And then I take a dip into the eternal wonder of mankind. Do ‘I’ get dissolved, dismissed at death? Just like my memory cells, my genes?
‘Na hanyate hanyamaane sharire*’, says God, and asks the smoky ‘me’ rising from my pyre –‘So, what did you do with your life, my friend?’
‘Well, I studied, made a career, had a nice warm family, made some really nice friends, performed my roles kind-of satisfactorily, you see!’
God: ‘And is that what you were sent for?’
Me: ‘You never specified something else!’
God: ‘Huh! Don’t frustrate me, you!’
Me: ‘Uh! I felt insignificant, Lord… powerless. What could I do?’
God: ‘Shooh! And I had placed you in world’s top 5% privileged lot!’
I give my habitual blank and confused look to God.
God: ‘Fine! 50 rebirths as chicken to adorn the pizzas of the IT youth! Howz that?’
Sportingly, I try to take it – ‘Your wish, my command! I’ll be nice to my butchers and co-chicken, Lord!’
And God looks at me with disgust!
And then, He looks away from me. Standing at the dark, desolate sea beach, the visibly disturbed Immortal fixes His gaze at the incessant waves. A strange desperation makes them froth and rush. They lash at the shores – the waters, and seethe as they recede back. I stand silent- freed of cells, molecules, clocks. I stand transparent to the moist sea breeze and the faint star light, unsure of the future, the past and myself. The sea writhes in pain. Why does it?
‘An obscene world you have created for yourselves. Never sensed so?’ – asks God.
I remember the words of Sugata, a friend of my bygone entity – ‘Kemon jeno nijer ichhe onichher toyakka nijerai na kore ekta goddalika probahe ga bhashiye diye bheshe cholechhi. Jedike niye jay shedike cholechhi. Nodir jole bhese chola patay boshe thaka piprer mato. Dal ruti pele dal ruti khachhi ar pizza pele pizza.’ [We are just letting ourselves go with the flow without bothering about what we want. Drifting with the current aimlessly, just like an ant that sits on the leaf floating on a river. Feeding on pizza if we can afford to, and on dal-roti (common Indian meal) if we can’t].
‘Your generation – who inherit apartments from your parents, what do you do with the youth, the health, the affluence I bestow upon you, when a grossly neglected Earth afflicted with every possible form of imbalance cries out for a minimal attention?’ – God asks.
‘We do not sit idle, God. We hardly have time. ’, I say, somewhat defensively, somewhat uncertainly. It’s true enough that our generation, especially the IT/private sector crew, is too tied up. Seasons pass, and so do years – and we fail to notice. And one certain Arghya Lahiri wakes up with a start one day - ‘To think of Antara –that our next generation is already arriving, and our previous generation has begun to leave. When did life take such a leap?’
‘So list out what you call your challenges Antara. List out what you guys live for throughout your span’, He stonily commands now, forcing me through a rather difficult tunnel of contemplation. And as I grope through the leaves of numerous chapters of my life, searching for an answer, I stumble upon the pages where my closest friends have put their signatures. What is the common factor between almost all of these pages?
‘Relationships and relationship issues. Small nuclear families we grow up in, God. We grow up vulnerable. We crave for ‘the one’ who will put our claustrophobic lives in balance. And see how fragile our world is. An A is in love with a B, and a B yearns for a C who may not love him back, D’s family won’t accept E, and an F and a G, who were once a dream couple, are constantly pushing each other for a higher share of importance.’
God interrupts - ‘At one point of time, things will settle down for many, perhaps, and some will learn to compromise. Five-ten years down the line, some will realize that the word _love_ has ceased to make any sense between them, and will focus on mastering family politics and subtle power equations, while a few will retain warmth. Ten more years, and you will find some bragging about the achievements of their children, and some pushing their offsprings harder. One more decade, a few will be content with the care these offspring show for them, and others will have a cold world to live in. And then, one day, they’ll all die. Am I right, Antara?’
Me: ‘I guess you are, God. But there are other factors as well – a multitude of them!’
God: ‘The issue is that, none of you is bothered to look out of your window. You laugh and cry, live and die within your well. He, who has no daily bread, curses his fate. He, who has no cherry on his cake, laments as well. He, who has his cake and cherry intact, runs for his pudding. With what care I had created this world! And with what carelessness you devour its resources - with little concern for collective growth, or prolonged sustenance!’
Yep. Our intelligentsia focuses more on technologies to achieve higher bandwidth mobile video streaming rather than the roots of Maoist terrorism in India. Could restructuring of the sociopolitical machinery in favor of collective growth also have been a popular and well-approved subject of pursuit for our brightest brains?
God: ‘Relationships, ambitions, affordability – enough to constitute your self-worth. Responsibilities towards the _outer_ world are no where there in the picture. And why so? Whose responsibility is it to restore balance – between your superfluous Shoppers’ Stop-Domino’s-Adlabs crowd, and your household servants who hesitate to visit a doctor when they fall sick, lest they are diagnosed with an unaffordable health issue?’
The God is in pain; I see it in His eyes. The human race is still in its immature, ungrateful, self-indulgent teenage, I suddenly feel. We are yet neither aware nor bothered about our bigger role in the world, and every now and then, we’ll bawl out in complaint as to why we shouldn’t have the best of everything. We refuse to grow up to our senses and take charge.
The question startles me.
God is smiling is a strange way now. Why is He? He asks again, ‘So? Want your life back Mademoiselle?’
I shirk His gaze in unease, and look at the tumultuous waves ahead.
Some questions hold a restrained volcano in them – lava of possibilities. Some questions, once uttered, never let things be the same again. Which shy young teenager, skirt_and_ponytail, ever lives in peace when the sprouting¬_beard_and_broken_voice she admired so very secretly, pops up a love-proposal, and she doesn’t know if she’s ready yet? Bad comparison, I guess.
The question is, even if I take my life back, can I make any difference at all! And Bingo! That’s the exact super- life-saver question that has helped us all escape time and again!
Hummmm…. I confront His eyes now. This time, there’s no escape.
‘So?’ [ By Antara Kundu ]
*‘Na hanyate hanyamaane sharire’ : Consciousness is eternal - it is not vanquished with the destruction of the temporary body
Pieces of mind:
“It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.” –Albert Einstein
“What I really lack is to be clear in my mind what I am to do, not what I am to know, except in so far as a certain knowledge must precede every action. The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do: the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die. ... I certainly do not deny that I still recognize an imperative of knowledge and that through it one can work upon men, but it must be taken up into my life, and that is what I now recognize as the most important thing.”
—Søren Kierkegaard, a 19th century Danish philosopher, posthumously regarded as the father of existentialism
A Twitter conversation
[In light of Kierkegaard's quote] To all my followers:
1) What, as per you, makes your life meaningful?
2) What do you actually wish (if not plan to) to do with your life?
3) Any planning yet? Any implementation yet?
1) Life itself is good enough for making it meaningful to me, a life is a magnificent creation in itself, so big, so wonderful and so precious, especially when it touches other lives as well.. The meaning of my life - is to live and marvel at the wonders which are before me, grasp them and understand them. I believe if there's a meaning, it will eventually come to me.
2) I wish to live my life to the fullest, if it can touch and make other lives happy, I go and use it that way, I learn, I know.. No small goals, no true use comes until you have lived up all your life, it's only at the end you know what use it had!
3) No planning, because I live :)
My ability to think deeply makes my life meaningful. Whatever else I may be doing, I really want to express my thoughts in the form of writing. Well I still don't have any planning.
“I want to be useful” – Ernesto Che Guevara, The Motorcycle Diaries
“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. “ - John Wooden, They Call Me Coach