Back to the Basics

Continued from “Goring Syndrome”

“When Anand came to console me, Ruma’s relatives had a scare,” he continued with apparent sadness. “Afraid of my passing on the Imperial crown to him, they even moved the courts, but when he turned down my offer even as they withdrew their plaint, I began to brood over their greed; and as a couple of Rajan’s relatives too called on me with their lawyers, I felt as if I was face to face with the ugliness of wealth. Ruma’s people at least had the good sense to take her back into their fold, rather made their way into hers, but none of Rajan’s relatives had the grace to pay their last respects to him; well it was then that I made up my mind to deny them all.”

He paused for a while with a smirk on his face apparently relishing his idea.

‘But still I had no idea as to what to do with all that liquid cash and for a cue, I began mingling with the common folk,” he said on resumption. “Once in a city bus, the man in the front seat gave me his place, and inexplicably it occurred to me that given a chance, the same man may be no less greedy to grab all my money. As I began brooding over my supposition, I could divine that innate goodness and inherent greed are the obverse and reverse of the human nature and that wealth tends to abet the latter at least in the weak minds. Why for that matter, poverty, the product of social debilities and human constraints, is no less an evil that affects man’s ethos as money does; and as for nouveau riche, they tend to imagine that since they have the reins of wealth, they have a reign over the world of wisdom. Now as I speak to you, my irrationality, first in the accumulation of wealth and then in the destruction of it is seemingly coming to the fore; if only I had not lost my sense of balance in either case.”

“What to make out of your state of mind.”

“If only man has the hindsight of a Spanish bull, his life would’ve been a lot better,” he said. “You know, after its tussle with the matador, if let out, the mauled beast becomes wiser to his ways with the green herring, should they find themselves in the ring again, they wouldn’t be fooled any longer, and so as to avert the threat these creatures pose to the matadors they are slaughtered after the spectacle is over. Life is not as unkind to the self-introspecting man as it is to a self-reflecting bull for it lends him the scope to contain the damages the vagaries of his habit occasions; but still, save a Gary Sobers, who said he never committed the same mistake twice, man fails to benefit from the let-offs of fate, and that only proves that man is more adept at thwarting the perils without but not at averting the banes within.”

“Now that you’ve the makings of a swami…”

“You want me to acquire the trappings of an asharam to make it big in the global business of pseudo spiritualism,” he interjected with a smile. “Well I’ll be going to the village where swamis of the daywouldn’t ever venture though the yogis of yore all lived in the jungles. I shalltry to help the peasants to educate their kids; by the way what else serves the mankind better than educating the children of the underprivileged? It’s the educated children that make aware fathers to perpetuate cultured generations, and the more they are, the better it is for the world. Oh, why it didn’t occur to me before I destroyed all that money? If only we learn from nature; won’t all trees brave the vagaries of weather to bear their fruits to serve the species? But ravaged by the vicissitudes of life, how I had lost the opportunity to bestow the bounty to the needy; even otherwise, man is inexorably distancing himself more and more from the nature by dwelling in excuse me for the well-worn phrase, the concrete jungles.”

“I too have to share the blame for I only talked about charity and not empowerment.”

“Why worry over the spilt milk any way,” he said. “I’ll play my part in my village with what is left of my money; besides as life there is vitiated by caste prejudices and beset by religious superstitions, I shall try to open the village minds to rational thinking. But as a novelist, I see a bigger role for you on the rural stage for I feel there is a need for novels that enable the villagers to contemplate about their human condition. While the current fiction in the urban setting would seem another world for them to identify with, the novels set in the rural background don’t help them either for they are meant to showcase the village life for the urban world. If only you come and stay in my village for a while, you might conceive a novel or two that might make a difference to scores of village folks.”

“Why not, won’t I have your insights for inputs?”

“Before that, if you think it’s worth the trouble and helps the urban public, you may as well write about my life and times,” he said. “If what I hear about the publishing world is true, then all your effort might come to naught, but still, if you’re passionate about it, and are prepared to face the ordeal that getting published is, then go ahead forthwith for why deny the benefits of contemplating over my misled life for those who might die before I cease? If ever my memoir makes a difference to one person, then I can see some purpose in my meaningless life and should it find a place in the best-seller charts, well, who knows which books get there, all the better it is for you. But were you to fail to find a backer, let not frustration rule your head for strange are the ways of the publishing world, in deed the course of life in the world at large. That there could be many facets of life which defy its normality of character I had only realized from that Satish-Sarala episode; how strange that men and women should visualize a comfort zone for the fulfillment of their sexual fantasies with total strangers rather than with their intimate friends, and that’s one of the many imponderables of life. Maybe, had the poor guy swapped his spouse with one of his friend’s wife, it wouldn’t have been a swap for nope as it turned out for him, but then its nature that prevails. Well, now that I have left my past to you for its future care, let me nurse what is left of its future as best as I can.”

When I began to pen his plight in the plot of his life, he went with his mother to live in the village where it all began, and as I scripted his tale, having read it, he expressed the hope that in the glaring shadow of his life others would have a proper perspective of theirs.

Dedicated to, Sekhu, my elder boy, for his literary course correction of this 'stream of consciousness' work to which I had lent some of my life and times.


More by :  BS Murthy

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