Thursday, July 21, 2016

Poles Apart

I am not someone you would describe as an intellectual. I mean, I have read a few books, but they don’t seem to have made me any wiser. I have never seen snow. Neither have I ever lived near the sea. I have never been to a party or a get-together or a meet-up. Neither have I had people come over. I guess you have to have a home for that. I have never had a crush on anyone (I went straight for the home run) or had a strange girl (or a boy) tell me they liked the way I looked. I have not seen the Taj Mahal. I don’t think I have been to Agra either. Or Barcelona. Or Amsterdam. Or Luxembourg. Or Rome. Or Venice or Oslo. Or Stockholm or Singapore. Or London or New York. Or, most unforgivably, Prague. I have witnessed a lot of graduation ceremonies in the last few years, without graduating myself. I have seen a handful of plays, but have never been to a musical, or an opera, or a ballet. I have never had to pay taxes because I have never made enough money. I have been seen, but not noticed. I have been heard, but not paid attention to. I have been loved, but been unable to love back in equal measure. I have been told that I am bright, but never that I am responsible. I have been commended on my intelligence, but never on my goodness. I have never been appreciated for my worth ethic because I seem to have none. I have never felt proud, not in the last decade at least. I have eked through, but not really lived. I have been okay, but not really happy.

But I have had conversations with myself, both neurotic and ordinary. I have been intimate with my weaknesses and doubted my strengths. I have languished in the confines of my loneliness and enjoyed the company of my solitude. I have tried drowning my sorrows and puffing away my worries, only to realise that the compulsion to face reality is more powerful than the desire to escape from it. I have obsessed endlessly over the cleanliness of my hands and the importance of right angles. I have asked myself weird questions because I could not go to sleep. I have known the bitter taste of that special kind of insecurity that is inspired by fears. I have dreamt of a better world without doing anything about it. I have immersed myself in the shallow sea of self-doubt and apprehensions, and come out of it alive. I have battled with myself (and others), only to come face-to-face with the insignificance of our pretty squabbles. I have shaken myself out of fatalistic stupors after resigning myself to failure and dejection. I have swum across the strait of self-deprecation and self-pity, even if only to be washed back across by the next high tide. I have been there and back, and back again.

And I have managed to keep walking. Even if just. Does that count?

So yes, you could say I have lived a life. Now, do I get the job? They told me to be honest.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Keep walking.

The important thing is to keep walking. Maybe you won’t get where you intended. Never mind, keep walking. Maybe life will seem pointless and you will lose your sense of purpose. Keep walking. Perhaps your friends will grow distant, disillusioned by your perpetual rudderlessness, your family will become indifferent, and the woman you love will eventually give up on you as a lost cause. Don’t lose heart for you will have yourself. So keep walking. You might end up becoming the man you had once looked down upon in disdain. Keep walking – the act of living is an experience in itself and it is in no way less instructive than the experiences you consider richer or more wholesome. You will fail, you will falter, you might even find all your peers getting ahead of you in the ‘race’ called Life. However, if you dig your heels in, and still manage to convince yourself to keep walking, then I can assure you that you will come to earn yourself some respect towards the fag end of your life.

Your trials are your own. Your failures are your demons to contend with. In the confines of your psyche, they are absolute and final. No one will ever understand your struggles as well as you do. While you march, no applause is going to acknowledge your effort. There will be no medals for the hurdles you cross everyday, even if your shortcomings and your debacles are unforgivingly hurled into the limelight. But this is the price you must pay for strength of character.

It is a choice you make. It is not inherently good; no God is going to come and make these decisions easier. If you choose to walk, then you must choose to keep walking, and find a reason to do so that does not lie outside the purview of the activity itself. If you do, then you have to keep walking because that is all the reason you need. That is all the reason you will ever have.

I wish I could tell you that it gets easier. However, I am in no position to make promises. If you can do it now, when you have begun to run away from ‘living’ because of the way it makes you feel, you will get better at this. If you just close your eyes and keep walking, things might not get any worse because even when they do, you will know that that which is difficult and absolute has already happened. You will know that in that moment of reckoning, you had made up your mind to keep walking. So when your unruly mind threatens to engulf you and you can’t make sense of your journey through reason, keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep walking. That is life itself.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016


Take your heart and twist it in places you did not know existed.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Guru Purnima

Dear Guruji,

A lesson from my school days that has stayed with me through all these years is one I associate with my high school Physics teacher. He used to keep reiterating that the purpose of education is not to make one learned, but to make one humble. The more educated one is, the more one comes to recognise humility as a virtue. In the capacity I know you, I realise that you illustrate this message remarkably well and, through your example, I have come to understand its significance in the context of my own life.

However, the most important lesson I have learnt from you is that one must be kind, both in spirit and in actions, towards others, especially towards people who have no reason to expect such goodwill. It doesn’t matter what one’s designation is or how much money one makes, it is immaterial what accomplishments one has or what one’s status in society is – benevolence knows no arrogance and therein lies its beauty. The prince and the pauper can both practice it equally well.

Even in such dark and depressing times like these, though your help I have discovered that gentleness of the soul has the capacity to make decent human beings out of us. You have been instrumental in helping me realise that when we are gone, compassion grants us far greater longevity than our accomplishments. Moreover, kindness is as much about others as it is about oneself. One needs to be kind to be able to forgive oneself and overcome the trauma of past mistakes and failures.

For a long time now, I have kept telling myself that it is essential to do well in life, but it is more important to do good. Your actions and character drive home the point that I was correct in assuming so. For that, thank you. My only hope is that I am able to practice these lessons in life just as well as you for the best teacher is not the one who leads by instruction, but the one who does so by example.

I hope to continue learning from you for many more years to come.

Yours truly,