.

My life is better than a whole lot of struggling youngsters trying to get a decent life, fighting everyday to set up a home in some alien city, with random strangers every day. And by and by, we are witnessing an angry generation. A young, modern idealistic generation, forgotten and sucked into mundane lives, a lot which wants to give something back to a society but who do not know how to. We have become nonchalant, mediocre and ordinary. I say this as a concerned citizen, as a Manipuri, self-exiled because there is no job at home fit for me. How many such people are stuck away without a choice, just like Jimmy Porter in the play, in a small one-room apartment, believing nothing can change for them ?

And everyone that I talk to is angry. The entire generation is angry. And all I hear are complaints, waiting to be addressed. Angry about unemployment, about atrocities, about people killing other people, about poverty, about politics, about education. Rants and empty rants. And I see the naivity, to be happy with getting crumbs in the name of answers. But why are we happy with so less and by living in pretentions, satisfied with the ordinary? Playing games with our lives just like Jimmy Porter does with his wife, the game of Bears and Squirrels, a make-belief world where everything is hunky dory. In the mornings we forget about these problems, these problems which are not OUR own and we go on with our lives as though everything is alright, away from a place which once we called home.

And with these thoughts I ask myself if it is not too late to give back something to the society? Isn’t it time?

(Tinky Ningombam is a idealistic day-dreamer who grew up in Imphal, Manipur. Apart from working as a PR Manager in one of India’s leading Public Relations Company, she likes to hosts debates at her rented apartment in New Delhi. She holds an MA in English Literature from Delhi University and is a graduate from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication.)

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