Satire in the Age of Letters and Technology- more than just a pinch of it.
By: Lata Jha
My happiness knows no bounds every time the flight announcement goes like ”we’ll be landing soon”. We hover over the much familiar territory and I feel more at peace than I have in ages. There really, truly and inarguably is no greater joy than being home. It’s your nest, the little space in the world that you hold dearer than anything else. More often than not, it’s where you’ve spent your entire life and childhood and the opportunities it provides you are, to quite an extent, enough for you to grow, evolve and flourish into what you’re destined to. Which is why I don’t know what a ‘small’ city technically means. For I think, you learn to make a life, and often a beautiful life completely worth the while, wherever you may be.
Yes, my city doesn’t have the biggest malls. There are only a handful of good places to eat. And we have only one proper multiplex. You don’t get the best clothes here and imported chocolates will, more often than not, not find themselves poised on the shelves of our stores. But trust me, every Patnaite will tell you there’s more than enough for our worlds to revolve around.
More importantly, it has been a delight watching the city grow. We all know where we’ve come from. I could recount the most hilarious incidents about people from disparate parts of the country asking me if I come from “Lalu’s land”. From the land of cattle and corruption, we’ve progressed to providing region toppers and IIT qualifiers. I remember the time we couldn’t even step out of our homes after a certain hour at night. Now, we’re as liberated (however that may be defined) as any other part of the country. We move around as freely, our girls are just as free to pursue their dreams, and the art and cultural arena does get its fair share of attention.
Our glorious history speaks for itself. Bihar has been enriched by the rule of kings like Asoka and Samudragupta. Numerous generations have fed on and been inspired by its ancient languages like Prakrit and Sanskrit, its renowned art and architecture, fertile soil, folk art and the ideas of intellectuals like Buddha and Mahavira, besides the first president of independent India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Patna, as the capital, has a rich and proud history, having been governed by both the Mughals and the British and home to several ancient monuments.
I love my city but I’m not saying it’s the best. What I think of it is probably not even important. What is though, is the fact that we’ve grown and like every other city, we have the potential to make a difference. As clichéd as it may be, it is important to compete with yourself first. Moreover, I don’t even think we’d want to be a Delhi or a Mumbai someday. Just like them, we have our own charm that sets us apart. It is the rustic, robust, uninhibited splendour of ‘small’ towns like ours that people come home to at the end of the day. There has to be something that distinguishes us. Wouldn’t all of us otherwise be clones of the same plant in the concrete jungle that threatens to overtake our society? I probably sound obsessed with my city for all the wrong reasons..but I love the noise, the lack of space, the fact that it’s difficult to drive sometimes, that we don’t get stuff here, that we keep going back to the same places, that we crib, complain..it’s all part of the madness. And I think I speak for everyone who not just lives here but knows what it is to go back home tired- somewhere we all love it. This is us. Much like our country itself..our limitations are part of our identity as distinct beings. And we don’t want to change. We can always work on our flaws but we’d prefer to always stay rooted.
So coming back to what a small city is, I think as far as you’re not small in aspirations, expression and understanding..your space doesn’t need to define your destiny. It is a lot like how our country is perceived on the global scene. But I think we’d all agree that despite our problems, we haven’t done too badly for ourselves.
We have a really long way to go, and as someone who’s part of the educated, privileged lot, I understand that. But we also have so much to be proud of. And small, tiny or miniscule, we’ve done all that under our own steam.
I’m very proud of where I come from. Like we all should be. That maybe would lead to the first step towards a big change in how we look at small cities. And for all those who believe in the finitely restrictive definitions of space, I’d just say that all good things come in small packages. Go grab one.