Recently I took a break from busy and competitive city life to visit my village for some fresh air and freedom. As our taxi was entering the village, the air felt somewhat different.
There was a sort of calm and refreshing aura about it. The clear blue sky, birds flying and chirping all around, lush green meadows, snow capped mountains and above all lesser noise.
The childhood memories came flashing back. Those open fields, pure water streams, we as children playing cricket in the fields whose boundaries stretched as far as our eyes could travel.
We played all sorts of games from kabadi to kho-kho and, to fishing and swimming. Our parents had a hard hard time showing us the way back to the four walls of our homes.
Our parents too used to be busy in the fields and vegetable gardens, wherein women used to gossip for hours. Neighbours and relatives used to visit each other more frequently. Our houses were not that big at the time and automation was yet to come but we were genuinely happy and content.
Coming to the present trip, I was ecstatic to revisit those fond memories and find solace in the battle cries of children lost playing all kinds of sports. I thought I would request them to let me play a few ball, like those uncles used to do back in the days.
I didn’t realise the nightmare I was about to encounter. I opened the big iron gate of our fenced house and spent some time with the family, but couldn’t hold it for long.
I called Idrees, a friend from those happy times and quickly exchanged the grudges before locating each other and catching up.
We went for a walk on the same road where we used to ride our homemade copper wire mould into a circle shape like a tyre on the kaccha road, but this time around it was smoothly covered with tar coal. There was a sudden change in the aura, and memories started to fade.
Those fields and vegetable gardens where we used to eat strawberries and cucumbers have evaporated. There are no battle cries of children, in fact no kids in sight.
Only things I could see are brand new cars and mini-forts all along the road with huge cast iron gates. Those open fields where we played are fenced and wired. Almost everything is automated inside these forts and life seems comfortable but there is a catch.
Upon my stay I got to know the reality of this comfy looking advanced life of automation, cars, forts and fences. The people living inside turned out to be owned by these things rather being the owners themselves.
The brand new cars and the foundation of these forts are built upon highly interest based credit which takes the whole fun out of life. The race of bigger forts and wider cars has chained people to slavery of financial banks. These fancy looking forts have turned into prisons and the air is full of depression.
People are finding it hard to make the ends meet. With the beginning of every new month, which should have ideally been a new start to life, banks take the big bite from peoples incomes.
In short, I feel choked in these mini-forts. The people inside have made their lives miserable and depressing.
They have imprisoned themselves and keep staring at the walls like inmates. I genuinely believe that our generation that just stepped into 20s should take a few notes.
We should live within our means, take credit only for profitable investments and not for building forts of depression. We need to cancel this petty competition culture for material things.
We should demolish these Berlin-walls at least in our minds, if not physically. And lets come together and show ourselves the way out of this self imposed imprisonment. Let's take these kids out in the fields and let their eyes cool off; no mobile screens. Let's be free again!
Jahangeer Ahmad Lone, studied at JNU.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.