15 January, 2021

Well, They Weren’t Really Eighteen

Coming of age at 18? No, in India, we do things a little differently. But as blank slates go, the hope is our youth will not be led and will learn to dance their own dance.

Bishwadeep Moitra
Well, They Weren’t Really Eighteen

There are many great songs in the Hollywood movie, The Sound of Music. Many urban middle-class people of my generation saw the epic musical more than once when it was released here in the mid-1960s, and some of us would know the songs by heart. One of my favourites is the one sung by the courting teenagers Liesl and Rolfe. The song is a series of loving warnings from Rolfe to Liesl about what men would want to do with a lovely innocent such as her. “You are sixteen going on seventeen, baby you’re on the brink,” Rolfe informs Liesl, before warning her—“timid and shy and scared are you, of things beyond your ken”—and alerting her against “eager young lads, and roues and cads” before delivering the inadvertent punchline that was obvious even to us six-year-olds: “I am seventeen going on eighteen,” boasts eager young lad Rolfe, “I’ll take care of you!”

The pomposity and arrogance of the late-stage teenager is something to be marvelled at, something which one can call truly awesome, in...



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