Pondering for a few days over this, I bumped upon someone in the attic of my mind. I wiped off the dust from that box of memories. And wondered how long it has been (almost 10 years) and how I had completely forgotten about this someone!
Disclaimer: This can be longer than you expect.
Ravi Rajeev is this guy. And he used to write a column called 'Good Morning Pune'. He wrote an article every alternate day about anything under the sun. It was published on the 3rd page of the local supplement, not a very big deal really.
The newspapers had just begun to show first signs of aging. Only a few nerds like me, went beyond the current affairs and looked at the editorials and side supplements. (Actually I like the editorials more than the news). It was a thing of wonder as to what it is like to write on a daily feature of a local newspaper. Won't someone die of curiosity as to how was the article received? Did it hurt, if you saw someone eating bhel-puri on a parchment with your own article on it? Would you crane your neck in a public place watching people read a paper, and cringe if they pass over your page? You write everyday for a newspaper for heaven's sake, but you are still no celebrity. You don't even know if people like you or hate you; or even worse, don't know if you exist as a speck in this universe. But surely, there is some powerful urge inside to go on writing every other day for all those who read. Nothing like today where people just come on your article online and thwart you mercilessly or leave a gracious compliment then and there.
"....Forgiveness, my scriptures tell me, is a virtue of the strong. Be it. Maybe I am not strong, that I can't forgive and forget easily. Never on earth did forgiving someone give me the satisfaction of being strong..... I wanted a tooth for a tooth, a nail for a nail and that was strength for me. To be able impart justice was strength to me........... But today I have been forgiven by someone, and I know how devastated I would have been, if I wasn't."
That last line hit home like a strong sudden gush of wind that blew off the closed window of my reverie! I wondered, did that hit just me or there are others who perceived it the way I did?
"....this kid says to me, "Dada whats the big deal about an interesting job? Its all about money. Of all the kids that do an MBA, how many of them understand its importance? Its like a Bachelor's degree now, you just have to have it. Whatever job I get, I will eventually develop an interest in it to survive. And now a days everyone cribs about what they do and their bosses anyways, so what difference does it make?" ..........I am wondering, if I am a fool to write here just for the love of writing? ....................Something is not right some where. Its about time that kids get out of this rat race. Unfortunately, its a self created trap and I feel its ruining the spirit of our children................. What a pitiful generation it would be who doesn't understand the word 'Motivation'."
It sure was a scary thought. After this one, every time I have to make a choice, I ask myself, how long can I go on doing this for no reward? Decisions became less regretted upon, since then.
"......when saying good-byes, the pain of separation drives us to doing two things- allow ourselves to feel the pain and respond accordingly; or shut out the pain and simply say 'OK! bye then'. You would notice that, you wouldn't want to do the latter unless you want to make the person feel as important as last night's dinner, but surprisingly, majority of people choose the feeble second option! If there is a sense of finality its even more difficult; though people who believe in rebirth can always says, 'See you in Barista, after 80 yrs'........ You always want to say something profound, but more often than not it sounds stupid.........................I'll never forget you? You will live forever in my heart? This is just so-long and not farewell? .............All I know is before the person parts, you have to let that person know how much he/she mattered to you! And if there is an antithesis to the phrase 'better said than done', its the last good bye.
In a lighter vein, it said a lot. My reaction to this article was just a smile back then. I had forgotten all about this article but when I have dug it out of the archives at this point in life, its even more resounding.
"The ganpati immersion in Pune is a adrenaline junkie's delight...... Just for an experiment go into the city and listen to the drums.....slowly you'll feel yourself drawn into the beats, like a swimmer caught in the undercurrent of a giant wave.....you will see yourself moving to the waves of the crescendo and slowly the beats are not outside, they are within you..... the more I see it around me, the more I am convinced that the cosmic mystery of being is encapsulated in Rhythm & Music..... The heart, the breath, everything beats in a rhythmic tune.......the only thing that travels unquestioned between Indian and Pakistani borders is music..... Napolean said, "let me write an anthem for a nation and I will decide its morality"...... As a saint said, "A man who sings, prays twice."
I could never agree more! And yes, you have to witness a ganpati procession to truly experience the magic. There are waves of drummers beating their dhols in unison. There are young girls in white kurtas and turbans in the band too. Its sheer adrenaline.
There were many more of these kinds and each time they made impressions. Of course, even my own age was impressionable that time. Every feeling, every emotion, every reaction is amplified when you are crossing over to the 20s. The only quality thats required in an idea to attract you is 'Novelty'.
Years later, one evening sitting in this typical youngsters' hangout called Toons, I walked over to the bar to get another drink. A gal and a guy on the stools got into an animated conversation. The guy said, "yeah used to write part time, just for fun."
"Cuhmon!! writing in TOI is not small time writing! What did you write, were you a reporter?"
"Nothing much, I wrote a daily column in Pune Times, no big deal."
"Really! Whats your name again? Lemme see if I've read you?"
"Ravi.... Ravi Rajeev"
I turned around. Right in front of me was Ravi Rajeev. Its weird to meet someone you have pictured in your imagination already. A genie who is just black ink to you, suddenly turns into flesh and blood. The admiration that comes out so freely for that person in his absence, maybe because of that absence, suddenly becomes a confused reaction for a second. Nevertheless, I stole him from that chic and brought him to our table; introduced him to another friend of my who loved his work too. Toons is a tiny place so you are inadvertently drawn into everybody's conversation. Somebody in the next table liked him too. And then the word went around as to what the buzz was about. Quite a few came up to him and shook hands!
He turned out to be quite a guy. The one thing about writing is it never betrays the writer in reflecting his true self, no matter what he writes about. He doesn't write now, I couldn't even find a blog in fact. But even if the people who met him that evening were the only ones whose thoughts he must have stirred, it still must have done something in his heart. I wonder what.
That evening, he didn't ask, he didn't expect and didn't need those hand-shakes. Nor were they relevant to him anymore. But if there is undiluted pristine joy, this must have been it.