Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Final Lesson.

Mahadevan was a simple man, without much ambitions, without a yearning for riches or without any kind of inhibitions about living in a very moderate fashion, in his small flat at the Teachers Colony. He was highly contented with his profession as an English and History Teacher for the high school students. He had no more desires and led a contented life. He believed that he should not marry and considered marriage as an unnecessary additional responsibility, a luxury he felt, he could avoid.

And so his life rolled along the years and as he reached the last bit of his middle aged career, he realized that he had devoted everything to his profession. He had won the ‘Best Teacher Award’ around five times and held this distinction very sacred and felt it was the only thing of most importance in his life. Yet, there was this sense of being incomplete, there was this feeling of regret that in his lonely journey of life, his footprints would not sustain their presence on the sands of time.

It was a bleak and cloudy morning, when he awoke with tears in his eyes. It was only the previous day that he had left the school, never to go back again. He had retired. It was not easy for him, and there had been a lump in his throat, as the children sang in his honour. He felt like bursting out and crying, but he had maintained his composure, he had been the silent, good teacher to the last.

As the days rolled by eventlessly, Mahadevan realized the futility of his life. He had nothing to do, other than eat, sleep and read. He was tired and felt he was living a life, just for the sake of living it. He had been a strict disciplinarian and had no concerns with his health. He tried to seek solace in spirituality, but all the years having contributed and having been a part of the society, he found the ways of detachment of the spiritual life a bit too harsh upon himself. But, still his mind was not at rest.

After a few weeks of intense thought and grief, he decided that there was nothing else much to do, than end his life. He did not have the riches to roam the world and enjoy life nor did his principles allow him to spend lavishly. It wasn’t a cowardly decision, he assured himself. He was doing this so that he wouldn’t be a burden to the society later. He had planned to kill himself and was merely speculating how..

On a cloudy evening, as Mahadevan sipped his coffee and kept thinking, there was suddenly a knock on the door. On opening the door, he found it was none other than his old favourite student Seetharaman. He wore a deserted look, unshaven and unkempt. Seetharaman had always been a bright student, and it was with great pride that both student and teacher had rejoiced, when he had got the job of a government clerk.

“Good Morning Sir! “, he quipped.
“Good Morning.”, replied Mahadevan, noticing the sarcasm in the tone of his favourite student.

As Mahadevan, seated his student and prepared coffee for him, he recollected how Seetharaman`s marriage had been an unhappy affair. His wife, unlike him had great ambitions and had winning ways due to which conflicts arose too often. One thing had led to another and his wife had recently filed for divorce, leaving Seetharaman, alone, poorer and unhappy, and dejected with life. He had taken to smoking and was losing his life, something Mahadevan had all the while felt very dejected about.

As, he poured the coffee, he made a resolution in his mind, that he would speak to this fine young man and make him realize that he needed to live a better life, fight and win against all hardship life, had put in front of his path.

“Rama, the problem with you is that you give up too soon. It was like that when you were at school also. Life is long, it is not a bed of roses. You have your entire useful years of your life in front of you, and here you are looking like, you are the only survivor of some earthquake”, stressed mahadevan.

“Sir, unlike you I hadn’t decided on practicing celibacy. I had dreams of having a family, loving children, a life of harmony. Today all my dreams are shattered. I have even contemplated suicide…”.

Seetharaman, hung his head and rotated the coffee cup.

“What ?, Rama, are you going mad. What is a marriage after all in life. It is just a phase when you shoulder more responsibilities. You could still go and compromise, adjust and live with your wife. Or you could even meet another person, who has the same outlook as you have, of life. Why suicide? You depress me..!! “. Mahadevan spoke angrily.

Seetharaman was red faced. He hadn’t been admonished before by his teacher and he was not in his right state of mind.

“Sir, What would you know about love or marriage ?”, he muttered.

Mahadevan was hurt on hearing this. He knew that he should not lose his temper as well and after all he had a point. What did he know about love or marriage, he thought to himself.

“Sir, I’m sorry! I..” , seetharaman started to say, feeling sorry about his sudden remark.
“Rama, don’t feel sorry. What you said was right”, interrupted Mahadevan.

“Rama, when I was a child, I had this problem in my school that I was never able to learn mathematics. I always failed in it and was always scared of the subject. Once my teacher asked me to solve a particular problem on the blackboard and as I blinked and stuttered before him, he realized that I did not know to do it. He sent me back.

That night, the teacher came to my house and told me to solve it and he guided me slowly as I solved the problem effortlessly. He told me that day, to never have fear of a subject, fear of any situation, because we then get afraid of our lives. “

“Rama, in your case this is again what is happening, you are losing your courage, you are afraid of your situation, you are afraid of your life and haven’t spared a moment, a moment when you were not haunted by your misery, to think about your life. “

Mahadevan stood up and walked towards the window. He pointed outside and spoke to Seetharaman, “Rama, when our minds are clouded with misery, when we have assumed that we are defeated, often our brains don’t work properly. When we are haunted by our past, we do not have clear visions of the future. Your life is a gift from god and if you do not cherish it, you shall not fulfill the very purpose of this existence. The world awaits you outside and you still have a lot to give back to your soil, people and land.”

Seetharaman was by now, in tears…

“Sir, I understand sir, I understand. But unlike you I had not devoted my entire life to my profession. I had dreamt of a normal simple life. I never thought about anything else and when all my dreams have shattered, I thought there is no more meaning in life. I am sorry, sir. I’m sorry. It was wrong of me to think about marriage in the first place. Perhaps, like you, I must have devoted my life to a single cause“

Tears now welled up in Mahadevan`s eyes. “Rama, no you were not wrong and neither was I right. Life is to be lived as given. Take whatever comes as it is. It is the best for you. When causes vanish, you should be prepared to take up new assignments. I thought that there is a single cause in life, but life is full of causes. You too shall find them..”, after a pause, he continued “In fact they will find you..”

“Like how you found me “, thought Mahadevan to himself.

Seetharaman, was by now more sober and clear at mind. He thanked his teacher profusely.

“Sir, I was a fool. Life is truly a gift and there are people waiting for me, waiting outside in this world, in whose lives I can really make a difference.”, cried out seetharaman.

As Mahadevan bid seetharaman goodbye, there was a lump in their throats. The teacher is always sad about his students bidding farewell, but life has to move on. Though a teacher shall remain a teacher, and a student, always a student.

Mahadevan slowly walked to his bedroom, looked at the mirror and smiled at his reflection and spoke “ What a fool you were, Mahadeva!. What a Fool!”.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Searching for answers...

Everyone dreams of a flawless life, a life where they get more than they can ever think of asking, a life where there is every freedom to do what one feels right, where all are loved ones, where all think highly of you and show respect. Everyone needs a life where they are respected and admired in a society which is full of values and goodness. But is it right to think so..?

We all have sentiments, we all grow attached to our loved ones, our possessions. I have a sentiment for my great possession, a Hero pen, the first ink pen, I took to school. Though it doesn`t write, though it has got scratches all over it, I still treasure it, I still treasure memories related to that little black pen. Now if someone were going to give me a brand new black hero pen and say give me yours, without a second thought I would say ‘NO!’
I like it just the way it is, even though I don’t use it any more.

So, then why is it that we don`t become sentimental with our lives. We all have had those moments, which have caused pain, suffering, and induced tears. And, so we go on dreaming about better lives, lifestyle, riches and love. We try our best to forget and rejuvenate, we always dream of a better life. We never get sentimental about the whole thing. Why is that ?

Now obviously there are going to be counter opinions where people will remark that they are much satisfied with their life and wouldn`t want to change anything in it. Not all, but atleast a few would remark so, because they have had the best until now, the happiest moments, and are still getting happier. It doesn`t mean that they are wrong, these people, could actually be sentimental about their lives, but will these feelings sustain their presence over time. Will they be sentimental about their lives, once they face immense grief or suffer from a great loss, or is it that all people somewhere down in their brains are aware of death and have the stark realization that this life is transient and hence avoid getting sentimental about it.

While browsing across different blogs, i`ve noticed that many people agree to the fact that attachment is the cause of all misery, so then can we live a loosely coupled life where we are aloof of all happening, of all near and dear ones.? If so, then what`s the purpose of life or is it because I am living a life without a purpose that I have these doubts.

What is the philosophy that can brighten up these dark corners of my mind`s crevice. Where is it`s presence and how does it influence my outlook of life.

I am a person searching for answers…
Update 26/05 : I thank all of you who dropped by and shared your opinions. I am more enlightened now and believe have met more friends, shared different views and have now more than one philosophical viewpoint to look at life. Of course I shall still be searching for more answers, and the quest continues and if anyone has a new idea to share, please feel free to teach me. Once Again thank you, friends.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Strike!

Shattered Glass and broken sticks
Torn placards, touched in red ink
Shouts and screams, cries of fear
Mind in turrmoil, unrest in the air
Rights hard to obtain, bear pain
Fighting hard, destroy and face
No reason at sight, to protest
Just protest, lives at stake

In the midst, blood dripping from souls
A hurried quest for meaning
Of Life, Of reason or to exist
A blind rage, a vision, singular
Rushing in turbulence, in unison
False claims of a horizon; new
All yearn for change, changes radical
Struggling in thought, in action.

While peace settles and wounds heal
All minds are of cryptic state
Martyrs in outlook, heroic in taste
A clouded mind, weakness in brain
Cowering in fear, the aged ask
What the gain, for all the pain
Tears burst at the look of scorn
Always think of your next meal!

Slowly all the losses appear
Over the mind, the clouds clear
In regret, in grief, the brain speeds
A slow awakening to life and normalcy
As time glides across, life blooms
New thoughts arise, changes desired
The old blood, now aged and aged, now souls
Shattered Glass and broken sticks.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Is Marriage Blasphemous.

I was rather shocked, when I came across this Article here - Muslim groups want Da Vinci Code banned.

I totally agree that hurting religious sentiments is not correct, and will stand against such deliberate defamation, but what is rather atrocious is the reason they cite.

In the Holy Koran it is written clearly that Jesus is one of our prophets.
The film Da Vinci Code says Jesus was a married man. That is blasphemous

Just because a man is married, does it mean that he is no more a righteous person, does he lose all his virtues just because he married..? Does he lose to qualify in being a prophet just because he tied the knot.

Why is it these people don`t feel that the policy of triple talaq is blasphemous ? Why don`t they raise their voices about a man having more than one wife. ? Why is it that they don`t raise voices against racism, terrorism and other evils in the society as enthusiastically. ???

"The film shows our Prophet Jesus Christ in a bad light. I have not read
the book but I am told that the author says Prophet Jesus Christ had a child.
This will not be tolerated by any Muslim," said Maulana Saeed Noori, general
secretary, Raza Academy, an organisation that works for the uplift of

With all respect to the Holy Quran and the entire Muslim Community in India, it doesn`t matter what this movie conveys, it`s already a bestseller as a book.

Friday, May 12, 2006

A 'Crash' course on Humanity.

The award for the best film, at the Oscars went to ‘Crash’, directed by Paul Haggis, though there was much expectation that it would be ‘Brokeback Mountain’, for it’s different story and stunning visuals of the landscapes, brilliantly captured by Ang Lee. Why Crash won, was a question that lingered on my mind, and the basic conclusion, that I had come, to was that the jury was pressurized into giving the award to the this film, because it was a goody-goody film which spreads a message against racial discrimination.

So, it was with a rather disinterest and a yet a little curiosity that I sat down yesterday night to see Crash. But once, the film was over, I realized that I had not even shifted in my place. The movie, is not just a film, which shouts aloud messages and forces goodness right in your face and down your throat, rather it was like a poem. The movie is so poetic in the different frames and situations, It was so symbolic and realistic that you don’t feel you are just seeing a movie, because we see in it, life, we see in it, our own emotions and our own understanding of humanity, it’s flaws, deceptions and it’s purity and importance.

Humanity is a strange word, it means different things at different times for different people, but basically the underlying philosophy, is that in times of crisis, we rise above barriers of race, caste, creed, language, colour or religion and become just human beings, a wonderful concept. When we see no differences, when we see that we have the opportunity to make a difference, then we become, in essence humane.

Our heart pains everyday when we hear of loss of lives, bloodshed, treachery, calamities. We sympathize and grieve for those unlucky fellow beings, yet it is not easily that we give care to the small humane acts, we could perform on a day-to-day basis. We donate to the Tsunami Fund, Katrina Relief and what not, but do we take care to see to it that we don’t hurt another human being’s feelings, his emotions. We often forget to put ourselves in our friend’s shoes. We do not take kindly to some delay or some diversion in our routines, and we never bother about helping out.

Like ‘Crash’, I believe there is no meaning in just crying out, and cribbing. To make a long story short, we should change the basic definition of humanity, We need to remove the crisis part of it, thereby we remain humane all the while and the world becomes a better place, not just for you and me, but for us, citizens of planet earth.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Of Travel, Life, Death and more...

Travelling is an amazing pastime. Opinions may differ, but the real essence of enjoying travel, is in the state of mind when there is a lack of preparedness, when there is vibrancy of youth in the spirit to go on, when there is no fixed destination and when we travel, for the sake of travelling to see new places, meet new people and learn new stories.

Recently, on my vacation, I travelled along with family to Kerala, my native place, with a fixed schedule, everything well planned out, everything, every minute of the week planned well beforehand, thanks to my father`s meticulous planning. The trip was a mixture of emotions, of grief, of happiness, of devotions, of well- wishing and many things new.

Grief, mainly on seeing my grandfather laying sick, sinking and very obviously on his deathbed. To see that great man, who had always been a towering personality, feared for his angry words, loved for his loving nature, his love for food, despite being a diabetic, the old railway station master who loved his grandchildren dearly, to see his frail body and tear filled eyes, was enough reason for grief. Though I smiled, though I left his side and have come back to office, there is a tug at heart, there is pain, and I am sure, I will miss him. Death is beautiful, as I have felt earlier, but death is not without pain for those who survive these eternal souls who leave behind their lifeless bodies and walk the stairs of fate up and onto the journey to nothingness. May lord keep him happy and contented as he bids his final adieu.

As I mentioned earlier, a planned trip is not interesting travel, and yet a journey is in it`s own way interesting. Especially if it`s with your family to a place which can make your companions and yourself nostalgic.

My father, for example was at the height of nostalgia, as he described his long walks to the school, his childhood and as he kept bringing to my notice that I was luckier than him, I was becoming increasingly sarcastic. While taking bath in the kulam(pond) at my uncle`s house, he suddenly remarked ..

"You know what..? We should buy a big ancestral house, complete with it`s own pond, trees, a nearby temple.."

I looked back at him and curtly replied. "Yeah, and we`ll get an elephant as well !." He ignored me, he was already in his own world, and I just smiled.

Attending my cousin sister`s wedding was another important item on our itinerary and was with it`s own share of gossip, family squabbles, well-wishing, food, greetings and work. Getting introduced one by one to people i`ve never known, making small talk etc. I discovered, that I am so terribly bad at such things. On the contrary, my sister was all smiles and was all set to talk and chatter, the typical to-be-MBA girl.

The trip concluded, with the pilgrimage to the guruvayur temple, to seek the lord`s blessings. As I stood in the serpentine long queues, admiring the paintings, I also felt that the thronging crowds have somehow diminished the serenity and silence of the temple. Inching our way, through an ocean of humanity, by the time we reach the lord, we just get a glimpse, before which we are pushed ahead, for the others to follow. The whole exercise, being surprisingly so symbolic of life itself.

Most of the time, we were travelling, everytime only on trains, as my mother is a lovable vomiting maniac and the buses of Kerala and the spiralling roads don`t favour the situation much.

As we finally reached back to chennai, back to the sweltering heat, we all had a bundle of emotions in our minds. A journey planned or unplanned sure has it`s thrills and shortcomings and to travel is an amazing way to pass time. If you have read the book "Footloose on the west coast" by Scharada Bail, you will notice that our journeys were similar in many ways, though in the book, the destination was the beautiful city of Mangalore, the land of Bisi Bela Bath.

Travelling in India, is a beautiful experience, but next time, I would love to stretch this beyond the known places. Hope life allows and time agrees.