Finally Sunday, the 4th of May arrived. The event would end at 5:30 and we would all go home with or without awards in our hands. The morning was quite similar to the previous day with its tea, PT and then breakfast (the menu was changed to Indian though. So we had luchi instead of toast). Diary submission was followed by the last participatory event for the RYLArians at 9:45. It was an extempore session named “Orators” to be judged by DGN Utpal Mazumdar and Rtn Rajendra Khandelwal. Three participants per team could take part in it. I was one among the three from the yellow team. The topics given were easy or hard. It depended on luck, because we chose our topic from a bunch of papers in a basket. When I picked up my paper I saw the topic scribbled across it – today’s youth needs more patient listening than political slogans. Honestly I did not have a clue about what it meant. But I was determined to speak on it (we were allowed to change once, but I never liked that idea. It’s like failure). So I went up on stage and talked about how political slogans are a jarring sequence of sentences and high ideals that make no sense unless the basic understanding is there. So some patient listening before that is a necessity. Listening should come from both the youth and the older generation. The youth should listen to the elders, and in turn the elders should listen to what the youth has got to say and then only we shall have some harmony. And such a harmony can never be brought about by political upheavals alone etc. I must say my accent helped as I talked and so did my confident demeanor though I was weaving ideas and sentences right on stage without pausing to think. The allotted 3 minutes flew in no time and I finished. In fact I was pretty sure I had bagged a position among the first three as I walked back to my seat. I had happened to mention something like “the youth talks a lot these days, so there isn’t much to complain about. Today if the elders are talking 60 percent of the time, the youth is getting the remaining 40 percent, which is big enough” To this, PDG Amitava Mukherjee(who had joined the panel of judges) commented later that Riya set me thinking. Two years back, I heard a young boy giving a similar kind of extempore, where he had complained that young people get to talk only 10 percent of the time. Now it has risen to 40. Ten years later you will be the ones to talk and we will sit back and listen. Very well spoken. Some of the other topics my fellow participants got were if I were the prime minister..., are looks more important than intelligence?, increase of construction in Indian cities etc.
10:30 was the time for the second last lecture of RYLA entitled “Life Balance and Self Realization” by PDG Amitava Mukherjee. It was one of the best lectures of the entire event, parallel to those by Mr Devadasan and PDG Sekhar Mehta (both discussed in earlier posts). His lecture had the gist that had been told many times before – the necessity of being polite, loving others, caring for others. It was the presentation that made it very different and new. This is how he presented it (exact quotations aren’t possible, but I have stuck to the temperament). There was a man who married a woman when he was very young. She was chaste and spent her time either doing household chores or praying. She was the model wife, but as he climbed the ladder of success, he began to grow bored with her. So one fine morning he left her alone in the house and set off for the bustling parts of the city, where he found a new job, and a new smart wife. He became a very successful professional and his family life grew excellent too. He had children with this second wife and things were going steady till he turned older. He retired finally and realized he wasn’t happy with this family anymore. Then he fell in love with a twenty-something girl who agreed to marry him. So he divorced his second wife and married the young girl the age of his daughter. He was immensely rich due to his successful career and kept his new wife happy with frequent gifts. Then one day he fell sick and the doctor announced that he had a month to live and then would have to walk the path of death. He was devastated. He went to his young wife and asked her “I am going to die in a month. Will you come with me as I walk the path of death?” The girl was rather amused and turned him down immediately. Crestfallen, he went to his second wife and asked her the same question. She said she would love to forgive him and come along, but there were the children to look after, so she could not go with him. Finally, having no choice, he went back to his very first wife. He found her in the ruins of their old house, praying peacefully in a corner. He didn’t even have to ask; she opened her eyes and said “yes I will come with you. Because I am you. I live in you”. This is life. The young wife is money, riches, the Lolita in our lives we feel so attracted to. But the riches never come with us when we die. The second wife is family. They love us and come with us up till a certain point. Then they have to return. And the first wife is our own soul, which is always neglected but ready to help and support us whenever we need it, and walk with us till the very end. I was mesmerized. I don’t want to add anything more to this. I only must mention that he also talked about social issues and told us about the dangers of unprotected sex (I was glad he did. I believe this is one subject that ought to be explained to young people instead of shying away from it. He was the only speaker to do so.).
The last lecture of the event was called “Spirituality and Self Discovery” from a very young Anaya Sinha (she is a part of Rotaract, a youth section of Rotary International, the daughter of the present president of Rotary Club Joka,a postgraduate student and a budding lecturer perhaps). Her lecture was good enough with a presentation to garnish it et al. Unfortunately, there was no Q&A session as she chose to end it by handing us a candle each and lighting them to create this aura of spirituality. Overall, a good effort from someone so young speaking after an older and wiser and fantastic speaker.
At 12:30, there was a panel discussion named “WEBBUSTER”, where the panelists were Rtn Chitralekha Ghosh, Rtn Subhajit Roy (both young professionals), Rtn Sobhan Bannerjee and psychologist Mrs. Suparna Das. We were invited to ask any question to any panelist we liked. I asked two or three questions and so did a few of the other participants, but I will not mention any here, because the questions were asked just for the sake of asking and keeping a discussion alive. It wasn’t a productive session and I feel that I personally handle my life way better than any psychologist in a panel can do (my questions were general and I asked Rtn. Banerjee about their plans for the next RYLA, which delighted him). Strikingly, most of the questions were aimed at Rtn Ghosh and Rtn Roy, who were the younger ones in the panel. At 1:15, it was time for lunch. There was an elaborate menu and ice cream was served for dessert. The Valedictory session would follow and we were pretty excited about it. I had invited my parents over to watch it, and so had a few others. There were only a few hours left of the event now.