fall

Fall

Old books, older bookmarks

Changing seasons

Reminiscing of the past

Setting sun, falling leaves

Town yellows, brown’s retrieved.

When sounds settle, hearts grieve,

that season my love, we’ll meet.img-20161011-wa0005

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The Dilemma of a 90’s kid and responsibility

This twenties generation of nowadays—the 90’s kids that we also like to be proudly called—is such a stuck up generation; stuck up between things that we’ve seen and lost and thus missing them, stuck up between seeing a generation that was hip and classy at the same time, that we used to idealize and a generation that is following us (read the teenagers), making us cringe, what with their music tastes and fashion sense and their cell phone apps that we’re too old to use; we are a stuck up generation because we’re perhaps too wise for our age and too young to think if can make a change—we’ve seen an entire world change before our eyes. In our short lifespan of twenty something years, we have experienced drastic temperature changes that even though we were too young to feel when we were children, we can’t nevertheless forget how cold our winters used to be, how we would actually enjoy our monsoon rains rather than worrying about an onslaught of floods every year, how we could visit the bank of Indus and boat and have picnics in summer there and eat Pallah fish without worrying about the dangerous heights of water that take away lives of little children every year these days.

We are the poster children of climate change, there’s no doubt about it. We’ve been witness to more earthquakes and hurricanes around the world in our lifespan than any of the older generation. We have been spectators to conflagrations overnight burning the entire forests in summers and deadly snowstorms in winters handicapping the entire life of metropolitan cities (in North America) all within the same climatic year. While the climate in our childhood was more predictable, pleasant summers with a heat wave in May usually (specially referring to Southern Pakistani summers here) followed by a two month monsoon season bringing consistent clouds of rain one after another, to chilly winters beginning from October and ending by the end of March with enough cushion of Spring in between to distinguish between a winter and a summer night without muddling them together unlike today. You would never see an unexpected snow in Islamabad in the middle of February and while Lahori winters have always been famous for being foggy, you would never come upon a road accident on Motorway in the beginning of March because of an intense foggy morning. These are signs—signs that climate change is here and is going to ruin this planet, not just our generation, if we don’t do something about it.

We don’t have to look at facts and figures to realize the gravity of the situation, we just have to look around us to see how our lives in general have changed. The good news is, since most of these changes have taken place while our growing up, we are the most ‘adaptable kids’ in the words of Darwin and thus can be the force of change. It’s not just our responsibility but this planet’s right to be duly given to. The bad news is, if we don’t, it will be a little bit too late.

So let’s not get stuck in the earth’s nightmare. Let’s work one step at a time, conserve our resources, not waste water, go for resources that are recyclable, reduce Carbon consumption, recycle more and consume less of everything so that it’s not just our generation that could live more, but so that our own generation is alive to tell the tale.

Revisiting

I step down the stairs. Slowly at first but then quickly because it is 8:30 pm, way past the working hours and building seems almost deserted. It’s a four storey landing for me—the lifts have been closed too—and by the time I reach the ground floor I am almost panting. I walk from inside the building towards the dark marble floored foyer outside.

I need to sign out from my account and then wait for my car at the entrance office of the campus. I am carrying a brown envelope containing exam papers of my students who—I just notice—are in the foyer waiting to go home too—in groups, some them sitting on the wide black marbled stairs, others lying down on the cold floor listening to their friends while remaining, just standing in groups, accompanying their friends. As I walk towards the entrance office I look at them, nod and smile. While a few kids stop saying whatever they’ve been discussing, others keep on going. Suddenly I don’t want to go and sit inside the office anymore.

Only a year ago, I was one of them, a college student coming out of an exam in the evening, laughing with my friends and discussing how I screwed up my paper. I want to be with these kids, laugh the nervous laugh and forget about it a while later, discuss my questions and get excited if my answer matches others’—simple joys of life—but I move on, and walk into the office.

I am reading a book to pass time, a Neil Gaiman book. But it doesn’t help me turn off the excited voices coming from outside. I am neither an introvert nor someone who likes to sit inside. I’m an outdoor person and so I stand up again and walk out under the clear night full of stars while the cool breeze of fall hits my face. Few kids eye the envelope in my hands and whisper. Few others smile when they see me. I ask them about the paper. They smile and say it was alright. Their smile does not reach their eyes. I have to admit the paper was a little tricky. I already feel bad for them. I make a mental note of being easy on them while marking.

It’s never easy teaching kids who are few years younger than you so you have to be careful. Always. Kids are always one step immature than you (even the brilliant ones).  Kids idealize good teachers (of all ages). I hope one day I could proudly call myself a good teacher but until then I can only try to be one. Being an extrovert doesn’t help. You talk to a kid one day randomly before or after class and they could think they are your favorite. The news spreads like fire. Other kids start looking at you from the perspective of liking that one kid (or those few that you’ve been seen talking to) and as soon as you applaud them in class for their performance (again, it’s routine), you are labeled biased. I have witnessed this phenomenon being a student where teachers are called biased because they are seen smiling and talking to kids outside the classroom, whereas they are only being polite. Which is why I always take caution while talking to my students.

I want to sit on one of the wide stairs (which is empty) and enjoy the loud voices of kids, the cool breeze of autumn and the evening in general—it has been more than a year since I have come out of an evening exam, my favorite shift of taking a paper. But I just stroll for a while and decide to go back to the office and wait. I wouldn’t feel easy being there and not talking to kids, and the kids would be too awkward talking to each other in my presence and deciding that they should move to the far end.

By the time my car comes and I walk towards the gate at the far end of the foyer, I notice a couple of kids walking beside me careful not to walk past me. I look at them and smile again. I cannot help it. They smile back and look at each other. Perhaps communicating silently. I am recalling a familiar scene from not long ago.