18/365: Encouragement. Doubts. Hope.

Posted: January 18, 2011 in Lit., Quotes
Tags: , , , , , ,

Today is yet another day when I’m not going to stick strictly to the topic shared on the Daily Post blogWhat gives you hope? And what, if anything, makes you question hope? And what makes you question your questions of hope?

This poem, by Rabindranath Thakur, has rekindled hope in me for as long as I’ve known it.

Where the mind is without fear, and the head is held high.
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where worlds come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is lead forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

I’ve remembered it, on most days, by heart since I was a 8 year old. And I still go back to it, occasionally, when the current affairs depress me too much.

On a personal note, another short quip that has encouraged at times is this:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But you have promises to keep,
And miles to go before you sleep.
If you feel tired, sit on a rock.
Open your shoes and smell your socks.

Of course I had read, and liked, the original Robert Frost one long before this came around. Yet, this – the slightly modified version – is what has inspired me time and again. Of course it also reminds me how my socks use to stink after every evening on the basketball court. And it brings back fond memories of the friend who had jotted these lines down on my scrap book at our class 10th farewell party.

What else gives me hope is – people. Ordinary people, living ordinary lives, yet hoping for and working towards a better future. The goodness within these people, and their respect for who they are and what others are. How these ordinary people have managed to create and maintain a working, civil society despite the many burdens of history, religion, castes and money. These ordinary people, specially the ones with smiles on their faces and a twinkle in their eyes, give me hope.

One event that’s making me question hope right now is what is happening in my old neighbourhood – PakLand. How did a people who were no different from us ~60 years back come to such a state? How did the hatred-spewing extremists who struggle to break out of the fringes in our society, come to rule the streets there? Seeing how quickly a generation brought up on an extremist religious education and a sense of historical injustice can turn a moderate civil society into such a center of religious prejudice and extremist thought, gives me shivers. Seeing how quickly a city like Lahore, for long the most liberal place in the subcontinent, celebrates the murderer of its liberal governor, causes alarm. Above all, it scares me to know that a similar turn for the worse could have, and still can, happened in India too. I’m afraid not of religion but of those who pretend to be its caretakers.

So there, another post punched out. Still not happy. I think I need to take a complete break from the suggested topics when I don’t feel like them. Till then, I’ll just be happy with the fact that I’ve now posted 18 days in a row.


P.S.: People. Not the kind of people who I studied with and went to work with – the high flying, high earning, high-on-ego, masters of the world, MBAs. But the other people – the common folk. The ones who do not judge me on my every word and try to trip me on my every action. The ones who do not live their lives on the sole principles of RG & a bell-curve. People like the neighbourhood paan-wala who happily paid off the auto driver when I realised I didn’t have any cash. People like my friend, the ironing guy who’d discuss everything from his wife’s illness to my cycling, including criticising my choice of routes, and had big hopes for his young kids. Or the shack workers who warned off drunk lechers who approached partner on the beach while I was in water. And the fast-ageing young maid we had who worked impossible hours to earn for her sick mother and brother’s family, and who slept like a child on our kitchen floor because she’d barely gotten any sleep at home. That dad, who despite countless setbacks – both personal & professional – taught his kids to trust and respect the human nature. The rickshaw puller who despite a heated argument over fares before starting, rushes around to put up the canopy before the rider could even feel the drizzle. The cab driver who argues over money every visit yet never fails to show up every time someone has to be picked up from the airport 140 kms away. And then lets me sleep all the way to home/airport, without once worrying about my safety, my baggage or the route. The friends back home who supported me with kind words, hugs, beer and Mondy’s fried prawns after every rejection mail and every disappointing interview. The fella who offered the use of his car to help us move houses despite never having met before, just on the recommendation of a few friends from back home. The uncle who offered me the use of his computer when he realised I was applying to b-schools but had no computer to work it out on. The fella who escorted partner on his bike while she caught up with me. The host who happily offered a hose and cleaning advice rather than frowning upon the dirt all over our bodies post a ride in the rain. Too many good people. Too many fond memories :)

  1. Ms.N says:

    I love the post-script. I guess you never really know who are those who touch your heart and who won’t. I sometimes wonder if we have left a more simpler life in trying to “scale” greater heights (at lease we think we are)… but life is complicated with all its different flavors i think – doesnt matter what are the boundaries within which we live in. not sure if this makes a lot of sense, just a thought.

    and yes… cant get my mind to focus on work at the moment.

    • raven says:

      I get what you’re trying to say. I’ve been trying to turn the clock back. I wish there was some way of un-doing an MBA and going back to being a simple grad in a simple job with a simple life. Just the way things were when I was happiest. This push for faster, higher, stronger, richer has only made me less happier and less satisfied with the life I have now. I’m not sure anymore who’s more jealous – the guy walking by when he sees me driving on that Jazz or I upon seeing him carelessly spend his evening roaming the neighbourhood without much care in the world.

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