A college friend and confidante, now a schoolteacher in Calcutta (strange how most of the college gang started working either as teachers or journalists or in some form of the communications industry) sent this SMS last night:
Remember lines from Daffodils? Kids insist on writing: “A poet could not but be ‘a’ gay in such a jocund company…”
I owe her much of my sanity for she was the one who stood rock-solid by my side at the most turbulent time of my life – way back in the late ’80s. Am not sure I was there for her when she went through an even-worse calamity almost a decade later but we’re still there for each other when we need to be… that, however, is not the point here!
A few days ago, I’d stumbled on the fact that, while I remembered every line of almost every nursery rhyme I’d read over 40 years ago, I was aghast to discover that my children – 10 and a-week-away-from-nine respectively – couldn’t remember Humpty Dumpty or Hickory-Dickory-Dock or Twinkle-Twinkle… I could’ve cried!
But something told me that something had changed: children, these days, don’t learn as much by rote as we used to. More important, they’re exposed to so much more, that inane nonsense like “three bags full” is quickly transferred to the mind’s trash folder.
The not-so-gay schoolteacher from Calcutta confirms this but it does leave me wondering whether another literary genre is headed for extinction.