A man died yesterday. Or today. I vaguely remember how it was. He was a relative of mine.I went to his room after his body was taken away to the burning ghat. They say he was a learned man. He had his business with the metaphysical rebellions that often occur in one's head when the deep and powerful questions of intellectual frustration begins to knock the unvisited corners of one's mind....shakes the belief systems which one had nurtured for a lifetime...protecting them carefully from the logical explanations and brutal tests of pragmatism...there was a table in his room...two books...One Orwell..the other one...maybe an Arthur Miller. a personal diary..with a few sketches...a few notes on how his health has been deteriorating gradually...on how he was coming to terms with the inevitable. What had struck me then was...wait... why isn't what had struck me then not clear to me anymore?... I think I'm losing coherence of words..thoughts...but that is how my mind is working. What do I care if other people blame me for talking in Beckettian convolutions.....however, some fragmented pieces of thought that had struck me then is coming to me.It is something like... a few days ago,even yesterday, all the ideas and concepts written down in those books were on his mind. Today, those ideas are still there in the books,but, the man is no more and the mind, non-existent...Yes! this is what I was thinking as I was standing in his room. The transformation of a soul, of a body that was a holder of feeling, emotions and sexual urges into absolute nothingness, was something which I was not being able to digest even after several attempts. As I stood at the feet of his dead body, I wondered where have all the thoughts gone that had once juggled with Galbraith's prescription of an affluent society and the tales of a nihilist as penned down by Turgenev? The thoughts can't be dead, right? All the great men have talked about the immortality of thoughts. But why wasn't there any signs of life in the mind that had once given birth to all the thoughts? Has the mind been captivated, incarcerated by death too? That can't be possible. Tagore said he was greater than death. At least that he said, was his ultimate and greatest realization before death.Maybe, the man who died had this realization before his death. But...there is also a chance that nothing of that sort had occurred to him. I'm in no position to judge. All these thoughts...a desparate attempt to reach a conclusion has led me to a terrible headache...as the questions which are tearing me apart, the realizations that hadn't quite dawned upon me but has come back...revived itself...has no answer. Or maybe....the man has not died. Maybe, all of it-was just a dream. Results of a deep sleep. As is Death which is also a sleep but,where, the one who sees the dream never gets a chance to share it as his sleep and his dreams are for another world, another dimension and another space and time, which is still incomprehensible to us, mortals.
Sunday, 17 June 2012
Take me to the station
And put me on a train,
I’ve got no expectations
To pass through here again
The voice of Jagger comes tumbling from the Tape Recorder, as I try to understand the song, the feeling that evokes from it. Not from the arrangements, but from the sets of small pieces of imagination that the song helps to assort to create a complete story.Somehow I imagine an Englishman with a suitcase in his hand... tired of his professional imbroglios and societal pretenses... leaving his hometown, pushing aside expectations. I'd prefer to stretch the term 'expectations' to its broadest sense, as the despair that has engulfed this young man has acted like an epidemic..affecting all the aspects of his mortal life...one by one..and has compelled him not to expect anything,from anyone. I say despair, but isn't there a certain amount of freedom in that? To be aloof, to be in a kind of solitary and imposed confinement? to lock your soul up in a cage? Not to be blamed for the consequences of your actions by other people? Well maybe. Maybe not. The analysis never stops. Coming back to the song, it is a tale of longing...a longing to have a perfect past..a perfect love..which hasn't come true. It is a typical blues song, where the guitar sets the mood of the listener with the vocals painting the 'situation' even more perfectly... evoking a sense of dejection, a feeling to let go of things for once.
I think, we all at one point of time, have tried to be the man, Jagger describes here in this song. The brutalities and the convolutions of this mortal life with very rare moments of expansion takes us down at one point of time. But we, being lesser mortals, can never gather the courage to let go of the biggest weakness of Human Beings- Expectations. No matter how dejected we are, no matter how badly wounded we are, we keep on expecting from our lives. To be pessimistic, is outdated these days, but to keep expecting also annihilates the possibility to drift, which although is a very light fall out of youthful rebelliousness..or at least a dream of it...is attractive. For once, it seems okay to leave your responsibilities back, by jerking off your shoulder..so that along with the necessary social evils, you can also get rid of expectations that kind of forces you to remain static, trapped in the mire of social norms. A moment of escapade is needed, when one can say with no strings attached,
So take me to the airport
And put me on a plane,
I’ve got no expectations
To pass through here again
I was sad when the preceding batches had their farewell. Today, as the rays of the setting sun, peeped through the half closed window of the classroom, I realized it was my farewell.As I was sitting on the classroom floor,deep inside my mind I heard a note playing. There was a voice too. Melodious. I listened intently. Somebody was singing
'All Things must pass
All Things must pass away.....'
Exupery was right, when he said that when you understand a song, it begins to speak to you in a language, which no one else around you can hear or understand
The city has a history. Embellished with tales of glory and conquests. But now it is almost a dead city. There are people,houses... traces of settlement here and there,but a lonely traveler who is walking through looks around and feels that somehow, the city has ceased to exist. Maybe, he is wrong because a few steps ahead of him, an old man is singing with a guitar which is pretty old and probably broken...the cracked voice of the old man along with the notes he is playing gives one a sense of rhythm which is analogous to life somehow...as they say music and death are like counterpoints.But the dilapidated architectures which tries to tell the tales of glory compels the observer to re-affirm his faith about the decadent nature of the city. It is as if, the city with all it's sumptousness and glory has gradually been swamped by the sands of time. It's inhabitants hardly care as they have to deal with their regular economic problems but a stranger often feels that the city has long stopped to experience what we call 'progress'.People living there hardly care about the political problems rocking the world currently or the events which have drawn world wide attention. It seems that they are livng in some kind of social and to some extent intellectual confinement which is self-created.Coming from a metropolitan city characterized with cultural synthesis and cosmopolitanism, this uncanny trait of the city hits the stranger hard. The inhabitants though ethnically heterogeneous appears to naked eye as homogeneous in terms of their ignorance and voluntary intellectual confinements.
He goes out at night, to explore the city in order to check if his first impressions were superficial. But as he stands infront of the mammoth architectures his mind rolls back to those time when the city was densely poplulated with an expanding trading network, beautifully centralized administration and with all the necessary traits that would make it's inhabitants proud. The quietness of the night gives his mind a kind of space for imagination just like the silence between two notes provide an experienced listener to form a musical sound of his own.He can literally see the great historical events of the place passing in front of his eyes like the sequence of a film.He could see the bloody battles and upon listening carefully he could hear the intricate conspiracies among the traitors to dethrone the king.
In the morning as he returns, he discovers that his impression of the city has changed. Though nothing has changed around him. The streets have remained dusty and the farmer like everyday is out with his ploughing instruements to begin his tiresome day's work. But these do not catch the traveler's eyes any more. He has begun to live in history. Something has changed his perception. Was it the night? Or the architectures which suddenly cast collective spells on him? Is the whole thing an illusion? Or is this whole account a fiction? Some questions remain unanswered. Like some songs, which are perhaps better, left unsung.