‘Kids these days are sick and mentally ill! What is wrong with them? We never even dreamt of such a thing or we’d be skinned alive!’ his enraged father had shouted at the top of his lungs when he had heard of a friend’s teenage son caught with some ‘bad’ magazines. ‘They should all be hospitalized and given shock treatment, I say…’ he had continued under Sagar’s watchful gaze to try and drive home the point that the certain topics were off limits. That had put an effective end to all of Sagar’s questions and endless pondering surrounding ‘certain topics’ from the home front.
There was always someone who knew more than Sagar about these issues. If it was not his elder cousins then it was his younger brother. It seemed impossible to completely understand what exactly everyone was trying to hide with such passion. And why was it considered a terrible thing to discuss? Woven into a social fabric that did not allow free talk of ‘certain topics’, Sagar had to rely on the bits and pieces of random information he would get from these so called ‘veterans’ in the field. The sad part, however, would be that Sagar’s query list would only increase with each discovery. And sadly enough those queries would remain unanswered for a long time.
‘Oh they just have to be with each other. That’s all. Nine months later the baby arrives’ said one genius. The other would revise that version with a more polished ‘They drink something which makes babies appear’ which according to Sagar seemed a lot reasonable than the first one. A few more versions involved everything from babies growing on ‘special trees’ to babies being hatched out of ‘special eggs’ that the mother would have to eat with her food. Despite all this if there was one common strand it seemed to be that the man and woman had to be together for any of these formulae to work. Sagar found this process fascinating yet very complex.
More light dawned upon his eager mind as he bombarded his poor Biology teacher who reluctantly discussed ‘The Reproductive System’ at school one day. No one had their hands up more than our dear man as he pounded the lady with his ‘designer queries’. As the girls giggled amongst themselves and the boys threw paper balls at him, Sagar braved it out to try and figure out the clue which held this puzzle in place. Many had officially labeled him the ‘class clown’ since most of this questions were funny. The teacher’s responses to them were funnier. All his efforts to try and capture the true meaning of ‘certain topics’ had been in vain since all the technical jargon had not made much sense to him.
Circa 1997 was the ‘grand technology invasion’ in India. A time where information was said to be on the fingertips of the common man. A time when the Internet was becoming a popular mode to gain and retain knowledge. A time when Sagar would, for the first time in his life, depend on a computer to completely understand the ins and outs of ‘certain topics’. As sad as this seemed that he was getting more information from a machine than his own kin, Sagar was learning nonetheless. He realized half of what he had heard was a big pile of partial gibberish. The other half was just plain wrong.
Sagar is approaching his 30s now. Nothing more left out there for him to learn about ‘certain topics’. Everything from literature to graphic representations has made way into his knowledge base. Looking back at the nature of the topic though, he wonders what the big deal really was. He is saddened by the fact that he had to go through more than a decade of endless exploration to learn what he now knows. The near-mortal mental torture he had to put up with seems unfair. He feels like smiling when he realizes he has learnt more than he had ever wanted to thanks to the ‘fingertip tech’. The whole process of growing out of that awkward stage of risky ignorance seems a joke when compared to the ease with which material is available today. He also realizes that if he were put in a position to educate a young mind some day he probably will not threaten to skin him for bringing up ‘certain topics’.
He would probably be doing the young soul a favor by opening up this Pandora’s Box anyway. The sooner the better, isn’t it.