Monday, May 12, 2008

Who was she?...

Was Sa happy or was he chasing the rat race? Run, run and run and the road keeps extending. He doesn’t have a definite answer to this query but all he could say is that he was following a pattern, a pre-set societal blueprint. Every morning when he woke up, he used to think about the milestone that he had planned to reach, and late at night when he hit the bed, he used to do a catharsis of how close or how far he was from that destination.

Now if some sensible person asked Sa what he was after, he would struggle for a befitting reply, but all that mattered at that moment, clear like a crystal was to make it big, real big in life. He felt this 'real big' word was a bit deceptive. 'Real big' is like a mirage, the more nearer one goes, the farther the view range extends. Still there is a stage in life, when all these dichotomies just don’t matter much and there is one thing creeping in the mind. That one thing is some goal about which he knew but then again he didn't know.

Time passed by and the so did, Sa in his journey. He worked very hard, learned every trick in the trade. Soon he was walking, talking and behaving like one of those in the business circles, the 'in', 'with it' crowd. Everything he did was always pointed towards getting what he wanted, measured, calculated and assessed. It's not that success was his partner all the time, even the numerous lessons in failure alongside, made him worked harder. His career needle was accelerating northwards, with muddiness still sitting like a couch potato within him. He made lots of friends, who were always there in times of celebration and festivity but couldn't count on any when there was dark cloud over his ceiling.

The badges and emblems of worldly success were slowly getting into his bag. Everyday at around midnight, when he opened the door of the apartment, he was sure that he was getting one step closer to his target. He was not afraid of the loneliness that awaited him as he knew it was only for half a night, and then as morning drew close, he felt energized hoping that in a few hours he would be in his kingdom, with his rules of governance.

And then she came, to use a cliché, like a breath of fresh air after long gap. She was everything that he was not, she stood for everything that he did not, she believed in everything that he did not, she did everything that he did not.

She reminded Sa of the senior professor, who had assigned him with a bagful of responsibilities about a decade ago while he was an intern. Polite, poised, well-behaved, never loosing temper, accommodating, in short humility personified. These are a few commonalities that they shared, but there was a lot more to this remarkable woman. It was kind of a scenario in which one feels overloaded with words to express but you just can’t express. Heart in heart, there is a sudden flood of phrases, similar to the kind when water gushes when the dam gates are opened. She seemed too good to be real. Did he mention she was good? Maybe he was using that word because he was short of words as to how to describe her. Yes, she was good in the sense that she was good in what she believed in, stood for or did. And perhaps that was what made him like her, though he often found her beliefs unearthly, her attitudes and values outdated. Sa could not but admire the way she stood for them and acted on them and, yes, she was really good in that. She stood for 'what you preach is what you practice'.

Sa having come across a host of personalities in his work-circle somehow found her to be unreal. She did not behave like the people he interacted with or dealt with in his day-to-day life, and that really made him comfortable on the surface and uncomfortable in the interior.

She made all his years of bookish experience and knowledge feel like useless, though that was never her intention. That’s how Sa felt it, all acquired skills were just bi-sected and looked upon in a different angle. He was trained to always read between the lines, to study the body language, to know what a person really meant. He always tried to study the expression in the eyes, as they normally did not lie. He also developed the skill that enabled him to see through the veils of words spoken and signals sent. He was trained to differentiate between a genuine smile and a fake one. He learnt to gauge the degree of warmth in a person.

Did any book teach him that, nah nah never.

Everybody around Sa was an actor. Yes, they did show emotions, but everything was calculative. Every smile was calculated every tear was accounted for, every hug executed to enhance relationships, every handshake to convey messages. He was with everyone, but did not belong to anyone. Every relationship had its own value and place in the larger scheme of things and served some purpose or the other and always acted as a mean. Sa was not apologetic about this because everybody did it. That’s the way, life is modeled after in today’s age. Rather, that’s the only way Sa had seen the world so far.

And as Sa said at the very beginning, was he happy? Still no clues about that.

But, she changed all that. He tried to read between the lines, study the body language and always noticed for the eye movements; few were positive hits but every time he failed, he failed miserably. This irritated him, frustrated and angered him; Sa felt he was losing the edge, the ability to get through the veils of people, and that really was a scary thought. So, he tried harder since he never accepted defeat, he was not a loser. But, he failed time and again. But there are times in life, when even the taste of defeat brings comfort.

Her actions always matched the words she spoke, her smile was always genuine, and her hug was always full of warmth. But, how could this be true? How could a person live without pretending or shamming?

From the day she started living with him, his world turned upside down. He returned home early, yes it had become a home, it was not a house bordered by concrete walls anymore. Now, when he inserted the key, he knew there was someone to attend to him. He knew she genuinely cared for him. Her relationship was free flowing, because Sa was the end as well as the starting point for her. Her love for him was unconditional and unselfish and it did not have any ulterior motive, she loved him for what he was.

She cooked all his favorite dishes; she knew what he wants, when. She nurses him when he is ill, she takes him in her arms when he wants to cry (most often in the railway stations and airports before the final departure call) so that Sa feels secure. After so many years, he can laugh and cry when he wants to, not when others expect him to.

Sa is no longer a restless soul anymore. He doesn’t wake up everyday to run and remain ahead of the crowd. Yes, he still enjoys his work, but it is no more the centre point of his existence. There is a big world to explore, just that someone needs to provide one with the right lens to checkout the right colors. He does no longer want to achieve 'it' or reach 'there'. And yes, he is very happy, and this happiness is not a superficial, non-penetrating and deep, vacant feeling like it was earlier. Now his happiness does not need a measuring rod, is not linked to the things Sa is doing or achieving. This makes his new found happiness, complete, composite, stress-free and devoid of any pressure or worries. Yes, it is for real.

And, this has become possible because of her. Sa wonders how he managed all these years without her, after he left for his graduation school. He regrets not having her with him for so long. But, he is glad that he has her now and he wants to make up for all the lost time. He wants to tell her how much he loves her, how essential and integral she is to his existence, how meaningful she has made his life, and Sa wants to thank her for all the things she has done and keeps doing for him, for all the love she has given him, for the care and concern she has shown him and, most importantly, for always being there for him whenever he needs her.

That night after dinner, when she came and sat beside Sa, all he could do was look into her eyes and say, 'Maa, I love you.'

She took him in her arms, patted his back and said, 'Stupid, you need not say that. I know you love me.'
Happy Mother's Day.

Keep reading and remain connected.

(Note: The pic in this post is by David Zimmerly, an anthropologist and world traveler.)

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