Hostel life, we have heard so often said, teaches how to live an independent life: It broadens the outlook. It cultivates fraternal feelings and does many other things. But one thing, is far more important than these, it cannot do. It cannot replace the wholesome influence of the parents at home an influence under which the soul rises to an angel’s stature and the mind wears its most noble aspect. It cannot make good the loss of the silent inspiration that we draw from them. It is no compensation for that live-touch of parental love which, under favorable circumstances, provokes what is best in us and restrains what is bad, Hostel life is a soldier’s life. It is hard, it is monotonous. And this monotony enervates us. Well has Keble said;
Sweet is the smile of home, the mutual look
When hearts are of each other sure
Sweet all the joys that crowd the household nook,
The haunt of all affections pure.
The supporters of hostel life often say that it brings students closer together and makes them feel like brothers. On the surface, the argument looks sound. But when we probe the question deeply, we find that it is “hostlers” and not the “day-birds” who suffer from foolish quarrels about trifles. They fight with each other on mere misunderstandings. Hasty words, sometimes thoughtlessly uttered, result in the breaking of heads. That is your hostel life.
But this is not all. Through contact with a “rotter” many an innocent student is spoiled. He learns to cheat his parents of money. He employes the latest methods of playing scurvy tricks. One rotten apple spoils the whole lot. Hostel life is for ever betraying the young, the hopeful and the innocent. It is a necessary evil.
Home life, on the other hand, is sweet. There is no other world. Its beauties and benefits may be humble. Yet they are infinite. Its adventures may be by our own fireside. Yet they are wholesome. Its migrations may be from the hed-room to the parlour. All the same, they are very instructive and beneficial.