The Golden Era
At the age of 17, the scariest prospect that looms over me is reaching the age of 20. This is that age in one’s life that is rumored to hold the most secrets and is believed to be a metamorphosis comparable to that of a caterpillar emerging into a butterfly. Out of sheer curiosity I approached people around me belonging to different eras and questioned them about their twenties.
Starting in the 1970s, being in your twenties did not hold the key to freedom as it is believed to. Boys and girls sat and interacted in their own respective circles with no communication in between what was the North and South Korea of the two genders. It was the booming age of fashion in Pakistan in what had been dubbed the “swinging seventies” as girls and boys could be seen indulging in the fashion trends of the time. The female clothing trends included tight-fitted, short kurtas over shalwars.
Friendships, even between the same gender, had to be approved by the family first and going out unnecessarily was not allowed. Society bore resemblance to a coup of cackling chickens, spilling beans all over the place. This was also the time when the 1970 elections brought the People’s Party to power in West Pakistan, leading to rioting. Internal conflicts bogged the country down. Meanwhile, India took advantage of the situation and attacked. East Pakistan was lost to us. This meant that the twenty-something-year-old youth was out on the streets making themselves heard.
Radio, newspapers, books and magazines were the chosen form of passing time. Eating out was also not a common thing with home cooked meals winning preference. Computers had just been introduced and were at that point of being used only in offices etc. unlike today as we tap away on our mobiles and laptops. Life was much simpler and there was lesser freedom, for girls especially, than there is nowadays. Being married off at a young age was the norm. Being twenty in the 1970s thus meant, that you were old enough to be responsible but young enough to be disregarded by most adults.
Going on to be in your twenties in the 1980s, colored television was an invention that had swept away the world. VCRs were the raging trend with people mostly indulging in Indian music and films. Cinemas were a popular form of entertainment but back then they were adapted specifically for families. However, this was when Zia-ul-Haq came to power with bombings in cinemas that led to a culture of fear as people stayed in their houses. Baggy-style-clothes had been common till Zia’s reign and his Hudood Ordinances, which led to the sight of women wearing huge chaadars becoming run-of-the-mill.
There were no places for friends to hang out unlike today, further leading to a system of spending ones’ twenties mostly at home. Furthermore, people did not often go for higher education and thus spent their twenties working, married or both. Television had only the channel PTV on it which limited the amount of time one could procrastinate. It was a time when it was more common for people to sit down and talk with their families as elders narrated bone-chilling stories.
In the 2010s, long shirts and straight hair were in fashion and Pakistan was becoming a more liberal country. Girls could follow their dreams of getting higher education and working. Being in your twenties meant a considerably greater amount of independence. Spending time with friends became easier with groups of friends working out in late night sessions and hosting events together. It was the age of music influences such as Avril Lavigne and Taylor Swift. Social media was becoming a force to be reckoned with as Facebook was introduced.
All of societies “Aunties” were given an official platform to criticize and dissect. Text messages were the most frequent form of communication, however, mobiles and laptops were seen as status symbols as they were not very commonplace. Zardari’s government held office and it was a time of great corruption in Pakistan. The 2010 floods started in July and swept away one-fifth of the country. Those in their twenties held up the patriotic spirit of the country assisting victims.
Coming on to now, it is 2017 and I’ll be on the doorstep of my twenties in 2020. The greater amount of independence I will go on to gain is something clearly visible to me. Being able to be whoever I want to be is also granted to us of this age. However, I resent how our lives have lost a large degree of privacy as everything we do goes up on social media platforms for the world to see. It is a lot of pressure to grow up in such a world that puts you on a dais as every action you take holds more importance. It scares me to think that I’ll be in my twenties in this era and the situation gains further gravity with the fact that we, of this age, have more responsibilities than the people before us. Nevertheless, the prospect of gaining additional freedom enlivens me.
By Amna Khan