As I had myself predicted, the last two months have gone off at a breathless pace – but in a peaceful and orderly and most satisfying way. After a few welcome showers of rain, it is now the turn for horribly muggy weather, though the evenings are sometimes breezy. But my week-long mid-year break is about to begin, so that is something to look forward to. I shall be pushing off to Delhi tomorrow, via the spanking new airport that has come up in our town. Let us see what the experience is like. I hope, of course, that everything will go smoothly enough for it to be a pleasure, because I intend to use the service frequently through the coming year. If I am not in Durgapur, I shall very likely be in Delhi. My daughter’s undergraduate career is just about to end, and a new phase of both her life and mine seems to be beginning…
Children’s sense of time is indeed a very different thing from how adults feel about it. Looking back upon the days of my childhood and early youth, the years seemed to have moved so slowly, and they are so densely packed with memories, not many of them very nice. Since I returned to Durgapur and got into harness, three decades have, in comparsion, eventful though they were, gone in a flash. And I thank God a zillion times that I am still – at least till the moment of writing – fit and fresh enough to anticipate more good things to come. Who knows but ‘the best is yet to be’?
I notice that in a recent post, Sorry to be late, I have mentioned God three times in a short essay. It was not accidental. In retrospect – and I can do that much better than most people, my memories still being so abundant and sharp – it has been just God and me (if you don’t like God, call it Providence, karma, fate, chance or what you will); people haven’t really mattered, except as and when I have let them matter, by carrying them in my mind much longer than was necessary. I know everybody’s life does not work out the same way, but you may keep that in mind as one person’s lesson from life. Even in India, where family, relatives and ‘society’ are supposed to matter a great deal, they don’t, really, unless you let them. I hope some readers will know this is directed at them, and take heart from it. Unless you very truly, deeply, lastingly care for some people (and that can be at most only a handful, else you are pretending to yourself, which is a sin), don’t let them ruffle you or shove you out of your own orbit. It is your life, really. Nobody is yours unless she or he actually and often, if not always shares your enjoyment and stands beside you in your pain, suffering and loneliness over a very long stretch of time, so don’t give anyone too much of yourself. I am saying this with authority. I hope I have at long last learnt to do it myself, for that way alone lies serenity and real self-possession.
There is much that is wrong with this country, and I have often thought and written about all that, but today it seems to me that Nirad Chaudhuri was right in his diagnosis in The Continent of Circe, as I read Shashi Tharoor repeating – quoting his father in his recent book Why I am a Hindu – ‘remember that India is not only the world’s largest democracy, it is also the world’s largest hypocrisy’. That covers virtually the whole of our upper and middle classes. You will be safe if you remember that for the typical Indian, everything is coin for immediate transactions and passing gratifications, even what they call love and respect. Be safe. Don’t get needlessly hurt.