Six months into the year, nothing is new any longer. The prime minister, the phones, the books and the movies have all settled comfortably into the “accustomed to” category. All but the resolutions we made earnestly over that eventful New Year’s-eve.
As the clock struck twelve and 2015 dawned upon us, I remember thinking with steely determination of all the things to be accomplished during the year. The Internet was heavily browsed for the easiest way to stick to the resolutions. Glorious images of one floating around the kitchen looking chic with apron and top hat, a bit like the contestants on MasterChef; a fitter body that didn’t have to grunt every time it tried to touch its toes; and a better-read shelf with Kafka finally done, flitted in and out of the mind. I should have realised then it was the adrenaline and the delicious plum cake speaking.
The first step was to look up challenges. Because aren’t they fun to accomplish? The Goodreads challenge was hastily signed up for and reading a hundred books promised to the book-loving Internet society. Second-hand bookstores were raided and shelves stocked. Ever heard of the squirrel that couldn’t get through even half of its hoard of nuts? You’re looking at it. Sleep became a more important event than exercise. For hey, flab is lost and gained, but the time spent sleeping can never be replaced. So after weeks of setting my alarm early and shutting it off myself without batting an eyelid, I gave up on the exercise routine. And the MasterChef plan, well, um. Perhaps I thought watching the show was better than being one, for that has not yet materialised either.
Sometimes, they say, all that a man needs to succeed is to challenge himself. But sometimes all we need is to do what we want to, and the momentum builds up by itself. True, I did not and perhaps cannot now fulfil my Goodreads challenge, and Kafka has not yet been touched. But I discovered instead D.H. Lawrence and Emily Dickinson. The former I picked up quite unabashedly because of the particularly beautiful cover of Lady Chatterly’s Lover, and the latter because of a snip of her verse I read – “I’m nobody. Who are you? / Are you nobody too?”. That stood out in stark contrast from the side of me that wanted very badly to be somebody. I skipped a masterpiece, but gained masters of writing. Mother decided, against loud feminist protests from my side, that twenty one was old enough to help her out in cooking, and I discovered strange solitude in adding dollops of sugar to tea and coffee, mixing batter and just contentedly listening to the grinder whir.
The year so far, thus, has been beautiful. I have not visited an exotic place, but have seen the serene quiet waves of the neighbouring town by the sea. I have not caught up on the ‘Game of Thrones’ TV series, but have discovered ‘The Newsroom’ instead. And though the daily Guardian Crossword remains unsolved, my interest in the genre of cryptic crosswords grows. You see, as they say, the best moments of life are the unplanned ones.
(This was published in The Hindu on June 16. Yay! )
Bound books, thick and theoretical and imposing intelligence on students still unaffected by the many masks the world wears, abysmal aberrations they are indeed. There is this animal instinct in mankind to define everything, as if every grand and trivial object on earth can have a definite form. Define man. Define woman. Define love. Define the ray of sunshine that graciously streams in from the open window forming criss-cross patterns as it falls on the tiled floor. The sense of satisfaction when one has something succinctly defined and written down in a neat hand is as they say, out of the world.
But we must beg to differ.
If anything, this satisfaction can only be next to that of not being able to label, bring to form, delimit. The sense of joy in knowing the unknown is out there, the thrill of anticipation of something beyond words- the knowledge of being ignorant is bliss.
For words cannot define the moment your puppy pushes his wet nose into your hands. Words cannot define a cuddle that lingers long after.
Words cannot define that sudden jolt of fear when you find him not beside you. Words cannot define the shudder running down your spine.Words cannot define the quiet relief when you see a familiar face in the crowd. Words cannot define the fact that you remember the scent long after they left and no, words cannot define the abyss of longing that follows separation.
But no, it is also not possible to define why man feels hungry. Not for food, but for love. For something that he claims he has found, but lacks the next moment. They cannot define how his heart houses someone one moment, and quite somebody else the next. How his heart refuses to let go of a person long after they’ve transcended through to Elysia. How his heart guards his soul. How his mind is a jail his heart is bound in. How even as his life goes on, his heart stops living.
How his heart breaks into crumbs of nothingness even as it pumps blood.
How love makes life seem like a bag of old leaves waiting to be raked up.
Man is complex, and complex seems to be an underrated word. No we are not defining man, for to put the mass of physical traits and emotional anomalies with its bagful of conflicting emotions and unattainable desires in shapes of ink is sure to be unyielding. Try to define man, and you find volumes of poetry; but try and leave him uninhibited in his space, and you find in his complexity unnerving simplicity. Simple because a smile conveys the tremendous joy that lifts a man to the level of frenzy. Because a tear contains the battered remains of a broken heart. Because a kiss has in it the constrained longing of a besotted soul.
Define not the innocence of first love, define not the trembling shyness of lovers, and define not this world.
Let the bound books, thick and theoretical and imposing intelligence on students still unaffected by the many masks the world wears, abysmal aberrations as they are, not misguide you.