Saturday, February 14, 2009

Negating self

Humility was considered a great virtue  a few decades ago, particularly in India .The more scholarly one was, the greater the humility. Greatest of painters , sculptors and writers left no signatures behind on their works.They vied for no public acclaim. They attained excellence  not for  winning any competitions but for their  sheer love of art. Obsessed as we are with rat race today, many of us may find it difficult to comprehend this.
Infact in  ancient Kerala, convention was to refer to oneself either by name or by substituting "ei ullavan' (meaning' this being') but never to say "I" . Pronouns like 'Me, Mine, or I denoted egoism
and humility made people substitute third person pronouns instead of  first person pronouns. It makes me wonder, sorry,  It makes Radha wonder how people understood each other !

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The clay and the potter

'Donot take pride in your power", says the clay to the potter as he shapes it to create a form to his liking. 
"One day things will change. I will be kneading you instead', 
Indeed the clay will knead the potter  to dust upon his death - so sang  Kabirdas , the sage poet to give us the simple message of evanescent nature of life.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Voicing Wishes

 My school teacher once asked me" If you could have a wish granted , what would you wish for? I thought it was the easiest question to answer. Goodies to eat,  beautiful dresses to wear, a flawless complexion, long dark tresses-- infact the list was endless! 
Now with greying years, I increasingly realise how tough it is to answer this question. Not because a plethora of choices renders decision making difficult. But for the simple reason that we donot know what is good for us . And because we fail to take other related variables into consideration. For instance, if we were to  seek gratification by wishing for a good feast, it would be easy to get. But , If we were to lose our appetite for some physiological reason, or have  a nagging worry, or be in a situation which does not permit freedom to eat at our discretion, of what use is this feast then?
Similarly, a somewhat dreadful vision conjures up before me-- Wishing for  the company of a loved one forever.Think, just think, what might happen if he/ she stopped loving you and you were forced to go along with this person all because of your own "wishing" 
. A thought  might occur here to you . You might modify that wish to have' his loving company forever'. But  what if your own heart underwent a change ? The possibilities are endless. So it is wiser to leave it all to a Higher Wisdom and not wish for anything. With many such confused experiences, I  stopped making wishes long ago.

Eat less,live more.

Aandi was a thin shrunken old man well past into his eighties when I first met him in my new home in Calicut after my marriage. I was  22 years young with an enormous appetite at any time of the day. Infact I believed that food was the best part of life's purpose.
Aandi was a trusted old worker who had served the household well over 60 years and now been superannuated However he was required to make his appearance everyday as my father -in- law was unable to do without Aandi's chit- chat. Aandi was his local "Google' who was a  repository  of a great deal of useful information like copra prices,  folk remedies,  local gossip etc. What is more, he could predict rain looking at the clouds above!To ensure his regular visits, father in law 'ordered ' Aandi to avail of his retirement  benefit package which included a free lunch  at  noon ; siesta on the wooden bench in the courtyard;  to be followed by tea at 3.p.m.I was  also officially  informed that I was allotted the duty of serving food and tea to Aandi. It did not exactly thrill me to start on my duties , but his word was law and how  dare a new daughter in law voice her dislike?

On the appointed day and time, Aandi , true to his word,was seated hunched over a piece of fresh green banana leaf spread in front of him , waiting for his meal, on the far end of the large verandah making my walk from the kitchen longer. As I neared him, balancing a mound of steaming rice on a plate  and a container holding sambar and ladle for serving, He grinned revealing a toothless mouth gesturing  for restrained serving. He ate very little food   perhaps enough only for 3 peckings.I tried to encourage him to eat by offering another helping but he 'd have none of it. This went on next day too and to me it seemed a waste of time for Aandi to walk 1 km from his home only to nibble at a frugal bit of rice. This time I insisted he eat more, but with a firm gesture he cut me short. Then , he told me the secret. God had preordained the quantity of food to be consumed by every one of us in our lifetime. It was upto us to stretch it over a longer period thus lengthening the life span or devour it faster and make quick exit.Please donot shorten my stay here , he urged. That really struck me hard. And every time thereafter I checked myself when taking second helpings!  
A week ago, a health magazine reported  that research in a prestigious international institute had shown that frugal eaters lived longer and healthier. But Our  illiterate Aandi had preached it decades ago in simpler but striking manner.His message had been indeed highly digestible!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

let us talk

Hello everyone,
The world is vast but life is short. 
To make the best of the  limited available time let us reach out to as many persons as possible - 
 to listen , to share, to amuse , to ponder, to discuss, to heal, to console,  to care,to energise and to  simply make  life seem  better for everyone. It  is the gift of the technology (thanks to its inventors) that is making this possible . So let us reach out  as far and wide as possible .
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Thoughts and Voices by Radha Iyer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.