The world is developing fast and in manifold ways. New advances are heard of dime a dozen and countless studies probe deeper into our minds. The older generations are left wondering at the exemplary knowledge and skills of the newer ones. Yet, I happened to wonder if it is easy today to stock in young minds seemingly the easiest truisms.
I am friends with a young woman who is part of a teaching faculty. She was always bright in her studies and a topper who secured a teaching job. Recently, we spend some time together.
Sharing her thoughts on her various programmes last month, she said, “I will return on 30th of this month because the next day, on 1st August, I have to attend a meeting.” I smiled, ‘The next day is July 31st.”
She realised her mistake and said, “Sorry auntie, I forgot. I know that alternate months have 31 days. But I was thinking August has 31.”
“Of course, August too has 31 days, don’t you know?” I asked her. “Yes, I forgot,” she replied.
I wished to reassure her with an explanation. The Romans followed the yearly calendar with 12 months. While naming the months, “July” was fixed for a month keeping in mind the great ruler Julius Caesar. After Julius Caesar, King Augustus Caesar became the ruler and his fame was no less than Julius Caesar. Hence, to denote his name, the name August was chosen. Both the rulers have got equal importance and both the months have 31 days each.
After listening calmly, she commented that my qualification as a graduate in history helped me know such facts. But I denied, pointing out that I didn’t get the information from any history book, but from my grandfather when I was seven or eight years old.
Not only that, he taught me how to remember the number of days for each month. One has to fold the fingers and start counting the knuckles starting from January. The month corresponding to the raised finger’s end point has 31 days and the ones in the middle have 30. Counting the knuckles including the middle points up to the first seven months, one has to restart from the raised finger’s end point as August.
This simple practice helped me remember the number of days for each month. Besides, he taught how to remember the “Raghu Kalam” (1½ hours) in each day—starting on Monday at 7.30-9am and ending on Sunday at 4.30-6pm—with a simple sentence, “Mother Saw Father Wearing The Turban Suddenly”.
My friend said, ‘Do you know what experiences we siblings had in childhood? We did not have our grandparents with us and our parents were working and always busy. From waking up in the morning till they went to bed at night they were busy with nobody else to guide us.”
I empathised with her feelings.