Thursday, September 01, 2011

Mobile Phone and Youth

Yohannan, or, Yoman is a simple man. He is bald, has a fringe of white hair running across from ear to ear. His front teeth are missing, his chin is unshaved but when he talks his eyes twinkle and, this fact, together with his deep resonant voice has a magical effect on his listeners. He smiles quite a lot when he speaks and the effect is nice. He is dressed in a checked loin cloth with a handloom towel (the Kerala "thorthu") on his shoulder. After finishing some work, which is planting tapioca stems in the field owned by my brother-in law, he comes and sits on the verandah with us to share the news of the countryside. I like such conversations as I get to know a lot about the people and their thinking. Who knows maybe a topic for a short story, wandering somewhere in the consciousness. 

They talk about farming. I like to listen because I have never farmed in my life. It seems that the Kerala government subsidises farming, well, like it subsidises everything else, i.e., electricity. You get seeds, crop insurance, cheap fertilizers, machines to till the soil, harvest the crop, what not. It's the way he strings the Malayalam words together that brings out the hidden nuances and the beauty of the language of my forebears. Sometimes I have difficulty following him as I am not that well-versed in the local culture and history. And some of the local idioms and memes are lost on me. This leaves me quite nonplussed.

But as the conversation progresses his voice grows subdued and a wistful look comes over his face. He says moral standards of our society have gone down.


"What makes you think moral standards are down?"

"The youth used to respect authority, they used to be obedient. Nowadays, they don't care for a thing. Some of the things you see on television. Oh, God, it's atrocious."

"It's a free world and they are enjoying their freedom." I say, though I agree with him.

"From the time the 'mobile phone' came, the youth have become spoilt."

"Really? What are you saying?"

"Yes, the mobile phone is responsible."

"Tell me how."

"Previously, there never used to be so much communication. Nowadays, every boy and girl has a mobile phone. They are always speaking on the phone. What is there to talk so much? I hardly talk to my wife. You don't know what goes on in the name of school, college and higher studies these days."

"The whole society has become immoral. You don't know."

I know. Everyday at least half the paper is full of some minor's rape. There are other reports of crimes of passion. You hear about prostitution rackets in "God's Own Country" in which school children are involved. Why, there are even a few cases in which ministers of the state are involved. Read about the "Ice cream case" (do a search since my connectivity is bad).

As Yoman says, "Mobile-uh phone vannathoday nadu aakey maripoyi."

Translated it means, "With the coming of the mobile phone the land has changed drastically."

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

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