I witnessed a disquieting scene the other day. I was traveling and happened to see some schoolboys who were returning home from school. They were traveling by the local bus. But they were more outside than inside. Three or four of them were running along the side of the bus, hanging on to the bars. The bus was moving slowly, due to traffic. But there were other vehicles moving alongside the bus. These boys paid scant regard to the conditions on the road; they were immersed in playing this game.
At one point, the bus picked up speed and the boys had to literally dash after it. A couple managed to hop on, but a few got left behind. And those who were hopping on had their legs dangerously close to the back wheel of the bus. An accident was waiting to happen.
I commented to the auto driver that the bus driver should refuse to run the bus till all are inside the bus. But apparently, a bus driver who took this step was beaten up later. So, I guess, the drivers are a wary lot.
I watched the whole incident with my heart in my mouth. The utter callous regard to life and limb was very disturbing to say the least.
For the youth life is one big adventure. They love to take risks because they are in denial. They feel accidents and mishaps happen only to others. They are careful, so they are safe. They love the danger and love to be one up on the other.
It is the hormones I guess that makes these youth take such risks. No amount of counseling is going to reign in their exuberance.
Do they think of their parents and family while indulging in such risky behavior? In a split second their whole life can change. Either they will lose their lives or be maimed for life. Maybe it is this thrill that drives the youth. It cannot be sanity.
I have seen students riding the bus by sitting on its roof. They could so easily roll off. Also many travel on the roof of trains. They love to hang out of trains and buses. There will be ample space inside, but by hanging out they show their bravery.
Two wheeler or car driving done on high speeds is another way of declaring their invincibility. They do not accept they can be killed. They have supreme confidence in their abilities. They are so full of joy and life; it is a pleasure watching them. Only their antics are heart stopping.
A couple of youngsters were driving their car that was very new. They had installed a brand new and expensive music system and it was on full blast. They were involved in an accident, which was their fault. They knocked down a family on a two-wheeler. The man was grievously injured, his wife sustained some injuries and their child had been thrown clear. The child was under shock.
The police came on the scene, and the boys were too rattled to seek help for the family. The man kept imploring them to pick up his child, but they did not pay attention. They were worried on the consequences of a case being registered. And they were found pleading with the police not to impound their car because their elders would be angry and they had just installed a brand new stereo in it. Was that all they could think of?
Of course one cannot tar every youth by this same brush. Not all youth are callous when it comes to other’s safety or life. There are a lot of them around who are willing to help, organize groups for charity, and generally can be depended upon.
The rain floods in Mumbai had created a lot of havoc. Many people were stranded and in trouble. This spurred the youth to pitch in and help. They did not wait for the authorities to arrive, they were seen helping people cross flooded streets, evacuate marooned people and rush the medically needed to hospitals. It is the resilience of the youth that has to be admired.
But some of them insist on taking foolish risks, which can be avoided. Some go swimming in the rough seas even after being warned not to. They experiment with drugs, alcohol and tobacco. They soon get addicted and end up with life long problems. This impetuousness has to be curbed. I wish they included some caution into their vocabulary and into their thinking.
It is a tragedy to see a youth wasting his life for cheap thrills.