Happy returns of the day

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By Tinky Ningombam

I like February. It is my birthday month. My birthday is perhaps the only day in the year that I remember vividly year after year. And I bet it is true mostly for everyone.

But this birthday unlike all birthdays to me struck as a sad reminder of how old I was becoming. Being on the wrong side of 20’s is always hard for people. Seeing Talent Shows aggravates the frustration. What with genius kids and teenage billionaires.

This world idolizes the youth. I have said this before. And sadly the age of youth is shrinking every year, as statistically agreed on by multi-billion dollar organizations who produce more “Youth-reviving” products. People are aging faster nowadays. Apparently it seems that 20 is the new 30. It is no fun thinking about inching day by day towards your expiry-date.

So when I decided to have a quiet Birthday this year at home, people assumed that I have aged. Because people with a LIFE apparently need to party till dawn or have confetti strewn photos of them posted on the social walls.

Honestly, two weeks after my birthday, I have finally come to terms with myself on a lot of things. I am glad that I have grown older. I am glad that things are clearer in my head; that I can understand and perceive things. I do not just have vague clues of what my future looks like. I somehow enjoy the thrill of the uncertainties in life now rather than get scared of what would happen to me.

I am glad that I am not a kid anymore; more so, because of the fact that now I don’t necessarily succumb to peer pressure. I don’t need to prove myself cool to be accepted or join a gang fight just to show how tough I am. I don’t need to pretend to be OK with sexist jokes made by older people in the family or be quiet when blamed for things just because we were kids. I am just glad that the storm has passed.

Nowadays, I think that all young people, esp. teens suffer from ADHD: Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity (sic). Maybe we were too, at some point, but observing from the watchtower is definitely an eye-opener. Most of them cannot listen to others or read what others write or hear what others say. They are hyper-active and get impatient and restless to a degree that can be harmful for others around them. We have also driven it thus far, we have always made it into a race, where only the fast and the furious survive.

But with age, you find that people are more tolerant to listen to arguments. What I have gained by this serendipitous journey is something that no book or philosopher can teach me. It is the best gift of age: WISDOM.

And WISDOM is not defined by bookish knowledge or your university medals; it is defined by how sensitive you are to different situations and different people. And in my definition of the wise, I do not consider those who have prejudices and ego-tripping superiority complex. Those cannot be wise, who treat people according to how rich they are, or how influential they can be. Those cannot be wise, who do not treat their women and children as equal and as privileged as they themselves are.

I have seen many a college-educated person jump the gun and say things that are completely off-topic or completely wrong. This is not bound by age: the stupidity. It is god-given or DNA induced.

A very apt example – On yesterday’s incident about the girl and a guy being assaulted in Delhi, the people who commented online on most of the news links assumed that the girl was dressed in a certain way. Now only a person with zero IQ will trivialize the situation commenting on how the girl was dressed.  To them I address today “How can you expect a better society when you are ignorant yourself? Being ungracious for the democracy that allows you to voice your opinion and using it to vent out your personal frustration guising it as a justified war-cry of some sort. It is not right to blame or shame the victim just because you are sexist, molded by stereotypes your entire short-lived life. People who haven’t understood what basic human rights means, people who judge other people because they were judged themselves, you, yes, you have the right to shut up!”

Why does it feel that the people who write or say such atrocious and crazy things come to our view but those who are intelligent and know the right from wrong are always quiet? Sometimes I think that there is no point wasting my time arguing with people who cannot understand. I bet that is what everyone thinks of. But as I grow older, I argue with these nincompoops, WHY? , because if someone doesn’t tell them they are wrong, they will think they are right.

And as my birthday bubble is on the verge of bursting, I whole- heartedly confess that being young has never meant quite the same to me. Youth never meant “looking good”, “being a party-animal” or “being an adventure junkie”. I was old-schooled, in many ways; my youth to me meant dependence, uncertainty, naivety. But while I meet new people, deal new situations, build more relationships; my evolved perception of youth is that, it is qualified by the amount of energy you spend in LIVING. And in that aspect, I am young and believe to be forever young. As Casey Stengel says “The trick is growing up without growing old”.

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