Because there are over a million rules in the social bible!
It is supposedly an independent life, though all rules have been set. Others have decided what code of conduct will or won’t be correct. All one has to do is do or say something and look around. If faces are passive, she has done the right thing. If there’s even the hint of a frown, it’s best to undo the last action. Who knows whom one might end up displeasing?
There are rules, lots of rules. There are rules because we live in a society. A broken rule gives people the right to ‘point a finger’ at the rule-breaker and her clan.
There are rules about a million things – which school to study, which subject to study, whom to be friends with, how much to talk, which books to read, what occupation to aspire for, how much to score in the test, the necessity to score more than the neighbour, which shop to shop, which barber to get a haircut from, which clubs to be a member of, which sport to enjoy, which astrologer to get the kundali made etcetera.. [sigh].
In small towns, everyone knows everyone – each family knows each family up to three generations (at least), and they are always worried about all the families they know – up to the next three generations (at least). For example, Mr X’s daughter laughing (too loud social decibel meter-wise) on the street might give a dozen not-so-tolerant-urging-to-strengthen-sanskars advices to Mrs and Mr X. Mr Y’s son caught being greeted by his co-ed classmate will cause quite some head-shaking-mournful-beta haath se nikal gaya condolences being offered for the Y family (indirectly because it was a boy and boys can only make mistakes whereas girls commit sins).
And, the commendable part is, there’s no printed edition of the ‘social bible’ available anywhere; not on flipkart or amazon or google-books and definitely not in the local pichhli gulli waali kitabon ki dukaan. How all these families, their children and their children and their children know all these rules by heart is infinitely puzzling. Let’s consider this - new rules are made every day (to keep up with the modern world), some old ones fine tuned conveniently and still some being sometimes discarded (oh yes, convenience has more power than we ever admit). (Come to think of it, just like bible, there are versions like Luke, Matthew, John and editions like Old Testament, New Testament.) Then how does everyone else know when someone (like a poor Jr. X or Jr. Y) breaks a rule? Could it be in the air, water soil; or the fruits, grain and vegetable? Probably it’s in the genes – the middle class DNA. The kids are born knowing all the rules and versions (and all) like Abhimanyu.
What if, like so many genetic disorders and congenital defects, someone, anyone does NOT receive the pre-birth knowledge of the social bible genetically? How many rules could be taught to such a kid ; and how many versions (or editions whatever!)? What if she laughs and he slaps his co-ed classmate on her back on the streets? What if these kids make friends outside the ‘allowed’ group, enjoy sports others don’t know about and play hop-scotch in the neighbourhood gully and their rules? O my God, what a terrible, scary ‘What if’ this would be!
The ‘What if’ generation has started to arrive. There are lots of social bibles in dust bins these days (metaphorically of course, because the rules have been thrown out through actions, decisions and ways of life).
They’ve learnt that it’s easiest to live when you live your life from outside your window: no preferences, no choices, no exercising your will – always refer to the ‘rules’. That’s the ideal way to live. In fact, not even that, because we are a ‘progressive, educated, broad-minded, yet well grounded to our reality’ people. So they also know that the society pretends to give choices, in terms of choosing an education, friends, career, house and spouse. So ideally, one must pretend to have preferences, choices and will, and simultaneously make sure that they are exactly the ones laid down by everyone else. That is the IDEAL way to live.
They’ve also learnt that rebellion is such a waste of energy. So if they don’t live from outside their lives’ windows, then they place themselves and their lives in a cage and live, pretending to be around other people.
So they do not rebel, they do not convince anyone or show them their points of view, they do not argue – they pretend.