Thursday, May 26, 2005

Moral Malnutrition

In this arid zone,they make a living selling vegetables. Perhaps they are the only vendors you will find on the platform of this little village railway station where just 4 trains stop for less than a minute. Hearing the bell ringing,they line up...from little girls to old women each with a handful or some with a basketful of vegetables, and as the train slows down by the platform they run and hand it over to eager hands stretching out, like a relay race.

Some of them have their loyal regular customers and some need to find their daily bread donors.No bargains here because it is the cheapest deal one could ever get. Often i have seen them chasing the withdrawn hands from the train window clutching a bunch of beans or a few tomatos, shouting to throw the money on the platform... one could see the coins tossing off the platform...and some times they run till the edge of the platform and walk back bare handed with gloom strewn faces.

This time I saw something different...a middle aged man bargaining...and the girl negotiating...the green signal given and the train begins to move...she walks...and increases her pace...and then he clutched the vegetables with one hand and with the other hand he grabbed her breasts.The deal doesn't end there...he has't yet paid for the vegetables....she keeps running..and the man appears at the door and throws a currency note on the platform...the girl picks it up, walks on and slips it into her blouse while repositioning her displaced bra.

Hope those vegetables nourish yet another malnourished soul while I am sure to be a mute witness to more episodes of this, remaining a blackhole at heart.

Am just reminded of a Malayalam couplet Dr. Ayyappa Panicker :

" Ara vayar pattini kidakkunna ayaletthe penninu
muzhu vayar kodukkunna maanyarallo nammal!"

Roughly translated it reads:

"We are the gentlemen bequeathing a full belly
to the starving girl in the neighbourhood"

Freedom from the Known

Just couldn't help passing on something remarkable I read recently on Sant Kabir.

I have been reading the Bijaks of kabir for quite some time and the more i read the more inrigued i got all the time. Kabir's words stand out for its utter simplicity and direct insight into the nature of things, but his iconoclastic expressions have always made me wonder why was he so hell bent on shattring and debunking the common man's belief system and throw him into utter darkness...I have always asked myself 'What spritual solace does Kabir's bijaks give to the distraught and the disillusioned when he systematically denounces every system of belief and practice?'... Kabir remained a sort of an enigmatic paradox until i came across this beautiful passage that speaks a lot about the unspoken kabir:

"Kabir is going to take you- if you want to hear his word- to a place of no help, no hope, no solace. He refers to the delusional nature of hope, which is hope for something, some security against the nothingness we fear. This hope must be jettisoned. He exposes the silly ways in which we comfort ourselves, showing a comic strip of animals mimicking our little drama of marriage and domestic flurry. He leads us to a place where there will be nothing under our feet, and invites us to leap off!"

From Linda Hess's introduction to "The Bijak of Kabir' published by Oxford University press

...and it so well connects to what kazantzakis wrote in "The last temptation of Christ" :

"Man's wings won't sprout until he reaches the brink of an abyss!"

Of Outbursts , its Aftermath and Understanding

reality strikes

This joy of existence- Kundera called it “the unbearable lightness of being”….Khalil Gibran isolated a principal part of it and called it “The pain of too much of tenderness”. Sure, they must have experienced a much intense level of joy and its accompanying perplexities I am experiencing right now after a grueling phase of sleepless nights, fierce unrest within and conflicting thoughts stretching my inner firmaments to breaking limits.

But it did not break and I did not break loose as well !

It seems that I am yet to figure out a great deal of myself even at the gross level. Perhaps it is the inherent emotional insecurity rooted in a rather tumultuous childhood, which still appears me as a quagmire like reality now, that invariably pushes my emotions to extreme limits, triggering off darts of thoughts in all directions and it doesn’t take much time for me to see myself lying bruised on a bed of thorns- every thought neatly levelled after they settle back to ground realities.

That is a terrible feeling and treading on that course , with no clue of what the other person has to say about it all, is heading towards an emotional suicide- the death knell of impending possibilities for a harmonious relationship… and it is too precious a thing to be lost simply due to my inability to understand and comprehend.

From debasement, now, there is only on way out- the way up!... and to float up one needs to shed the load of prejudiced convictions and inhibitions to open up … to spell out one’s discontent, fears, concerns with no shyness or qualms. After all there is no other go now because all my calculated attempts to understand based on inferences have miserably failed.

How true, true understanding comes from open communication than from measured expressions.

All that I could do was to tell about my perceptions and initiate myself to see the other person’s perspective too. There is lot more to reality than what is seen as the most obvious at the rational level and there is lot more to understanding a person based on the immediate expressions and explanations. I feel once the basic human factor ( vulnerability, impulsiveness and of course the ability to over come them too) is honored , then getting to know the other person becomes an adventurous pilgrimage. A totally new reality could spring from a hitherto unknown dimension and there one begins to see things anew, I guess.

Some one rightly said “You never step into the same river twice!”

The thought of being doubted and despised by the very people you hold so close to your being could turn out to a paralyzing experience. You cannot react fiercely because you do not what to hurt them, yet you are enraged at them…perhaps you even regret and repent on the bygone expressions and you no longer feel that you are immensely more that the sum and substance of your expressions.

But then, it is a self induced suffering…not quite different from licking ones wounds and making it all the more sore.

Some of my very close friends have always told me to loosen up a bit on a few things, especially when it comes to spontaneous reactions. I feel any attempt to restrain myself will only adulterate all my interactions to follow, but then I know that what is intended is to let go off the tendency to see things only from a rational perspective…to much reasoning and analysis, though it might have exacting conformity to the known, will only complicate and distort the reality I guess.

As long as you stare, you won’t see!

All that I need to do was the let the other person speak for herself… and that made all the difference. What I considered as terrible outburst was just a natural expression for her and what struck me the most was the childlike abandon, yet with devout involvement, with which she narrated the whole scenario and explained her perspective. To see events and expressions through the eyes of a child without sidelining ones primary identity as an individual is something that requires total simplicity and above all belief in the essential goodness latent in every one. She quite exemplified it, like a quiet and concerned mentor.

Pushing myself to the edge of delusion and then leaping off from there with newly sprout wings demanded shedding loads of gravitating past as well…at least for the time being…and this new understanding now assumes the feel of unbearable lightness for the mind that is so habituated to load balancing….but the difference then was that I was just crawling- loathing and lamenting and now I have begun to fly…and wish I could fly high so that I could see the farthest reaches of the expanses of mindscapes- mine and others as well.

Kazantzakis said it so well- “ Man’s wings won’t sprout until he reaches the brink of an abyss” .

No regrets any way now of having burst out thus no matter how genuine was the concern. I believe that at least from now onwards I will be seen without any deceptive attributes, and so I will not be bestowed with any undeserving respect and consideration.

Just reminded of this poem of Gabriel Okara:

But believe me, son.
I want to be what I used to be

when I was like you. I want to unlearn all these muting things.
Most of all, I want to relearn how to laugh, for my laugh in the mirror
shows only my teeth like a snake's bare fangs!

So show me, son,
how to laugh; show me how
I used to laugh and smile
once upon a time when I was like you.