Tuesday, October 31, 2006

'Certain Topics'

The grunt of frustration from his parents would become all too familiar for Sagar as the days rolled by. Every time an 'A' feature showed up on their modest ‘Doordarshan’ he would be told to retire to his room. He often wondered just how ‘door’ this ‘darshan’ really was since apparently he was not fit to be part of it. Growing up in a society paranoid to discuss basic human behavior would only further push his inquisitive self to explore. The taboo of certain acts being a distasteful and disgusting topic would only make him fonder towards it. The illusive story of the birds and the bees had no context for him as he was introduced to the chaotic world of the genders in a rather bizarre fashion. The well timed anecdotes at family gatherings would have him wonder about its underlying meaning. The ill worded obscenities at school would have him trying to dissect their true form for better understanding. None of what he was being exposed to would prepare him for the truth.

‘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.


10 reflections:

VENU VINOD said...

hey, these are the feelings that prick each and every youngster face today. certain topics are forbidden which only create more interest. educating children on these topics are important i feel. nice topic to write

shakri said...

Educating them properly is indeed the key, Venu. One of the things that triggered this idea was exactly the lack of that. I hope we can continue to find ways to properly make the next generation aware of 'certain topics'.

Thanks for being here.

Prabhakar. said...

I liked the last para though I'll have to agree to disagree on the matter, what soeer one might think there a re something rooted deep within us, and you'll realize that people like Sagar think that way until they themsleves become parents and then nothing changes.

Also the matter of educating another, it is not a responsibility that one should take up, unless thrust upon. Because there are more societal elements that rule such a decision than just merely a singular thought of being straight with Certain topics.
This culture shock India has right, it's just a matter of time when culture will hybridize bringing in more aceptance, where people will both go multiplexes and Temples at the same time, I can already see such a trend emerging, for cultural values though apprently deteriorating the rate has gone down, and there is a more important sense of acceptance.

The next generation needs no education they will explore and learn on their own, these are important steps on their life, people like Sagar are merely obssessive complusive behavior oriented people who can't let go. they're just the one's caught on the borders of their acceptance.

I never needed my parents to educate me in such matters, it's just a matter of learning and letting go, and it's all about maturity. When children are mature parents open up by themselves.

Anyways that aside, you've done a great job again... you're a great blogger and I like the sense of personal touch you bring to your writings.
Adieu amigo!

Prabhakar said...

I must apologize for the grammer errors... I was in too much of a hurry while I wrote it..

shakri said...

No worries Prabhakar. I will respond to it in detail from home since work is a chaotic place for such creative interaction.

Thanks for the wonderful feedback though. Very constructive as always.

shakri said...

This is in response to your original comment. I agree with you that most of us did not need major educating with such topics. We learnt it on our own without making too many risky mistakes along the way. Agreed.

But what about those who learn it the hard way? What about kids who treat such topics as an experiment and end up ruining their lives not to mention the one of their young partner’s? Most teenage pregnancies are happening in today’s world due to lack of education in such topics. I personally feel sorry for people like Sagar who had to learn what they know from so many alien sources when the real education should have ideally started at home or school.

I agree with you that we are heading towards a hybridized generation. But does that really justify the assumption that kids will use the knowledge of such topics responsibly? Hence my argument that the sooner they know about this from a reliable source, the better off they are in making the choices they make later on in life.

Thanks again for the healthy arguments. Helps keeps thing in perspective dear fellow writer.

shah_of_blah said...

good one,
few points i would like to raise
1. we are still not discussing the "certain topics" as freely. sagar hasn't really got rid of his ghosts one feels.
2. sexual education ( guess that's what we are discussing here) is something that one should learn when one is able to learn, not before and certainly not when it's too late, i do not make too big a point here coz that can be said for plenty of things, not only sex.
a kid can only learn so much at a time.
3. i agree with sagar, that lies and fabrications are quite damaging.by doing this we are not only helping in forming misconceptions, it's immoral.
it is quite ironic that we lie to children to keep away immorality.
so solution of sagar's problem lies in changing the way we treat our kids, in every little sphere of life, not only about sex but about everything in life, we must be more truthful, candid and curious.

Prabhakar. said...

I'd agree with you shashi if it weren't for the fact that all rules of openness and awareness aren't the crux of this issue, in particular those who make mistakes will make them anyway..it's a law famously known as the MURPHY'S laws.. If a mistake must occur it will occur first or at the wrong time, inspite of the various precautions... (This is statistically proven though no mathematical proof exists) do you think a person who has understood the repecussions will not commit a mistake? Those who go all the way are those who would've done so anyways..because responsibility is something that even openness or education can't breed, it has to be learnt the hard way.

See when you try to propogate the idea of education and openness do you not mean to say that the information provided is very one sided and of course it would never be misinterpreted.
Having said this, I come back to the original point, to deal with this issue I'll tell you this, d'you think a clear explanation of the menstrual cycle and the anatomy of males and females would explain the whole array of certain topics to a person... or merely showing him the act or rather something pointed but not direct.. would you not think at some point one would practice censure?
It is associated with taboo so as not to trivialize the issue, but this so-called openness will breed this new genre as we see today of people who are so-called free in their ideas or rather BOLD.
They just flaunt vocabulary most wouldn't use or be frank about things related to sex, but doesn't that seem to advocate the died of sex... what if a fifteen year old decided it was okay..people can record MMS's nowadays,(school children that too) the guy's argument..> ofcourse I know about sex.. my parents talk about it, and ofcourse I used a condom.. it was safe wasn't it? I even recorded it....

What do you say to that?

Or rather watching porn is quite common, let's watch son...

its never about taboos, Freud would suggest even a ten year old could have the so called 'wet dreams' (frankly for the lack of words I choose to be crude)..but that's the point, the sociological situations that emerge aren't simple systems where a mere function of Education can clear off the problems.

Would either societal or peer pressure be lesser in either case(educated or not)?
I don't think so..
Half knowledge is worse than ignorance.

shakri said...

@shah of blah
1. One cannot blame Sagar for feeling the way he does given his history with ‘certain topics’. This is probably why he is still fighting those demons.

2. Sex-Ed is a standard course in many High Schools these days so there is really no excuse to NOT learn it when they should. The point is all about making sure they know what they should. What they do with that knowledge later is purely their judgment.

3. Who decides where the morality line is drawn? And why is engaging in protected sex (as adults of course) an immoral act? This is the kind of education we need to drive home since chances are this is why youngsters are making those poor choices today. Curiosity is indeed killing the cat since the cat doesn’t know any better. Don’t you think so?

shakri said...


I sadly have to disagree again with your initial points. Openness is awareness are indeed the right starters for ‘certain topics’. Without that the youngsters will make those mistakes anyway (as you said so yourself) but at least they will be hopefully aware/ready for the consequences were they to err. Murphy’s Laws definitely apply here since it is how anything in life works. If something has to go wrong it definitely will. No 2 ways about it. But again unlike some things in life are ‘certain topics’ really the kind of area where errors can be rectified easily? Isn’t making a mistake here going to jeopardize the futures of the people involved? Hence the risk of Murphy’s laws actually working.

Regarding the points you made later on here is what I feel. You are right. There is nothing which can stop an individual from making poor choices despite the education he/she is given. I mean come on! This is happening right now in India with so many related cases coming to light. So I guess we both agree that there is no way ‘educating’ them will stop them from experimenting and even recording it. Fair enough.

But when you go on to ‘half knowledge is worse than ignorance’ you are pretty much summarizing what I wanted to say as a response. The whole point of why Sagar had to spend his growing years scrambling for information was due to the lack of it. Why do youngsters go ahead and have sex with/without protection so boldly today? Because they are exposed to the vast information bank everywhere about it. But the same was not true in cases like Sagar’s since people of his era were told that it was something to walk away from and never to indulge in. Had Sagar and the kids today both gotten complete education about ‘certain topics’ then both of them would have probably been at a better place. One of the reasons why kids today are doing what they do is due to ‘half knowledge’ which I am sure you agree is worse.

Thanks again for the healthy debate. I appreciate the response.