Of Journeys and Destinations

Earlier this year, in want of a destination [or for lack of a destination or for no clarity of destination], one of the most amazing journeys of my life was curtailed, unexpectedly and all of a sudden, and I haven’t quite recovered from the unexpected evacuation. I would not hide the fact that when journey began or was about to begin, I was not mindful of destination. I was. Selfishly so. The destination or the desire to reach the destination or fear of failure in reaching that desired destination had deluded me; however, once I started the journey, I didn’t look back in the past as well as further in future. Ever since I started that journey, I never bothered about the destination for I was too much into the thrill of the journey for the journey presented itself with a wonderful co-traveller.

It was possible for me to forget the destination for I have always functioned in this manner. The charms of a destination may have inspired me or motivated me to undertake certain journeys in life but I haven’t allowed them to beguile me into forgetting the journey. I have also undertaken journeys for the sake of journey itself and in process reaching destinations that I could never imagine. Destinations were built and destroyed, built again and destroyed again, sometimes they were moved further, sometimes they were ignored – Destinations – are as fickle as humans – capricious, uncertain, deceptive and untrustworthy. As our experience changes, our destination changes too. Someone smitten by a destination undertakes a journey only to realise that in course of their journey, they and their experiences have changed, they might feel duped or disgruntled, and the whole of that particular journey, that took precious moments of their limited life on earth, appears futile.

It was long ago that I learnt to select the journey instead, and to not be bothered by its destination, which is far away in a distant and uncertain future. My mother always played this Gurbani titled Ek din chalna in my childhood days. The Gurbani is a reminder that we all have to leave (this world) someday and it will be all of a sudden. With such a fearless upbringing, it was and is much easier for me to forget destination. For all I know, I may be all looking forward to destination, forgetting the thrill of the journey, and then suddenly I meet my death. I will be deprived of both – journey as well as destination.

People want a destination, a definite destination to become co-travellers, else there are plenty of travellers who share their destination and they are not afraid to partake in their journey. Not that I consider destinations less significant but I, for one, will not let go the thrill of the journey for sake of a deceptive destination. Destinations are uncertain. Reaching there is uncertain too. It may take a long time, or we may end up reaching a point where we come to know that destination is still afar, or we may not reach it at all only to realise that the journey so far wasn’t fulfilling either, or we may realise that destination is something altogether different than what we thought of.

There was a time, when I was much younger, when I had planned my parent’s 25th wedding anniversary, 30th wedding anniversary, and what vehicle will my brother drive to his university and what not. None of those could be fulfilled. I got crushed each time whenever such a plan failed. Then, I grew out of it. Very early in life. I left the chase of destination. I began to enjoy the journey instead. Many years later, in 2015, i.e., today, I am very proud to tell you all that I have no future plans and that I am very happy about this fact.

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For first time in my life, I have become sort of a victim of a racist barb and prejudice, and that too from a person I thought knows me very well, understands me in entirety, and loves me deeply. Now, I am wondering whether I should change the three verbs to their past tense respectively. The prejudice was provoked by a false statement against me. I had expected that the person will rather stand for me and dispute the fact of the statement with the person who,  may be out of malice or may be due to poor/drunken/blurred memory, told the lie about me, and also confirm with me before reaching such prejudiced conclusion. In any case, there was no reason for a racially prejudiced opinion against me even if someone knows me even superficially. 

When you hear such words from totally unexpected person, it numbs you for. I am now wondering if I am anyway going to be judged on basis of hearsay and merely racial prejudice confirming the hearsay against me, and that too from a person who I thought loves me and knows me deeply, then why I should not really behave that way then. At least, the prejudice and the conclusions will get qualified and then I won’t be hurt at all. Since a Brown-skinned Indian is expected to behave or say words that a White-skinned European/American will never say, then why should I really care? I can here write a huge list of things that a White-skinned European/American will never do and that I have done for the person. However, I can’t because I didn’t do them to compensate for the sinful extra melanin in my skin. I did those out of love and genuine care.

I am deeply hurt. Wounded, perhaps. Broken too. It’s been 2-3 days and my heart is not at rest and I feel a certain sensation of aloofness within me.  The worst thing is that the person is the only person I can talk to about this but I am in a situation that I cannot confront the person. Rather, I don’t want to confront the person. If a person hasn’t known me despite a year long association with me, despite having access to my immediate and instant actions, behaviours and gestures on instantaneous situations, and despite claiming the love for me, perhaps explaining is not worth the effort. I also wonder I know that person too well to know that the person will not make such a remark in such a fashion as has been told to me. Nevertheless, it breaks me both ways.

In the end, it’s me who feels like stranger to my own self.  Since I have nobody to talk to about this, I am once again at mercy of this blog’s readers.

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Need A Penpal

Consider this a “Wanted” advertisement. Here is the story of how I came to placing this advertisement.

This Sunday, in my old documents and papers, all of which I carry with me – no matter where I live – I found a blank inland letter and curiously there was a stamp pasted on it [because inland letters don’t require stamp]. The stamp has a picture depicting “Hemant Ritu” – one of the six seasons as per Indian classification of seasons. It falls after autumn and before winters. I checked the online catalogue of stamps released by India Post, and after one hour of searching and checking, I found that this stamp was released in 1996. So, the blank letter has to be about 18-19 years old.  It was torn but still maintained its integrity. I found it among a few old photographs and wondered why that letter was blank, unsent, unreceived. I knew for sure that that letter, if it were ever thought of to be sent, it was intended to be sent to my grandmother.

My grandmother has had such a profound impression on my life that whenever I recall her memories, I am pulled into a different space-time continuum. This time when her memories came rushing to me, I was reminded of letters I used to write to her and the ones she used to write to me. My sister was my first penpal and my grandmother was my second and my lifelong penpal or at least until we got our first telephone connection in late 1999-2000. I was very close to her and would eagerly, desperately and almost -pathetically wait for my summer and winter vacations to visit her and my cousins. More than the cousins, it was the lure of her food, her love and her hospitality that kept on bringing me back to my family’s town, among my cousins, well into my adulthood [mid 20s] until she left this world for a better one. After that, I have visited that town only once.

Now about this “inland letter” – Indian postal service, called as India Post,  has a facility of “Inland Letters” – a bluish foldable letter paper, having three flaps,  one on the left side, another on the right side and another one on the top side. No stamps are required. One would write their message on it, fold it, paste the flaps, put the address, put it in a letterbox nearby, and they were as good as sending a private email. These letter papers were good only for sending your letters within India, and they were delivered via airmail. There was no need for them to be put into an envelope.  I wondered whether they still existed and found out that they still do.

Many a letters were written in those days. To a number of close relatives and friends. To my grandmother, all letters that I wrote were in Hindi/Punjabi. She would write back in Hindi/Punjabi as well. The time taken for a letter to travel was really subjective. Subjected to whims of weather, India Post, post office and postman. The last letter I wrote to a friend went unreplied. It was years ago. The last time I wrote a letter [I actually typed it and printed it] was earlier this year. It was a confession of love to a now lost love.

Now – to the present. This is an advertisement seeking a penpal. Now, I might ask someone I know to be my penpal but then I run the risk of being called crazy, perhaps little demented, or may be – outright silly. Even if I am not called any of these, I don’t want to really associate in this endeavour with the current set of people I know.  They all lack commitment, passion and eagerness in any endeavour meant to be done for heart, by heart and belongs solely to the domain of heart.

This advertisement is for perpetuity -until I find one penpal- male or female or transgender – of any age above 21 – hair or no hair, ill or healthy, happy or depressed, ambitious or carefree-and one with a good supply of paper, pen and skill of at least almost-legible handwriting [or we can decide on typing/printing them]. However, I feel if we are to do it, let’s do it right way – by writing. Proximity to the post office will be an added advantage.  The person must share the passion for sharing, writing, and the thrill of communicating only via letter. Countries no bar. Religion no bar. Sexuality no bar. Race no bar. Gender no bar. Language is a bar – I will prefer to communicate in English.

So long!

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On Accepting The Truth

Satyameva Jayate” , the national motto of Republic of India, has its origins in Mundaka Upanishad, which forms a part of Atharva Veda. It is often translated to English as “Truth Alone Triumphs”. Apart from this lesson on truth, I was also taught “Satyam Shivam Sundaram” . It can roughly be translated to English as “Truth is God. God is Beautiful”. While I was taught to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth, there were no lessons on accepting the truth. I always wondered why the great books and authors of yore wrote nothing about accepting the truth. I wondered whether I have found a question that hasn’t been answered by any book. It was perhaps first time I realised that books have limitations too and it was also the time when I stopped regarding great books as final authority on any subject matter and started to seek out and became an observer of the world. It happened a long time ago. I was too young then.

The lessons on how, when and why of accepting the truth were first taught to me by life itself. I am still unfinished with lessons. No great lessons are learnt unless the heart has been wrenched and life has been squeezed out of it. Having received lessons on accepting the truth, I now understand why no great book contains no lessons on this most difficult endeavour of all age and times. This is because the lessons are impossible to codify. There is no way I can share those lessons. Most elegant of prose that I can employ in service of this endeavour will sound vacuous, and perhaps, shrill too; just like this prose.

While I’ve learnt the lessons on why of accepting the truth, I am still a poor student of lessons on how and when of accepting the truth. I’ve failed in these two lessons at crucial turns of my life. Wherever and whenever, I came to know the when of accepting the truth, I failed at how of accepting it. By the time, I came to know of how of accepting the truth, it’s too late to do anything about it and I ended up becoming surprise victim of circumstances.

I am again at one such turn of my life. I know, for certain, that I should accept the truth and reasons behind the acceptance. I know, for certain, that now is the time to accept the truth. However, I am again stranded at how of accepting the truth. It turns out that the how of accepting the truth is the toughest lesson of the three. I debate, within me, several ways of accepting it. None of the way offers me a happy way of accepting the truth. All of them end up alienating me more, pushing me further into my shell, which goes perfectly with my goal of estranging from the world I know, but then there’s a part of my heart, who wants to live the lie and wants to harbour an eternal hope while knowing very well the fate of hope. It will die under the violent steps of truth.

I have now learnt that how of accepting the truth involves partial suicide. You have to kill a part of yourself and pretend that the part never existed. No matter how violent the experience of accepting the truth is, one must go ahead and embrace the spikes of truth. There is no use of running away from truth for Satyameva Jayate. 

On this Diwali, I wish my readers the strength to accept the truth.

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A Rant About Agitations and Anxieties

These days I am agitated for no apparent reasons. I know the reasons but I don’t want to face them or do anything about them. Not that I am terrified of facing them but I am not certain whether I can really accomplish anything by facing them. I want to run away. To a far off country. A new country where I have never been and where I spend a portion of the rest of my life. Since migrating to a new country isn’t easy in the era of rapidly globalising world, I am waiting for the day when governments world over also recognise the people running away from their lives as refugees.

I want to break all my friendships, relationships, bonds and acquaintances forever. All appear superficial. All appear a way of deluding ourselves into believing that we can count on them. All of them, as it appears, have made me a handicap of sorts. Why do we need them anyway? A self-declared and self-styled misanthrope like me certainly doesn’t need any company. I can do without company. Inside my heart, a fierce battle is on. I am leaving everything and everyone behind. It is happening. I can feel that. I know that slowly and gradually, I will leave all and everyone behind. I made a huge progress in this act the other week. When I gave a miss to a send-off of sorts to a person I have so deeply come to love. That last time we met might be the last time we met. Ever. As soon as such a thought flashes by my mind, my heart is shaken violently. It sinks and rises, and in its pits and peaks, I seek something. An anchor, perhaps.

There is no place to seek peace. It appears that peace has been missing for long time. It went on a vacation and then forgot me. Then, I am forgettable. It is no fault of peace that it forgot me. Peace might have left after getting agitated from my agitations and anxieties. Why would it want to come back to someone so restless?

I want to burn all my books. I have deleted many of them from my Kindle and iBooks, but then there is something similar about technology and life that you just can’t get rid of things you don’t want. They are preserved in cloud. If your memory is strong and spacious, you cannot get rid of them at all. I can download them at a single stroke of my finger. I tried burning a book that I hadn’t finished reading. As I set its top right edge on fire, I was agitated by the agitation that will be borne out of burning a book unfinished. I am still unable to leave everything and everyone behind. I trampled the burning edge of the book with my fingers and resolved to finish it before setting it to fire again. Now, I am agitated by the space it takes on my shelf as I procrastinate finishing it.

I am not given into halves. I am unable to do anything half-heartedly or leave matters unfinished. Last night I cooked an egg dish – a large amount of it – so that I can also eat it the next day but I cannot leave one half of it in the refrigerator. I finished it all. I cannot leave my food and drinks unfinished. It agitates me. My refrigerator is always empty. The two days before that I spent whole day without eating or drinking.

I am a spiteful man these days. I have run out of benevolence. It may be because it has not been returned to me by the people I made receiver of my benevolence.  All I am left with is malice. I also think that maybe there never was benevolence in me from the beginning and that malice is all I am actually made up of. Malice and spite.

I am uncertain. Only matter that I am certain about is that I want to run away. Very far. Forever and I will. When I have gradually walked away from all and everything, when I am comfortably estranged with all and everything and make everyone and everything estranged from me, I will run away to far off land. I will have no regrets of leaving the matters unfinished then.

Or this all may be my restlessness and anxieties talking.

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