Sarjano’s book, The Great division between Old and Young, sample reading Part 1 of 3
The Great Division between Old and Young and Other Absurd Divisions
Excerpt from the book 491 Questions and Not a Single Answer, by Swatantra Sarjano
Just for fun I’ve been asking myself which the most stupid ‘division’ is, among the many divisions with which we obliviously live – like man and woman, north and south, blacks and whites, life and death, good and bad, sacred and profane, etc. – and I always come to this conclusion: the most stupid of all, the most cruel and atrocious division is the one between youngsters and oldies!
Obviously, this is also the consequence of the original separation, and yet it is not as ancient as the other divisions. To say it simply: the separation between man and woman is much more ancient than this modern disgrace. The separation between old and young is a rather recent phenomenon, considering that until the time of the ancient Romans there was a healthy mixture between these two genres, which will now soon result in two absolutely separated categories!
The simple fact is that today we are so used to these absurd divisions in which we live that we don’t even notice them anymore; we live with them as if it were the most natural thing in the world, but this division between young and old is not ‘natural’ at all, it is rather humongous bullshit (if I’m allowed this term!).
It is a stupid division, anti-scientific, anti-poetic, anti-human, and definitely anti-social.
We take it for granted without even realizing the stupidity of it, to the point that I myself was forgetting to mention it or talk about it!
I will spend just a few words about this apocalyptical, generational division:
Once upon a time there was a single humanity, as many of us well remember, naturally created by people of any age, but there weren’t – so to say – the young ones on one side and the old ones on the other, because everybody was hanging out with everybody else, irrespective of their age. Thank God I had a childhood of this kind; I had friends and girlfriends of any age and I’m still grateful for it, because it was a gift, an extraordinary gift.
When I was six years old, my best friend was a mature woman (I should call her an ‘old lady’, if this term would not repel me) who was living in the same courtyard facing the little apartment where I was living with my mother. I would spend hours upon hours to talk with her of this and that, often touching on religious themes, or philosophical or just existential, with the spontaneity of two individuals without any judgment, nor separation.
Sometimes my mom would get angry at me and always for the same reason: she would give me a little money to buy some vegetables or bread for the day, but instead of coming home in due time, I would come back after hours that I spent on the road playing with other kids! Mom would become so angry that she would start running after me, wielding a broom, until my friend would come out into the courtyard, hugging me in her loving arms and telling my mom:” They are little kids, Signora Lucia; it is natural that when they go out they start to play! Forgive him, Signora Lucia, Carletto is really a nice boy and will never do something bad deliberately. He just wanted to play a little bit with his friends. Forgive him!”
The love offered by my friend in such a simple way always had the power to calm down my mom, who would show me the broom one more time, saying:” Next time you don’t come back in time, I will show you this!”
Not for a single moment of my life have I considered my friend as an ‘old person’, and I’m still grateful to her for the love she offered me, irrespectively of what we call today the ‘generation gap’.
When I was ten years old, my best friend was a girl in her twenties who would visit me any time she needed to talk with someone who could understand her. She would tell me about her life, about her love affairs and about her dreams. She would then hug me, almost crying on my shoulder while whispering:”But why are you not a twenty year-old boy…then I could marry you immediately!”
Our friendship lasted for years, and it was essential in the search for my first job. I was 11 years old at that time, and just in those days a new law was put in place against the exploitation of minors at work, stating that from now on only people above 14 could work officially. Mirella – this was her name – had a guy madly after her, who was the owner of a butcher shop and in the need of a delivery boy. She introduced me to him, saying that I was only eleven, true, but that I was very; very mature for my age and on top I was very good in riding a bicycle! I was hired instantly and earned with joy ten dollars a month!
I would give this money directly to my mom, who was doing her best for us to survive with her small income, but there were the tips left by the customers which filled my little pockets with tingling coins. This abundance of coins was regularly used to buy some little present for my mom or my elderly friend. Ahhh, the sensation of omnipotence to have all these coins in the pocket!
But let’s go back to the ‘generation gap’ and its absurdity: I was 14 years old when I fell in love with a girl three years older than me. She was in love with me with even greater intensity, and she found our relationship to be perfectly natural. However, when her family became aware of this affair, they made up such a drama because she was going out with ‘a little boy’, that Mirella (it is a recurring name in my life!) not only had to drop any relation with me, but was forced to even quit her job, since we were working in the same factory!
In vain I was sending her sweet notes, such as:
“Mi – re – la –
three simple notes
that make my heart
I never got an answer, and Mirella disappeared from my life, leaving me in such deep prostration and pain for an event that I failed to understand, that I decided for the first and only time in my life to commit suicide. I did my homework very carefully on the subject, because I had heard that most people who take tablets to commit suicide are saved by somebody when they start screaming because of the pain in their belly! So I decided to swallow all the 50 tablets at once and to drink large gulps of Grappa in between, in order not to feel any pain.
It worked beautifully, since I had never drunk Grappa before, and I fell in the deep stupor of a drunkard before I could feel any pain; but I woke up a few hours later, with fetid vomit all over my body, where all the tablets that I had swallowed could still be counted!
My mother saw me lying there, apparently drunk, but she thought that I had drunk something in order to forget the girl and just left me there alone so I could have my trip in peace!
In that moment I understood that I had made a great fuck-up, I understood that nobody has the right to kill himself, and I most importantly understood that the time for me to die had not come yet.
But I have never understood – not even now – why people of different ages cannot love each other and decide to live together….
The Loneliness of the Old Man Sitting on the Bench
I often went to the public park to amuse myself, and each time I noticed an aged man sitting alone, seemingly contemplating the emptiness in front of him. The desolation of such a scene always surprised me, and it was very disquieting too, because I really couldn’t understand why these people could be so lonely. Sometimes I would see them talking with themselves and this would make me infinitely sad, because I truly could see no reason for their loneliness…
Often I would stop by just to talk with some of these people, because to me they looked like little kids punished and placed in a corner! It was then that I would hear the most incredible stories, the saddest, the most desolate, and in the end there was always the same conclusion: “Ehhh, old age is really an ugly beast, the worst of the beasts!”
At first I thought that they were talking about some incurable disease, even if I couldn’t understand the origin of it, but very soon I had to realize in what conditions our ‘old people’ had to live, and the atrocious separation perpetrated towards them. No, if you look at it with the eyes of a child it is not a nice story, it is actually truly disgusting! Thank God, I still have the eyes of a child, and even today I cannot bear the stupidity and the atrocity of this division.
What is our society doing, practically speaking? An individual is exploited for 40, 50 years, and then labeled ‘old’ and thrown away! But do you realize that? And have you seen the oldest person in your village? Bowling and drinking in some fusty place (in the best case scenario), loneliness on the bench (in the worst case) and a number of suicides that should worry us seriously. And all this happens just because they have a number of years on their shoulders and are now catalogued with contempt as ‘old’! Can there be anything more uncivilized, more barbarous?
In the New World, the one that will rise beyond the Original Separation, our so-called ‘oldies’ will have the maximum respect and will be part of the ‘operative society’ until their last day, you can be sure of that! Hey, these people that you call ‘oldies’ are our historical memory, they are our very past that is still alive; they are our living experience. How can they be thrown away like this? Why don’t we start thinking about some intelligent way to use these immense resources of energy, of experience, of life?
Just to make it simple and propose something very easy immediately, have you ever thought that the asylums for old people and the orphanages could be the same thing, the same institution? Kick yourself and think about it, because it could represent the practical solution to one of the major problems of this society, which is what to do with all these ‘oldies’.
And what if we just stop considering them ‘oldies’?
And what if we start to consider them as simple human beings?
Old people and children all day together to play!
Can’t you see the beauty of such a scene?
Can’t you understand how much they can give to each other?
You really don’t understand?
To be continued…