Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mrig-trishna hai yeh duniya zamana humne jaana..

This guy's been in my class for five years now and he used to be in my anatomy discussion group in first year. I think he's from Rajasthan. He once told me he'd studied in a Hindi medium school in Alwar (geography textbooks say the district has mica reserves and a tiger sanctuary) and I havent really talked with him much more than that. He's a very quiet unassuming sort of a guy, with thick glasses and a soft voice, hardly forthcoming about personal information let alone heartfelt emotion. He's on my facebook friend list and it was his birthday today so I showed up on his profile to wish him a happy birthday. I saw a note he'd written on the occasion of his 22nd birthday, a note he'd dedicated to his parents. In it he writes in very simple words that he left his home to study elsewhere when he was just 15 and he's only been back for a few months every year since then and on his 22nd birthday, he wanted to thank his parents for their unwavering support and for all their waiting for him to come back home.

He writes so simply but it reads like he really, really feels the distance that has separated him from them for so many years. I was wondering at how I wud never even have guessed these vast reserves of emotion underneath the placid surface of his stoic face.

It reminded me of Mohit's post about the online self and how the people we know may be very different from the people as they appear online. Which led me to the question of how well we can ever know anyone else, even our closest compatriots, our dearest family.

Even if we were to know about every single thought that ever went through their heads, we'd still be far away from knowing their true selves. I wonder how close we come to even understanding our own selves. Martin Scorsese said in an interview that once riding on the subway in New York, he realised that he will never know all these other people around him, and he began to wonder if he'll ever learn about anyone at all, becoz the way people appear to us is often an amalgamation of our somewhat-skewed perception and their own representation, which may not be very close to the truth. In that sense, we are all isolated, alone, islands in the sea.

Bhagwan sir passed away yesterday morning and I read his obituary in the paper today. He'd taught us English in the 8th, 9th and 10th standards and we all loved him.

He was one of those people who firmly believed that children cud never be wrong about anything. It was always grownups who got things wrong. Children deserved to be encouraged and appreciated and admired. And he did all of that for each one of us.

He proclaimed my tentative attempts at poetry to be among the greatest things he'd ever read. I really believed he was telling the truth back then, and I still do now.

The last time I saw him was on Teachers' Day in 2007 and he told me he was very proud that I wud be a doctor some day and I'd promised to tell him when I received my degree. I never made the time to go back to school after that and in my mind, I think I believed he'd always be there so I cud choose to go as and when I wanted.

Now, the fact that I'll never speak to him again is sinking in and I wish I'd had a chance to speak with him one last time. He died suddenly of cardiorespiratory arrest and he'd never been sick. It's almost surreal, this loss of a benevolent, beloved presence in my life. A void, an empty space. Tomorrow morning, we shall all attend the prayer meeting at his house. I'm sure there'll be hundreds of people there, his students from over thirty years of teaching, and I hope that talking about him will comfort this feeling of unease and sadness that I am trying to wrestle away.

The worst part is that I always believed that he'd always be there. That's what I think about my parents, too.

We dont wonder about the mortality of those who're older than us, who look after us, who protect and nurture us. We think they're powerful immortals who can fix everything. It is only when our worlds begin to expand and their power starts to recede that they turn into ordinary, extremely fragile human beings, regular people who refuse to deal with the looming prospect of an oncoming death, deluding themselves into living all our short lives entirely in the ever-vanishing present.

And that makes them infinitely precious.

We may never completely know anyone, including our own self. But I am certain that we can completely love them. And that is still a great gift.


S. Susan Deborah said...

Yes, we can completely love people and even us. That is indeed the greatest gift. How well you describe life, death, love and being alive. I can read and reread this post a zillion times.

Joy always,

Unknown said...

[I'm restraining myself from complimenting you further because I think that it's a redundant exercise. We've known each other long enough that I presume you're aware of how highly I regard, respect and admire you.]

"We may never completely know anyone, including our own self. But I am certain that we can completely love them. And that is still a great gift."

There is something infinitely special about those words, Karishma. Really. And that's not because it's something novel. In fact, reading it, I felt like beholding a "beautiful" reflection of my own thoughts. Let me just say that you've poured out your heart so - well, the usual expression - 'poignantly'. :)

And death. Quite often, I get the feeling that one of the reasons that render life some worth, is death. The full stop makes the sentence meaningful. [Don't you see? Death looms large in my writings.] :)

And let me quote this great dialogue from 'Troy' -

"I'll tell you a secret. Something they don't teach you in your temple. The Gods envy us. They envy us because we're mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we're doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again."

TC. :)

Unknown said...

By the way, please translate "Mrig-trishna hai yeh duniya zamana humne jaana..." for me! :D

Tangled up in blue... said...

Susan, thank you for that warm comment. :) I can read several of your posts a zillion times over and I often do! :)

Tangled up in blue... said...

Rohith, many thanks, my friend! :) I remember that line from Troy rather vividly and not least becoz Brad Pitt was mouthing it wearing a Greek skirt. :D I agree with you. Its brevity makes life more beautiful, in its spirit and exuberance. :)

And about the line. It's from the song Yeh Pal from the movie No One Killed Jessica. The idea behind the line is that of a deer in the desert, the deer is thirsty and desires a drink of water. It is fooled by a common desert mirage of a pool of water in the distance and so, chases after it to assuage its thirst. But of course, the water is not real. The desire for water is never fulfilled.

Mrig-trishna from Sanskrit is the thirst of the deer, never satisfied by what is only an illusion.

In the line, this refers to "duniya zamana" or the world. "humne jaana" means "I have learned".

Paraphrasing it, the meaning is something like, I have now learned that this world is an illusion.

Tangled up in blue... said...

Of course, that doesn't carry the beauty of the original line, but that's what it means.

Also, look at this poem.

It produces another meaning from the same phrase and roots it in yet another mythology including a certain illusory deer. :) In this case, the word Mrig Trishna means to desire the deer instead of the deer's desire.

Let me know what you think.

T. said...

i have a feeling that poem was written in hindi first i remember reading something like it.

this post talks abt so many things cookie. abt death n u never having met ur teacher again let me tell u dont feel guilty im sure he will know n see how successful ull one day become. :-)

as for people let me tell u i am exactly the way i appear to be. if ull just look closely. :-P ;-)

Tangled up in blue... said...

Tawf, I have a feeling you've unwittingly said something really profound in the last bit of your comment. :P :D

T. said...

why unwittingly? always the note of disbelief :-P

R said...

I like the comments thread as much as I like your post. Don't feel guilty, you're only human. But learn, oh yeah learn. And love completely :)

Tangled up in blue... said...

Riddhi, thank you! :) And I always try. :) And yes, the comment section has turned out rather well this time.

Srishti said...

'It reminded me of Mohit's post about the online self and how the people we know may be very different from the people as they are online. Which led me to the question of how well we can ever know anyone else, even our closest compatriots, our dearest family.'

You know what TUIB? Thats exactly the same thing I think about Psychology! I mean, in Psychology, there is no rule that is universally applicable, okay, so the best you can do is apply it generally. And so that makes me think, the only person we will ever understand and know completely is ourself! Just. No matter how close someone else is, we may never know them fully. That's the thing that makes psychology so vague! And Biology is quite the opposite I think, or maybe you can tell me better?

Being islands, alone in the sea, is a SCARY SCARY thought! But even if we're all alone, even in that, aren't we together?

Haha, ab toh thoda zyaa ho gaya, nai? :D
Lovely post! :)

Tangled up in blue... said...

Srishti! This comments section is absolutely delightful! We are all together in the sense that we are all individually alone! That's a beautiful thought yaar! :)

And Biology is still an imperfect science becoz even if you know everything about a human being say, their body temperature, their blood pressure, their rbc, wbc count, and a hundred million other little details we still cant predict how their body might react to a disease process or a particular type of medication.

In that sense we come back to general principles that are applied to everyone, but may not necessarily applicable.

Thanks for the comment again. :)

Sunil Balani said...

Enjoyed reading your post.
A human being is a complex dynamic system and the core reason for complexity is the presence of heart besides the mind. Emotions play a vital role in human life and emotions and perceptions are always subjective . Robots act on instructions while human decisions always have emotional binding and I truly thank nature for that.I agree with you that it is so difficult to know and understand others when many a times we do not even understand our own self.

Mohit said...

If we are to try our hardest to get to know anyone, we'd probably be most successful with our own selves. The earliest philosophers used to believe that it is obvious that you'd know every single thought of yours. But then, even that's not "true" really, is it? Beyond a point, you start doubting the idea of "knowing someone well" altogether...

JD said...

As with so many of your posts before this, TUIB, any comment would only dampen the raw emotions that your post exudes.

There is so much about life, death and being that we never think of, and we never will. Musicians may write libraries full of music about it, but so many things remain unanswered.

Which makes the whole idea of "life" so much cooler :)

Sakshi said...

Yes, these are the people, who are supposed to be always there. Without any conditions attached!

I hope you remember me. I found you again and blogrolled you!

Tangled up in blue... said...

Sunil, thank you for your comment. And as for robots, I wonder how much longer it will be before someone creates a robot that can replicate the way our own minds work, if ever. Now, that's a sci-fi movie I'd watch. :)

Mohit, I agree. I wonder how much of our thinking we consciously take note of. Not all, I'm certain. Then, there's the cauldron of the subconscious that bubbles over into dreams, and I don't even remember a lot of mine. There's those like Jung and Freud who've wondered what our dreams tell us about ourselves, and that's quite an intriguing question in itself.

Tangled up in blue... said...

JD, :) Thanks. It wud be boring to have all the answers tho. There'd be nothing left to make music about then. Personally, I think our minds are designed to comprehend only a substantial amount of information about the observable world. Not more. Then, there's things that we can't observe and perhaps, some things we cannot conceive of. Maybe the rabbit hole goes a really really long way down. :)

Tangled up in blue... said...

Sakshi, it's incredible to find you again! :) Welcome to my new blog! :D

Sunil Balani said...

Replicating of human mind does not seem to be all the great problem with the advancements in the artificial intelligence and neural networks. I wonder if science can make a robot whose decisions are influenced by emotions and perceptions . It is the heart mind combination that is the problem....

Tangled up in blue... said...

Oh yes, that wud be most intriguing! :)

Ramya said...

I think this is my favourite post on your blog so far. I've often wondered about this - a lot of my really close friends don't read my blog, and complete strangers have access to this side of me - another me altogether.

And yes, summing up all these different sides of a person amounts only to our own perception. The smallest (and greatest) thing to do is love completely.. you put it all just oh-so-perfectly!

Tangled up in blue... said...

Ramya, thank you. :) I feel similarly about your blog and the things you see and say and write about on it.

A lot of my close friends don't read my blog either, but I really prefer it that way. It feels comforting to have different people to express myself differently with. I cant really explain it any better than that. :) It does feel like there's another me here somehow.

Antara said...

Sometimes I wonder if you should have been a philosopher instead of a doctor, for your posts make more sense than a whole world put together.

Vivere said...

I don't believe we can ever know ourselves or others for that matter 'coz life is ever changing. And so are we with experiences.

Change is the rule of nature.

Abt love? well can't say!:D

( nice blog. we meet yet again...and yeah,good post!)