Being a teenager has become a Herculean task in the 21st century, especially the given the fact that you have to please everyone – starting from your parents and friends to yourself, should you choose to do so. The transition from tenth (considered as high school) to eleventh and twelfth (often considered as college, where I come from) is hard to ingest by all and sundry.
In school, kids came in yellow school buses, or their parents dropped them off which was considered a luxury. In school, they wore uniforms – faded ones outnumbering the pristine. In school, kids were given pocket money of ten or twenty bucks; fifty and hundred earning the awed faces and shocked gasps. In school, saving meant dropping coins, and occasionally, notes into the piggy banks. In school, parties meant birthdays – at a friend’s homely home with a chocolate cake and a lame party hat – under parents’ supervision, of course.
In school, food meant getting chapathi or puliogare from home. In school, treats meant buying friends something from the canteen, the budget reaching a hundred at the most. In school, communication meant talking on the phone for five to ten minutes for clearing the doubts, which again, happened only if your parents were merciful enough. Later, it progressed to texting, that was all good, and most importantly, under control. In school, sleepovers meant late-night talks, celeb gossip, and if we were lucky enough – late night movies. In school, going out with parents meant visiting temples. In school, acing a test meant getting an A+. In school, life was different, or rather, less convoluted.
College, on the other hand, was a labyrinth – where the right decisions had to be made. You were often lost trying to choose the “hardworking” path paved by your parents, the “fun” path paved by your friends, and at last, the “sincere” path paved by you, paved for yourself.
In college, kids came in chauffeured cars, cabs, autos, or their parents dropped them off, which was still considered a luxury. In college, kids wore designer shirts and kurtis, branded jeans and shoes. Whether the person sporting the “branded” or “designer” clothes could pronounce the title correctly or not, was a matter subjected to accent or vocabulary risks. In college, kids had wallets spilling with five-hundred and thousand rupee notes; or rather debit/credit cards. In college, saving meant nothing, well, that was never a part of a teen’s dictionary.
In college, parties meant birthdays and achievements including every piss and dump you took. Why, yes, it’s a mighty achievement! There were no parents involved; parents’ supervision was for the “losers”, they said. Parties happened in clubs with discotheque lights, alcohol, sparkling dresses and accessories. In college, food meant ordering something from the canteen, demeaning it and shifting to restaurants within the locality. In college, treats meant Italian Tiramisu, Mexican Tacos and French Ratatouille that amounted to a small fortune.
In college, communication meant Whatsapping, Facebooking, Instagramming and Snapchatting from the moment you step into home till the moment your eyes can’t stand the burn anymore. In college, sleepovers meant late-night alcohol hunts in a friend’s car, without a license and early morning rides. In college, going out with parents meant visits to malls and blackmailing them to buy you the things you wanted. In college, acing the test meant not flunking. In college, things got twisted. But that was not the worst; the worst was the fact that we were acclimatized to it, so much so that, it’s our new normal.
Of course, not everyone is entitled to the college luxury. Strict parents, curfews, and infinite other restrictions have made some of us different humans altogether. Our parents don’t teach us comfort through money. They teach us comfort through strife. The fruit is sweeter when the struggle is harder, they said.
We are the ones sweating under the hot sun waiting for a public mode of transport and hanging on the ledges of ever-crowded buses. We are the ones that keep up between the restaurant hangouts, clubbing escapades and scoring the A+ to earn the label of the ideal kid. We’re the ones shuffling between being socialites to being sanskari sons and daughters. We’re the ones that try to tackle all the hurdles to make a name for ourselves in all walks of life.
Where will all of this lead us to, you may ask?
My answer is same as Enya’s
“Who can say where the road goes,
Where the day flows?