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Sunday, April 27, 2014

shudhu asha jawa, or aller et venir continuel

I teach very serious things very seriously from day one of my classes with every batch: by personal example, as much as is within my power. I also tell them ‘Tomorrow never comes’, and ‘You can take a horse to the water but you cannot make it drink’. Because I know that despite my most earnest efforts, most people will learn little of what I try to teach, or forget all too soon, and therefore never benefit from what they learnt here for the rest of their lives, even actually abuse me simply because they never learnt even a little bit of what I tried to teach, simply because I was just being what I always clearly told them I was, and proud to be.

The value of time, for instance, and never procrastinating. The importance of being clean, courteous and articulate in your thought and speech. How much little details matter, even details of spelling and grammar. The value of laughter, and how to distinguish clean, good, healthy laughter from the all-too-common gutter variety. How utterly crucial it is to become your own man/woman, and how incredibly hard it is, how easy to think that you are like that! How bad it is to jeer at others’ faults and follies, when you have come to learn and you are full of them yourself. How great a sickness gossip is, and soulless socializing simply because you are afraid to be alone with yourself, and want to be constantly reassured that the world is full of people quite as trivial as you are. How utterly evil it is to lie, even if one thinks that one is doing it just for fun. How love is the most used and abused word in the world, how cruel it is to say ‘I love you’ to someone again and again, and then turn around sometime later – a week or a year – to say ‘I only wanted a simple friendship’, or to drop out of his or her life completely without so much as a by your leave. ‘Don’t do it,’ I tell my children as they grow up, ‘don’t add to all the badness and baseness there already is in the world. Don’t pretend to be deeper than you are. You cannot keep it up for any length of time. And they forget.

Also, the number and variety of people who come over for counsel, and tell me so much of their private joys and woes – though they hardly know me from Adam, and would be scandalized if I ever talked about what they tell me – makes me wonder, too. What do they seek in me? Just a shoulder to lean upon for a while, somewhere to unburden themselves, a sympathetic and non-judgmental listener? If that is indeed true, such listeners must be rare indeed, and the need for them great, for they keep coming, and some hang around for years, and even assure me they are grateful that I was there for them, people in the teens and seventies, men and women, ‘smart’ and not so; people who have suffered devastation and people who love to make mountains out of molehills. Like Mr. Chips dozing by the fireside in his dotage, the names and faces pass through my mind in an endless fading pageant… Some are even thoughtful and humane enough to wonder aloud how I find so much time for them, and why I care. So many gladly offer to pay. And sooner or later they all go away, either because they don’t like me any more (that happens gradually with some and very suddenly and unexpectedly with others), or they no longer have any need for me.

Put yourself imaginatively in my shoes. Why do you think I still keep at it? And what is likely to be my opinion of the mass of mankind by now, including and especially those who have this opinion of themselves that they are good human beings? 


Tanmoy said...

Dear Suvro da
I read your post only to re-read it couple of times more. I am not sure whether in my lifetime I would see someone like yourself who is diligent, idealistic and positive about the work he/she does. To me it requires exemplary courage to flow against the tide, succeed and most importantly raise a beautiful family. Suvroda, you define the term “teacher” and the world would have been a better place if more people believed in teaching the way you do. I am privileged to know you. In lot of ways, you continue to shape the way I see things and attend to my responsibilities.
I am sorry that, I could not find satisfactory answers to the questions you posed. Whilst I know your reservations about how the mass mankind live their life, but Suvroda I believe in some corner of your heart you have a wealth of optimism and that is why you keep going.
Suvroda, in any case my best wishes are always there for you, Boudi and Pupu. I wish good health and happiness to you.
Kind regards

Rajarshi said...

Dear Sir,

A really thoughtful post, indeed. These lines really touched a chord in me.

"How utterly crucial it is to become your own man/woman, and how incredibly hard it is, how easy to think that you are like that!"

Your weariness is understandable but I think it is to do with the inherent beauty of your spirit which keeps you continue doing what you do.

These days, I am reading Apsley Cherry-Garrard's "The Worst Journey in the World", a narrative of Scott's last fateful expedition to the South Pole (1910-1913). And what shines through the pages and what Cherry too writes about the unselfishness of his comrades is this beauty of spirit and courage which kept them going, which prevented them from succumbing to their baser instincts while enduring some of the most incredible hardships one can think of.

With Best Wishes,

Abhishek Anand said...

Respected Sir,

With every passing day since I became an ex-student of yours, I am realizing more and more vividly how important the things you tried to teach us were(especially now that I am in a new school). Besides the things you have already mentioned, I have also realized how you were 'intensely patriotic in a very old-fashioned sentimental way' and tried to pass the same thing onto us.

" The importance of being clean, courteous and articulate in your thought and speech"- it took me some time to realize and begin to practise this. It tried to tell some of my friends the same thing, but they readily dismissed the idea as 'old and rusty in this age'. This made me realize how difficult and thankless a job it is and that you must have done really well to carry it on for so many years.

I know you to be a person who always tries his best to complete the things which he beings with. You know that you are doing the right thing and thus continue with it. Perhaps, that could be one reason why you 'still keep at it'. All I can say to conclude is that you do a lot of selfless and thankless work in this regard and there is a lot that I can learn from it.

Yours faithfully,
Abhishek Anand

sayantika said...

Dear Sir,

I am sorry for this very late comment and also for not commenting on your blog for a long time. A few incidents showed me how fortunate I am to be your student and to have imbibed (I hope I have) even a small part of what you have taught us. I was smiling in secret delight when a person who had bad-mouthed Sir earlier without even knowing him was frantically searching for ways to put his child in Sir's tutelage. And another person who did the same earlier was full of praises for Sir recently. I was amazed to see their hypocrisy. Then another ex-student who seems to have suddenly remembered Sir (only for some need though, just as Sir so aptly says about many of his ex-students) and laments that Sir would not even recognize her again. I was shocked to know that she had not bothered to keep in touch at now and now remembers you just because she needs you for some help. All these point out to the 'badness and baseness of the world' that you have mentioned here, and I hope I hope I have learnt at least this much so as not to hurt anyone with lies and also to follow your ideals of not wasting time and effort in trivial stuff. Thank you Sir.

With regards,