Sunday, 23 October 2016

Scenes from Judge’s Ghat on a cloudy day, Or Questions on Death.

A walk by the riverside can mean a number of things. For the old man it might mean some fresh air in his tired lungs, for a child it might mean ample space to run and burn his energy, for lovers it might just mean sitting together, trying to make the best use of the horizon which includes pretending that the endless flow of time, by some act of magic, has been put on a stop only for them. What makes such pretensions remarkable is that these sometimes turn out to be the only shots at their private eternities which otherwise resist production. Curiously, for me, such a walk a few days ago had resulted in a number of questions which disgusts me and laughs at creativity. I am grappling with them to this day.
It was late at noon and I was alone in the house. I needed to take a break for my work only to come back to it with some rest and fresh perspectives. The general ideas about a walk by the riverside lured me into taking one and I did not try to guard myself from the temptation. Quickly collecting the essentials, I came out and took a taxi. Initially, I thought that I would just take a taxi ride, but it started raining while I was on my way. So I thought that I would get down and see whether the camaraderie of the rain and the river manages to evoke some inspiration which I needed desperately at that moment. When I finally reached the riverside, the rain had stopped. But it was cloudy outside. I got down at Judge’s Ghat and started walking as i watched a man trying his hard to anchor his boat to a post but failing miserably every time. A little later I came across a very familiar scene of a sradhh ceremony which was being performed under a nearby shed. I have seen these before but this time what struck me was a mundane and a tremendously bleak statement which I felt was being communicated to me. I saw a garlanded picture of a very old woman who was probably the mother of a family of four sons who were now standing in a line to perform their ceremonial rites. What was remarkable was all of them were old with the first one in the line barely able to carry the length of his life on his knees. The conditions of the rest were a little better but it was far from what one would consider remotely healthy. To my utter disgust, I felt the line was a little longer than it actually looked like. After all, it is a matter of time that all these seemingly loyal sons will join their mother and their last rites would be taking place in the same way if not in the same place. It was my private version of the Great Chain of Being whose beginning and end were out of sight. But it was visible, palpable....very much so in its movement which is romantically determined and pathetically irreversible. But there was nothing fascinating about it. What I saw has been happening all along. It is a repetition of the most cheaply accessible truth which requires no intellectual comprehension.
It is futile to assert that all this was known. But the regularity of it, somewhat divorced from it’s process, had not struck me before. We keep talking about death because it allows us to do so from a distance. We don’t discuss it because we know what death is. We discuss it because we don’t know what it is. We try to appropriate it, we try to win against it, we try to look for it, some even tries to discard it. Tagore writes Mrityunjoy, Mozart composes Requiem, Mann writes Death in Venice, Bergman makes The Seventh Seal...all in the name of death. You might look away from it, you might love it or you might worship it... yes, you can do whatever you like because there is room for free play. But what do these do to the regularity of event? The meaningful meaningless of it? The futility of it? These questions evoke responses inside which I have not been able to understand. With every recurrence of the event, they fill me with a sense of irritation..and also exhaustion ..Perplexing as these are, they sacrifice themselves at the feet of thought..but comes back in a much more nagging and particularly nauseating form to ask,
“ Is Death boring?’’

Friday, 13 July 2012

A Man Who Died.

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 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


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

A night with history.

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 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.