Monday, March 17, 2008
Do you remember the computer jokes that used to come around in the early days of IT? Even we got them and we shared it with our friends in school.
Girl 1: Heard this joke? Back in the good old days a Hard Drive was a long trip home.
Everyone: Ha ha ha ha ha
Girl 1: And a Cursor was a profanity
Everyone: Ha ha ha ha ha
Girl 2 whispering to Girl 3: Hey what did that mean?
Girl 3 whispering back: I have no idea.
I then went home and consulted with the tech gurus and got the answers for the crowd waiting with bated breath back in school. By then some new joke about new and old terminology would surface and we would go back to the pretend game.
Then came pre teens and books like Mills and Boon…a little more solid than the baby food called Enid Blyton and the cycle repeated again.
Girl 1: Did you read Twilight Passion? I think the girl was stupid to get pregnant!!
Girl 2: Absolutely!!!! err but how did she get pregnant?
Girl 1: ahem err I mean, you kids won’t understand.
Girl 3: What do you mean ‘you kids’?? We are in the same class!!
Girl 1: No baba. I am not telling. I don’t want your mother coming with a fight.
The reality was that even she didn’t know and wouldn’t be caught dead admitting the same. I marched right back home and confronted my mother who was left very red faced and distracted me into another topic .
Pregnancy was a hot topic in class as we entered early teens though none of us knew how it happened. It was fashionable to talk about the the problems of girls getting pregnant before marriage after reading about the same in Femina and Savvy and other women’s magazine. But no one knew how it happened or thought in that direction. There wasn’t much to arouse curiosity or questions in a convent school.
Love was a simple emotion for us then. People in love held hands, give each other gifts and maybe a kiss as shown in on TV and since TV viewing was strictly limited and censored we lived in the ignorant bliss till a Harold Robbin happened and if we were not caught with it.
Then my aunt was enlisted to tell me about the birds and the bees and it was like a bucket of cold water being thrown on the lovey dovey couple we picturised. I refused to believe that the lovey dovey couples who looked so cute would do something so dirty. I was so mad at my aunt for bursting my balloon! Wasn’t there anything sacred left in the world anymore I wondered!! Having told me the basics, my aunt then proceeded to soften the blow by telling me how it was natural for two people in love “and married” and that that is how “married people” expressed their love blah blah. The emphasis on the word ‘married” was like a hot branding iron on my young mind and it sort of reassured me, as at that age growing up and getting married was a zillion years away!
Then came 10th standard and by now most of us knew about the birds and bees and had lost all interest in it. We were all young South Indian ladies by now and our talks mostly veered around career options, clothes and make up and Hollywood and Bollywood stars, though not exactly in that order.
This period also had its moments of comedy when a Nun gave us our first and last sex education class just before we left school. If the Nuns wanted us to be perpetually scared of men, then they succeeded with that one class. We looked on in horror mouth agape, as the Nun told us how a guy cannot stop if he is aroused and has to complete the act!! We were immediately reminded of the legend of the “Gurkha” who has to kill someone once he unsheathes his knife. Petrifying!
Today we laugh hysterically when we talk about that class, but we also gratefully acknowledge those nuns for saving countless young girls from falling into the trap of wily guys who knew how to play with the emotions of the Indian girl, most of whom were used to being second class citizens in their homes and grateful for the attention. The Convent gave these girls self esteem and self worth and more than a decent education and this is why there was/is a craze for Convent education.
It didn't matter from which strata of society the girls came from. Most were sitting ducks for smart guys due to the street savviness denied to girls by segregating them from guys and the taboo on mixing with boys. The Nuns were/are a big help in this kind of social set up even if it means that in their zeal they ended up dissing all guys as bad. Considering the fact that the percentage of gentlemen to cads in India is very low, I wouldn't blame those Nuns at all. It is better to be paranoid than sorry when you are an Indian girl.
A salute to all those Nuns who run convent schools. Inspite of all your doddering and gaffes in matter pertaining to love and relationships, your concept of every child being a gift of God helped millions of Indian girls in ways most people will never know or appreciate. It is no point promulgating laws to help the girl child. She has to be nurtured too and for most Indian girls their first experience of nurturing comes in Convent schools. God bless you all and may your tribe increase and teach the girls because your values will never become outdated and we have a long way to go before the Indian girl child comes into her own.