Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Voice

From your very childhood and then well into higher classes you had only one Aim. Every thought of yours could relate to that ultimate want of yours. Your parents and teachers were happy to see your absolute focus and unending enthusiasm for your chosen avenue. The craving of attaining your Aim slithered inside you like a snake and completely ensnared your every thought. It became a burning desire.
Your expectations took you through a virtual whirlwind tour of success leaving you to gasp for breath thinking of the moment when your plans will be crowned with success.
Matters were moving smoothly and you were cruising along perfecting your  Plan when one day suddenly you realised that the scenes were not moving according to your script. You tried harder but things started going awry. From one unexpected twist to another, the drama which started unfolding had nothing in common with your years of yearning and preparation. You realised, to your chagrin,  the matters were now sliding beyond your control. You shifted gears, giving greater thrust to your daily input, but the vehicle of life was now slipping inexorably beyond your control, taking in its wake your cherished dreams, your hopes, your place in the Sun.
You were now in a state of panic. The much cherished Aim now distorted beyond recognition lay in its dying throes. You became desperate to take anything which came your way. The job you finally landed up with was too alien to your thoughts. You were unsure of your next step, fumbling to find your bearings. Everything now looked foreign and you moved in a stupor not able to relate to this sudden change in your life. Numb and paralysed with uncertainty, the mind went into a tizzy not able to comprehend the complications life had suddenly thrown your way.
Somehow you were able to stand up from the rubble of the horrid catastrophe thinking, “This can’t be happening to me. I am a lucky guy. I never planned anything like this in my scheme of things.” Some remote corner of the mind whispers, “It has happened. Now what?” To which you laugh and shaking your head say, “It is a passing phase. It will soon be over.”
Two months pass by. And nothing happens. There is still no remission. Everything hurts. Every comforting word from everyone seems like a knife plunging into the guts.
One morning you get up and throw the pillow at the window in rage. “How the hell did this happen to me? I haven’t hurt anyone, or made anyone miserable. Why should I be singled out for this treatment?” There is no answer. There is that exploding mass of heat in the chest waiting to be exhaled. But it is not coming out. The agony increases many fold. You shout at the cleaning maid. Mom too gets an earful. The siblings are confused and scared of you. But the pain is unrelenting. “So much of effort and it all failed. Why? How?” The whole day goes out in analysis of the perfect plan you had chalked out for yourself. There is no part where the effort was less than perfect. But the plan failed to click.
It has been two years now. You have a different job now. You meet different people now. You are trying to pull back from the dregs. But every now and then the monster of the past resurfaces disturbing the shroud of tranquillity you have tried to mask yourself with. In some moments, it seems you have left the past behind. You even pass some days totally absorbed in your new avenue. Then suddenly the beast of the past hits back powerfully. You cringe at the wily ways it has found to claw back into the recesses of your memories. It mocks your ceaselessly. It scoffs at every step you take to make yourself better and stronger. It preys on your confidence. And it takes its heaviest toll on the weekends when you are alone. You look to Mondays to escape from this hideous brute. You tell everyone that work was the recommended device to control every vice. But beneath your serene demeanour lurks the fear of looking into the eyes of your past and all that had gone wrong which made you a dwarf in your own esteem.
Years roll by and you are firmly entrenched in your new profession. Everyone looks up to you. Everyone thinks you have it made. Everyone, except yourself. You are now resigned to fate. You enjoy the perks which others would kill to achieve. But you are joyless. Stifled and  trapped in the confines of your own making, you fail to see how far you have come since the day when your plans started going sour. The credit of your balance sheet is brimming to the full. The debit shows only one entry. Your first dream.
You are in deep slumber after a particularly busy day. Its hot and humid outside. The electricity department seem to enjoy torturing the city with an unannounced power shut down. But you are unaffected. Sleeping in the cool confines of your air conditioned house powered by generators, the agonies of a suffocating, perspiring city does not bother you.  You do not share the discomfort of the lesser privileged. The retinue of your servants have left having locked the house and seen to the comforts of their master.
Suddenly a blinding flash of white light seems to fill your room. You get up with a start. The light is toned down but still intense. You look askance everywhere.
A deep resonating voice says, “Well?”
You are a brave man. You don’t get easily unnerved . The mind is working overtime. Where is this voice coming from? Has the television suddenly switched on. There is something ethereal about the voice.  But you can’t see anything. It seems the whole room is a huge void. And you are sitting in the midst of it. Strangely you are not feeling afraid. The palms are not wet with perspiration.
You: “Who is this? I can’t see you?”
The Voice : “ I know that. You haven’t been able to see for a long time now.”
You: “Stop fooling around and come in front of me where I can see you.”
The Voice : I am in front of you. I don’t fool people. If you cannot see me, despite being with me, is it My fault?”
You : “What do you want from me?”
The Voice : “ What can you give Me?”
You : “Turn off that light, will you? I can’t talk to a voice I can’t see.”
The Voice : “Is it?  Did you not pander to a non-existent voice all  these years and ignore the reality you were faced with?” The Voice wasn’t irritated or angry. Just probing.
You : “What do you know about reality? All my best laid plans were ground to dust despite my devotion and love for them. The life I am living seems to be a footnote compared to the grandeur of my plan.
The Voice : Your plan…I see. No fault of yours making plans and trying to get there. But did you take into account the lives of others which would be altered had your plan worked?
You : It was my plan, my life, my calculation. I had worked it out to perfection. I wanted to reach there. Why should I be bothered to include anyone else in my plan of things?
The Voice : Let me rephrase my question. Ever since you were born, someone fed you, someone clothed you, someone took care of you till you were able to do these things for yourself. Surely you hadn’t planned all this since the moment you were born?
You : How can anyone expect an infant to do all this? What sort of daft question is this?
The Voice : Which means you were someone else’s plan?
You : Well, sort of. My parents must have planned it.
Voice : Thus their plan affected your life. Is it not?
You : Hmmm…I see where you are going.
The Voice : Thank you. But my query first. Why didn’t you factor in how your plan would affect the lives of others. Of those people you knew and those you didn’t.
You : Even if I knew how my plan would affect others, it was impossible for me to know them beforehand. Suffice to say, I would have been very happy had my plan gone through.
Voice : Happy? What do you know about happiness? I see that you are surrounded with comfort of every kind, but still you are not happy. You are oh so successful in everyone’s eyes, but you do not care about it. You only rue what you didn’t get. You never feel grateful for the tonnes of goodies you did get. And you have the audacity to claim that your plan, which was incidentally full of glaring errors, would have made you happy? Get up and smell the coffee. Look outside your ivory tower, and see how difficult it is for so many of your compatriots to eke out a living. And look at your luxuries. You seem to have made a habit out of being rather churlish.” The Voice did not admonish,  just seemed to point out your nature of late.
You : Hmmm..maybe you are right. What do you propose I do?
The Voice : I won’t propose anything. It is your life. You will do exactly as it pleases you. All I have to say is that there is a world out there. Get out of your cocooned existence and feel the pain and want of the less fortunate. Alright tell Me something you have, which you value the most.
You reply unflinchingly: My dignity.
The Voice : Has that ever been compromised? Barring some people who are at war with their own self, has anyone defiled your dignity in public?
You : No. That never happened.
The Voice : Have you ever seen a day when you had to scrounge for food or shelter?
You : No.
The Voice : You prefer not to eat much because you want to stay fit and slim. Nothing wrong in that. But much of the population here have to fight daily which you forego in a bid to hold your waistline.
You : What are you driving at?
Voice : The very obvious fact. That you have got it. Every bit that is required to exist here. You do not have any business to be sad or grumble.
You : Now that you put it this way, it is tough to say I am not lucky. But there still remains that unfinished business.
Voice : How can you be so na├»ve?  That dream of yours is over. Today is your present. And you have every reason to rejoice. What you had dreamt belonged to someone else. What you have today belongs to you. You will not fit in that dream and no one else will fit in your slot. Don’t you realise that you are so unique that you alone can do the job entrusted to you? You might say that this post will be filled by someone else when you are no longer here or that the industry was here before you were born. That’s right. But your being here has its effects to such far reaching places of which you have no inkling. Every particle in this universe is performing some act at a given moment and that is critical to the acts done by others. Take out one of the seemingly disconnected parts and the whole Creation will fall apart. 
You : Like I am a small cog in a huge machine, but the machine can’t move without my being there?
Voice : You got it. And now that you got it, One hopes that you will accept the reality of your being and move onward. Not cling to your past.
You : That pretty well solves some real big question. But hey listen why is this light fading..wait…I still have one more question.
Voice : Another time…I am always there. You have to just look for me.

A sharp stab of music jolts you. The first bars of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. Your hand instinctively reaches out to fumble for the cell phone’s snooze button. You turn on your side and open your eyes. The dream was too vivid not to be real. But there was a faint trace of a sublime fragrance in the air.


Mallika Biswas said...

Strumming my pain with his fingers,singing my life with his words, killing me softly with his song killing me softly.....this is the story of all those who would like to honestly analyse their lives.
Thanks for such a wonderful piece.

varalika tripathi said...

In such a simple manner u have disclosed the most sought after mystery of life.The agony of a broken dream is hardest to overcome .Even if we find something better it keeps haunting us .We don't realize the fact that our life is a dream for many others in the world.

kishn rai said...

When ever we make a plan we think I can do it.The fact is that we dont take cognizance of inputs put by other people,situations,resources and GOD.When things dont go as we have planed then we think that my dream has been shattered but give a thought that other people have also been affected they may not show you their hurt but they are also feeling the pain.
When a dream is broken it lingers on and keep on giving us pain.We try to comfort our self by telling us that it does not matter by giving various logic but it keeps on rearing it head time and again.
BECAUSE WE HAVE NOT ACCEPTED THE FACT WHOLEHEARTEDLY WE STILL WANT TO KEEP IT ALIVE THOUGH IN PAST.If one wants to come out of such situation then ACCEPT IT in totality with sincerity and you will find it has gone.

Priyali Prakash said...

Beautifully written Sir. So much to learn and imbibe from it. :)

Meetu Varanjani said...

This is something each one would relate to. Each line forces you to think and rethink.seemed your article was 'the voice' with whom i was conversing with..thank you for sharing this one

Jahnvi Jethanandani said...

No plans , No calculations and no expectations actually work out .. What has to happen will happen ..Hopes turn into plans, plans into expectations...and expectations are destroyed by reality..the fine line of hopes and expectations once crossed give only pain ..be content with the present and leave the planning part to Him...

Smita Bhattacharya said...

As generation grow restless and the need to prove oneself rises, these questions arise more in my view. I haven't heard existential questions from my parents or grandparents but they burn in me. And then rises the questions of karma and destiny. It's true - go with the flow, rise when you fall and hold steady and grounded when you rise.

raman tewari said...

Very nicely written and explained sir , just what i needed to hear. Its fantabulous