I badly need a haircut, and no one in the household is up to it. Can any old boy do it for me?
Is Tom Cruise really dating his 22-year old personal assistant? Why the outraged denials? – Natural when looks and glamour and money are all working for you, so why shouldn’t he?
Just watched Boyhood the movie. Very well made, and extraordinary doesn’t begin to describe what the director and cast have achieved – following the growth of the same pair of children over a period of twelve years. Made me sad, too, watching how badly parental disharmony and discord hurts kids; how bad the worship of individual self-fulfilment can become if pushed too far (especially because ‘free’ people don’t do much with their lives anyway). I have always thought that very few people ought to be licensed to have children at all: that would solve a great many very serious problems at one stroke. And it feels good that I am neither a politician nor a celebrity on TV, so I can voice my honest opinions in public. The denouement made me sigh, of course, because I too have an empty nest now, though my family, and especially my daughter, are still far closer in the real sense that most people can dream of: I know adults who have told me they would ‘die’ if they had to live with their native families in their native place for a month. Oh, and for the umpteenth time: I cannot but wince to see how so much of the contemporary world has become so casually foul-mouthed. Just one of my tics, I guess. Watch the movie and tell me what you felt. I wonder more strongly than ever what kind of parents today’s youngsters – those in the 20-30 age group, given the way they have grown up – are going to make. Or are they going to leave all the caring and mentoring to the grandparents, in a throwback to older mores?
I got excited when they took away the walker and after the first physiotherapy session worked well, so I tried walking around (just inside the house, of course) without the crutches, and the pain came back. I am being much more careful now. But with the crutches I can do quite a bit, even venture to the local marketplace. And Pupu and an old girl worked wonders for my morale, the first by telling me that I look like Dr. House in the eponymous TV series, the latter by saying that the crutch gives me more character – not that I had been feeling I am much in need of that! And alas, it will be quite some time still before I can even drive a four-wheeler, leave alone the scooter. But I can travel to Calcutta in my own car within another month if things don’t go awry, that much I have been assured.
One thing about being handicapped for a prolonged period – you have to be careful not only to avoid succumbing to depression but not to become self-obsessed. No greater blessing than to have a fixed daily work routine. It also makes one think about a lot of things. How so many ordinary people matter in your lives: and I am not talking merely of family, to whom we often attach a bloated and quite undeserved importance. How important it is to practice charity at home. How useful it is to count your blessings. How to differentiate between those who really care and those who do not. How one might best cope with a future when one may never be as fit and ‘normal’ as one used to be (such as that I might never climb hills or walk fast for long distances again). How good it is to find real pleasure in the happiness of others. What a treasure children are, if you can attract their love. How wise it is never to expect anything from anyone in the long run. How more caution can save you from getting hurt in a lot of ways.
So I have been re-thinking the question of charity. I think I am going to go with ‘charity begins at home’, and set out on a systematic program of helping out people in need – specifically people who have helped me out in times of distress and helplessness. There are so many people who touch our lives in so many humble yet essential ways whom are too little valued. Even your cook and maid and the grocer who makes home deliveries when you are indisposed. And these are as a rule proud people, so you have to work hard to find out what they need, and when.
The season is beautiful, with occasional bursts of glorious sunshine alternating with long spells of rain. Making a virtue of necessity, I am sitting outdoors for hours in the daytime, helping the sun to speed up the process of synthesizing vitamin D which is good for the healing of my bones, and I thank God for being lucky enough to find so much time to admire the gorgeousness of the world around me: the azure of the sky, the play of the clouds, the lush rainwashed greenery all around, the profusion of flowers, the busy activity of squirrels and birds and butterflies in my garden… I can’t have enough of ‘standing and staring’. Sometimes it feels as though it was really worthwhile breaking a leg. How sad it is to be a busy man, really.
Rajdeep of the 1994 batch and Chitra of the 2000 batch visited recently. Thank you to both. It was good to see you after a long time. Chitra, as I told you, one reason I dislike female visitors is that they by and large have no conversation – do keep that in mind and I am sure both of us will enjoy your next visit even more. And keep in touch, both.
My daughter has already found a kind of happiness in college that she never got in school except during the very early years, touch wood. I have been pestering her to write about her entire school life. This is a reminder again, Pupu! And may your working life be even better…
In passing: I have got some truly gratifying reviews of To My Daughter. I only wish more people who have read it would get in touch with me. Or at least tell me why they can’t/won’t comment.