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‘It Will All Make Sense When We Grow Up’ – Life, By Calvin And Hobbes

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By Moumita Ghosh:

Calvin and Hobbes has been a high point of my Sunday newspaper reading ritual for as long as I can remember. There is laughter galore every time I come across the strip which includes Calvin’s mild crush on Susie to Calvin’s scientific inventions and philosophical sermons to the adorable Hobbes, who is the former’s figment of imagination, and who has always helped me, to put it in Watterson’s words- “gain perspective”. So, imagine my delight when I received the Tenth Anniversary Book from a friend, on my birthday. This article brings out the various issues which Watterson portrays in the book and how!

There’s Too Much Team Spirit.

The introduction of the Calvinball strip effortlessly portrays the inner landscape of a six-year old Calvin when he is faced with the imposition of “manhood”, the kind of “manhood” which could be achieved only by playing baseball at recess. Calvin, on the other hand, would rather ride the swing and the teeter-tooter.

The strip reminded me of Tony Porter’s ‘A Call To Men’ where he is quoted as saying- “I can remember speaking to a 12-year-old boy, a football player, and I asked him, I said, ‘How would you feel if, in front of all the players, your coach told you were playing like a girl?’ Now I expected him to say something like, I’d be sad; I’d be mad; I’d be angry, or something like that. No, the boy said to me — the boy said to me, ‘It would destroy me.’ And I said to myself, ‘God, if it would destroy him to be called a girl, what are we then teaching him about girls?’

Calvin signs up for softball anyway to, as he sums it up to his father, “stop getting teased” by Moe. The conversation between Calvin and Susie the next morning perfectly portrays how particularly harsh we are to our boys as well, as we constantly dictate them to ‘man up’. The last panel just seals it!

Your heart goes out to Calvin where he finally decides that he cannot handle “too much team spirit” and is consequently dubbed a “quitter”.

How Come You’re The One Who Goes To Work And Not Mom?

Although things have changed much in recent times, this strip rightly points out that how raising a child and doing all the housework (labour of love, if you will) which is almost always carried out by a woman in our society, involves as much “stress and aggravation” as a job which requires one to step outside the contours of a household although it is not always considered so.

Another Typical School Day?

Neil Gaiman writes – “I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.” Bill Watterson seems to share similar views which he brilliantly sums up in his strips.

It’s A Lot More Fun To Blame Things Than To Fix Them.

Sheldon Cooper’s brand of sarcasm might tickle your funny bone but Bill Watterson’s brand of the same hits home. The wagon rides are where Calvin is both at his philosophical and sarcastic best. This strip is a personal favourite for the allegorical slap it places on the faces of our conditioned existence besides giving a shout-out to rise up from our warm armchairs and try to make a difference. Particularly pertinent too, in a society where with a facepalm or a slight shrug of the shoulder, everything from – “Iss desh ka kuchh nahi ho sakta” to “Yeh sab toh hota hi rehta hain” are phrases, much used, against a wider backdrop of wars, rapes, legal imposition of articles such as IPC 377, farmer suicides and much more.

It Will All Make Sense When We Grow Up.

The adventures of Calvin and Hobbes during summer, particularly the wagon rides, are possibly the most colourful strips of the lot and provide a wonderful depiction of nature. In this regard, it is interesting to note that even for people who choose not be indifferent, environmental issues are seldom talked about. Environmental information is just a bunch of stuff to be mugged up with callous indifference and promptly produced on examination sheets or vociferously voiced in school or university debates. Newspapers to political organizations would rather talk about issues which they consider to be “sensational”, issues that would sell or fetch the organization votes. Poor Calvin hopes to make sense out of it when he grows up. But it never makes sense, not in a world where Deepika Padukone’s cleavage makes it to the headlines and the state of the dolphins in the Ganges, do not. A native American quote perfectly sums it up for us – “Only after the last tree has been cut down./Only after the last river has been poisoned./ Only after the last fish has been caught./ Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.”

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  1. justsomerandomguy

    I’ve loved calvin and hobbes since i was about 7 and now 14 years and two box set collections later somehow reading this made me feel like i was 7 reading that first strip all over again….and to add a sandman quote (by neil gaiman) just made my day.
    I’m usually not one to comment or get emotional but this honestly got me.

  2. Harsh Doshi

    Check out ‘Lessons from Life’ on Harsh Doshi’s blog Fine Baked Bread. https://finebakedbread.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/lessons-from-life/

  3. Abhishek

    Although I have ventured through every other article which praises Calvin and Hobbes and reflects its impact on their lives, but every time I find a new one I just dive in. I am kind of a worshiper of Watterson, given how he refused to commercialize the strip, gave it an appropriate ending and curled back to seclusion.

    I found this article lovely and just like any other C&H fanatic, it was a sheer joy to ride along.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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