Not when your life’s work is complete,
That of your soul is.
Not when your life’s work is complete,
That of your soul is.
Is not for the weak,
Or the meek,
But for those made of teak
And looking to scale the peak.
Is for those who seek.
Most look to rise high in life.
And some, to go deep.
If you are lucky, you have experienced love (love, not a crush) once in your life. If really lucky, you’ve perhaps experienced it twice or even thrice. For that, perhaps you need to have lived longer. But if you are really, really lucky – no, fortunate – you’ve experienced great love. All its tumult, all its turmoil, all its tension, all its torture, all its terror, in short, all its tsunamis. And it is a tsunami, or multiple. It gets into you, seizes you, holds you captive, fills your being. And in the process, brings out a tsunami of tears too. For you typically don’t get your great love. That’s why it’s called great: it’s something beyond your bearing. (And also other people’s understanding.) Still, you are better for it. Although you were worse for it when you were in it.
But can there be something greater than great love? Is that possible? Is even just that thought possible? As I said, perhaps it is. If you are the deeply romantic sort – and the highly lucky sort. As it is greater than great love, it also happens in a realm that’s beyond yours: the spiritual, the metaphysical, the sufi sort, and although I don’t believe in religion and just a bit in god, perhaps the divine sort. The closest I can think of is the kind that Meera felt for her lord. But given that both those are pretty much myths, this kind of love is perhaps of mythical proportions too. Because it’s about how a great life should be led, how great a life it could be, how great you could become (for yourself) in this greater-than-great love…
So, what do you call this love that is greater than great love? What else but… great life? And that can only be explained by experiencing it.
I have never had a role model. And for a long time, if only for a bit, that would weigh me down. Especially when I would see others happily citing everyone from Gandhi to Branson to Chopra (both Deepak and Priyanka). I used to wonder if something was amiss in my personality development by not having some big footsteps to follow.
The closest I have come though has been Boman Irani. Mainly because he “made it” “quite late”. (At 44, my present age. And I trust I am still “struggling”.) Boman comes across as a nice and genuine chap, with no airs. I even used to follow him on FB, and found his shares the most sincere of the few celebs I would follow. He even liked a comment of mine on his very cute grandson. But I eventually unfollowed him. While I wasn’t looking at him as a role model, somewhere, this celebrity follow thing doesn’t work for me. No offence, Boman. Although if I were to catch him in person now (I did see him during the launch of his first Bollywood movie, Ram Madhvani’s Let’s Talk, back in 2002), I could still go schoolgirl-blush on him. Yup, he’s cool.
I eventually figured it out. When you are as individualistic and hatke (unconventional) as I am, you can’t have a role model. You are your own model, and perhaps for other individualistic and unconventional folk too. So, I started feeling easy about this don’t have a role model thing, and started allowing myself to just be myself.
And then, Guru Dutt happened.
When I started watching his movies in this intense discovery phase of mine, I could identify with the “tortured creative soul” he was, and not just in his movies. (GD is one of those few artistes, if not the only one, who put out a lot of himself, along with his world view, in his movies.) It was easy: I am a tortured creative soul myself.
And as I started and finished watching all his movies (directed, produced, acted) and started and am on the way to finishing all books on him, I began feeling more and more of a kinship with him. The same feelings of humanism toward the world, the same feelings of not being accurately understood by others, the same desire to be and remain a purist – or as I say, a truist (all themes in the glorious Pyaasa), the same desire to be uncompromising (brought out to a brutal extent in Kaagaz ke Phool), and the same anguish that comes from having these attitudes and making the choices that go with these.
Somewhere, across the time-space continuum, across the close to 10 years between his death and my birth, across the over 50 years after he passed away that I discovered him, getting to “get” him only through the written word (others’) and created visuals (his), I find that he could be the closest person I could come to be emulating. (I have been telling my friends that GD’s spirit, or a part of it, like the horcruxes in Harry Potter, has entered mine, perhaps explaining my newly acquired obsession of him.)
Of course, highly individualistic as I am, and no matter how immense I find GD, I could never want to become a clone of him. So, maybe not role model, but perhaps, and given that he is no more in the earthly realm, a… soul model?
Charlie Brown can’t fly a kite.
He destroys the new neighbour’s (the red-haired girl) fence the day she is moving in.
He doesn’t get to perform his act at the school talent show as everyone else before him (he is the last in line) has taken up too much time. To make things worse, his sister, who precedes him, can’t get her act going. (He comes to her rescue, taking on the costume of the cow. The act’s a success, and so’s his sister, but not he.)
He leaves his book report till the last weekend, then decides to read ‘War and Peace’ (the same one by Leo Tolstoy), manages to finish it over the weekend (how?), manages to write a decent report (after one botched attempt), and then sees it sliced to smithereens by the still-loose model plane.
And when things seem to be turning around for him – he gets a perfect score in the test and becomes an overnight star – at the award ceremony, on receiving his paper and realizing it’s not his (in a mix-up during submission, he had written his name on the wrong sheet), he decides to own up. Much to everyone’s disappointment. Or maybe, expectation?
Seriously, Charlie Brown just can’t seem to get anything right.
So, when his name is picked up from the bowl for who’d want to be his summer pen-pal, why, when the rest of the class ignores him, does the red-haired girl, the girl of his kiddie dreams and sighs, choose him?
Charlie Brown wants to know this badly, and makes a dash for the bus – the girl is going to leave on it for the summer. He finally manages to fly the kite, or rather, the kite flies him. And reaches just when she puts her foot on the bus stoop.
“Why?” He quizzes her. “Why did you choose an insecure, wishy-washy failure?” (Have never before heard any words that depict a state of mind so perfectly.)
Her reply is sweet and simple. “I don’t see all that… I see someone who’s brave (brave enough to own up in front of the entire school)… Someone who’s compassionate (compassionate enough to forego his chance and help out his sister)…”
And Charlie Brown is sighing again.
Life should be a Peanuts’ movie.
The conundrum of listening to the head or heart…
Is actually resolved quite easily –
When you come to understand that…
With the one, you gain initially, but with the other, you win eventually.