’Do you know who he is?’”, asked my septuagenarian father to our neighbor’s convent-schooled 5-year old daughter, showing her the photo of Swami Vivekananda. ‘”I don’t know and I don’t care’”, she retorted nonchalantly while exiting the door, leaving my father agape and furious. Later that night he lamented to us, ‘’Children these days don’t know the great progenies of Mother India anymore. We taught you differently. Didn’t we? “, while hanging his face. Now I am fully sympathized to the little girl (and even to her parents). Among mounting homework and getting prepared for the big rat race lying ahead, it’s not possible to remember so many names and faces.
But the disappointment in my father is also palpable to me, as I could identify Tagore, Sister Nivedita and Vivekananda from their photographs when I was a 5-year old (80s were a laidback time for the Indian parents to teach their offspring the not-so-market-economy-worthy things). But my sister, the flag bearer of Gen-X wholly supported the bemoaning of my father. This tussle between the new and the old is something that the Indian xennials face a lot.
Now the unaffected may ask,” Who the xennials are?” while the answer resides with – those who are born between 1978-1984. We are the ‘supposedly’ micro- generation (thus royally effed up) stuck between Gen-X and millennials and beyond. Care to read more about xennials? Go through these links.
Though the above links speak about the xennials from the west, their Indian counterparts are battling their own conflicts day-in day-out. The following 3points in a random order may enlighten you more about the real ‘struggle’ of desi xennials.
Torn between the two
We, the xennials, have inculcated the middle-class values, teachings and religious beliefs from our parents and now seeing the propah ‘millennial’ tossing them out of windows- make us cringe and question. So when I want to sit keeping my legs apart in public , without brooding over whether it’s an unintentional ‘welcoming’ posture or not , my Gen-X sister reprimands me and immediately I pull my legs together and act like a ‘lady’. I know what a cheeky millennial (say a 90-born) would do in my place. I know that this makes me awfully old-fashioned but old habits die hard.
Our political ideology is muddled up
I grew up in a state that was ruled by the left-front for 34 years and in a family with (understated) inclination toward left-wing legislative. So my adolescent political philosophy equated with symbols such as pristine white kurta-pyjama (or dhoti), thick reading glasses, torn chappals and a ‘haloed’ communist meritocracy-saving-blue-collar-workers. Later, during my graduation days, seeing up-front the many slips (between the cup and the lips) of our college’s left-governed student wing, the void inside this prevalent political thought came out clearer. Right now, I am on the slow process of getting rid of any faith (be it ideological or religious). The all enraged students of JNU or JU (the roaring millennials) leave me in awe by their decisiveness regarding ‘affairs of state’, and clarity of thoughts. The older generation (Gen-X) is happy reminiscing about/holding threadbare ideology that no longer works. I, the xennial, became cynical.
Sex lost its shock value
Most of my schoolmates are now hitched with 1 kid (along with 1 bickering spouse) in tow. Some of them are expecting their second child. And all of them are very much into the conundrum of family life. They sometimes mourn about their commonplace conjugal lives in Facebook messages (I am not in WhatsApp, thus saving my sanity), they put up/share philosophical FB posts that bash socially sanctioned institutions (aka marriage, the rigmarole of time-frame) subtly.
As Indian millennials are having the time of their lives in terms of sex, flings and casual dating like never before, the xennials are left with a sense of betrayal. Why? Because the media, the matriarchs brainwashed us since puberty about the sanctity of matrimony, virginity before marriage and whole other boring bunch, that are not ‘aspiring’ any more, especially in urban India. The party ended (too soon) for the majority of xennials even before Tinder rocked the boat for ‘holy’ Indian affiliation.
There are many more points to add in this list but it will only stretch the article. So if you are an Indian xennial reading my humble attempt, you are welcomed to make an observation about the 1978-1984 lots.