Sunday, September 09, 2012

Creator’s Silence

     It was a pleasant morning in the Jungle. Thick canopy of trees covered the whole area. Beyond the forest, there was a rivulet on the banks of which a cluster of thatched huts looked like moles in the green body of the jungle.  Valmiki, the great poet finished his morning ablutions and came out of his thatched hut in the jungle. He looked at the trees at the entrance as if expecting someone. Birds were chirping, squirrels were running on the branches of the trees. The cacophony of sound made by birds, animals and insects was so loud that nothing else was audible.  Morning Sun was rising in the east. His red and yellow rays coming through the trees and bushes were radiating warmth in the cool ambience of the place. Dew drops on the leaves of grass were shining in the sunlight that would swallow them in a matter of minutes without trace.  This was their offering to the Sun God, who gives everything on earth. Dew drops could show within them, though only for a few minutes, the mighty Sun that was so big and powerful. Like the Child Krishna, who showed the Universe in his mouth.  

     It was a peaceful place, suitable for educating pupil without any outside disturbances or distractions. Only male students were attending the Gurukul. Valmiki had sent his disciples on a tour of begging, to the villages and towns nearby.  The cereals and raw materials collected would then be cooked for the Rishi and his disciples staying at the Ashram for education. This was the custom passed on from generations of Gurus. This is part of practicing simple life. Begging makes a man humble and erases his vanity. Valmiki and his disciples lived by the grace of god and patronage of the people of the villages nearby.

     Valmiki had chosen this ascetic life when he was very young. Born in tribal community, he grew up as an illiterate boy. Though he had a few material things, he was free and happy with what he had.  He knew everything about the jungle, animals, plants and seasons. Once a seeker of knowledge came and stayed in the jungle for meditation. Valmiki remembered his name, Narada. He did meditation for many years. Taking pity on Narada, meditating for such a long time without food, people helped him to survive in the jungle as is their wont. On completing the meditation Narada was very happy that he had acquired what he had sought. He also felt obliged to the people of the jungle and Valmiki who had served him well. Observing that Valmiki was curious beyond his age and very intelligent, he taught him alphabets and inspired him to record his knowledge on the jungle, plants and animals and the tribal customs, songs and stories. Valmiki was exceptional. After teaching Valmiki some literature and grammer, Narada left the place. He knew that Valmiki would be one of his best students and blessed him for achieving excellence. Only in his laters years Valmiki realized that he had been a student of Narada, the veena bearing great worshipper of Vishnu.

     Valmiki was learned scholar, but still a tribal at heart. He wanted things to be simple. He took the food cooked for his students.  His only goal was attaining more Knowledge and more wisdom and for attaining his goals he was ready to sacrifice anything. He was respected by kings and emperors and worshipped by his disciples and ordinary folks.

     Once Prince Rama visited him and requested him if he could have the fortune of his counsel in the affairs of the state and that Valmiki’s knowledge and education, intelligence and wisdom might not flower fully in the jungle. He would be happy if he had to handle many challenges in running the affairs of the state. He assured Valmiki that he would be given exalted position in the Durbar.

     But Valmiki refused his offer. He said “I would be drawn into the worldly affairs and pleasures and would forget my goal. Wisdom and Knowledge come from studying and observing and that it is all hard work. It is not a boon granted by Gods. Poverty and not plenty, provides the inspiration for thirst for knowledge. Wealth compels the people to enjoy the pleasures of life and to forget the reality of life. I would continue to live in this jungle for myself and for the sake of my students. Gaining and spreading knowledge are the vocations I had chosen for this life. Kings and elite could avail of the services of many wise and intelligent men. There are wise men who exchange their knowledge for money and power. Those intelligent men who enjoy good life could only remain with the kings and advise them. I am not one of them.  Knowledge is an ornament in the chest of the rich and powerful, but a weapon in the hands of seeker who establishes new paths of knowledge.  I want to educate those who could not otherwise get educated. They would be seekers of knowledge. If I involve myself in running the country, I would be surrounded by self-seekers and those who have ambitions of power and money.  If you want to do something for me, please arrange to build huts for myself and my students”. The hutments in the jungle were built with the money and material provided by the Prince Rama.   

     The king had sanctioned annual grant of money and material for the maintenance of the Ashram. But the expenditure on the students and seekers of knowledge arriving in the ashram far exceeded the grants given by Rama and Valmiki was not the person who begged the kings. He could beg before people of the nearby towns who for him could do anything. He belonged to them.
    Over the years, Valmiki had heard about emperor Rama and his glorious rule in the country. Every sage, citizen and even enemies were praising and appreciating the good work he had been doing. Valmiki could not believe that such a ruler could exist and enforce his dharma. He had the opinion that future generations would hardly believe that such an emperor ever existed on this earth.  Valmiki was inspired by the merciful Lord of the Rama Rajya. Spontaneously he started composing story of the emperor in verses.  It was as if a spring of poetry has suddenly burst and filled his existence and an epic was born. It was an epic born of a love of the hero. It was to show that ordinary human beings trapped in the worldly affairs could achieve greatness. It is not necessary to renource the world.

     Since hero of his epic was still alive, he had to foresee the events that would happen in the life and times of Rama. He had started the epic and incorporated the events that had happened and he went on narrating the story as it happened and he could foresee the events that would happen. He had completed the epic inspite of the fact that events narrated in the epic had not happened till he finished the epic. He had initially reckoned that the epic could be finished within a few years. It had become his all consuming passion. It took away the best years of his life. Now he was 90 years old, but was very healthy and satisfied. His students reported that every educated person in the society had read some part of the epic or heard it being recited with reverence. However, even Valmiki could not have prepared himself for the event which challenged his understanding of the life. It was a woman whom he considered as the epitome of virtue, who threw the challenge.

     On a day he was exhausted and was taking rest. He had a strange premonition that something  was amiss. As he had reached such an advanced age when nothing other than death mattered, he did not bother to find out what it was. If he had desired, he would have found out as to what was coming as he had the potence to know past, present and future.   However he decided to confront the reality as it came. He knew that challenge lies in not knowing the future and still facing it as a surprise rather than knowing everything that would come and then shaping it as per his convenience. There was no thrill in it.  

     There was a call at the entrance of the Ashram. Someone has turned up in the middle of the day and called him. It was an odd hour for someone to visit him, between noon and evening. At first he ignored that call presuming that to be a delusion. But the he heard calls three more times and he had to get up. The sun’s rays were turning yellowish and the shadows of the hut and the trees were growing longer and longer. Even his pet animals, Deers, Cows and Dogs were quiet.  He slowly walked with the support of his stick and crossed the front space to the open the wooden gates. The visitors were cultured; they waited for him to open the gates. He could see a woman and two young boys standing in front of the gate. They were not from the nearby places.  The woman looked very tired and he guessed that they were exhausted because of the long journey. Their soft cotton dresses indicated that they were from a rich family and their distress showed in their faces. Dishelved hair of the woman and the agony in her face seemed inappropriate to the beautiful face.

     They fell at his feet and and cried. Valmiki softly told them to get up and once they did, he embraced them like a father. The woman sobbed like a small girl. After few minutes he asked them who they were. She told him in very low tones that she was Sita, Rama’s wife. He could not recognize them. His memory was failing. She again reminded that she was the wife of emperor Rama of his epic and the two boys were her sons. Valmiki hesitated for a moment and thought whether this could be real or he was in the middle of a bad dream. But Sita said again “Sir, I am Sita, wife of Rama, cohart of the great Rama of the epic Ramayana that you created. You created an epic from our life, your epic in turn has created our life. Our life has become miserable. Only you can save and protect us”.  Valmiki still failed to understand as to what she was talking. Women in distress could be speaking in clear terms and men, even Valmiki could not understand. There was an invisible screen that separates their understanding of life.   He was shocked. His guests were royals and they had come to him in this condition. He welcomed them into his hutments. He noticed that in the middle of such a pain there was some relief in Sita’s eyes.

      He asked them “Did you mean to say that you have come all the way from Ayodhya without any escorts?”

     Sita replied “Yes we have travelled alone, in Carts. In many stretches we had to walk. My sons are the only escorts and defendents. I have them for protection and they have only me for their love and care. We do not understand that what fate has in store for us. It might not be good anymore. My god, my husband has failed me. You had the prescience about the events in our life and incorporated it in your epic. Could you not foresee this? If you have, please tell me what have we done to deserve this? Also guide us to do the right thing. My husband, the virutuous, had to thorw me out not only from the palace but also the country.”
     He consoled them that he would take of their life and would educate the boys further. “You are my daughter and you would get anything you want here. Don’t worry about anything. I am here. Your boys can join the others in this Ashram and they can study further. Relax and take rest for you have travelled a long distance from your home. Were there not robbers, animals on the way? You should not have come alone. It took me a while to recognize you. Robbers and animals would not know that you were from a royal family”. His words calmed Sita a bit. She thought that there was no difference between a royal family and others in treating women of their households. There was nothing royal about their suffering.

     Valmiki knew that Sita’s sorrow was caused by unnecessary doubts and gossip. But why was Rama carried away by these? He could not think about Rama in such a low esteem. Probably Sita had not informed the King where they were heading. But why the king had not taken care of them or sent some escorts. He could not understand.

     The sage was not convinced that the epic he had composed with the blessing of god could be changed by him now when the events have gone beyond his power.  He felt very sad that Rama had done this to them. He had portrayed him as a paragon of virtue and She an example for generations of women. Is it the fate of future women too? He said “You look tired and harassed, mentally and physically. You take rest at the hut. I would arrange something for your food. We will talk in the morning”.

     Sita, on finding that there was no one in the place told him amid tears that she would take care of cooking and he should show the kitchen for her to prepare food. Valmiki said “If you are hungry prepare food and eat and then take rest. Give me something. Let us talk about your life in the morning. I would take care of you and relieve you of your suffering. This is my promise”. He could not visualize Rama’s life without Sita. Had his creativity failed?  

     Sita and her sons had a hearty meal after many days and felt as if they were staying at her father’s place.  They felt very relieved at the hospitality extended by Valmiki. She was living in grief like a fish in the water. She did not know how to get out of it. It was clear that her reputation had been spoiled irreparably and there was no way of redeeming it. After being banished by Rama, no one would hear her.  It would be her word against the words and reputation of the greatest king, Rama. How could she tell the saint that Rama had doubted her loyalty and virtue and told her to leave him and Ayodhya. This order was passed purportedly in order to save the reputation of the King. She wondered if rumours could shake the emperor and his reputation. If mere presence in Ravana’s palace garden waiting for Rama to rescue her could create this doubt and end in such a sentence, what about Rama who was enticed and liked by many woman in Ayodhya and other places?

     Instead of doubting her, he could have poisoned all of them silently without anyone knowing. That would have been more honourable.  Nobody could have questioned the affairs of the emperor. She had to be humiliated in public in order to retain unblemished glory of the king.  He had done this to a woman who suffered in waiting for years in the Garden of Ashokavan, within the fortress of Ravan’s palace.  Sita could not sleep properly from the day King conveyed this through his emissaries. She even doubted whether king had actually passed the orders. He refused to meet her. There was a wall made of falsehood, reputation, politics and subjugation. Why only she should be held responsible for what has happened.

      She had started her journey in search of Valmiki who had created her in the epic.  At the least he would save her reputation. She watched her sons in the middle of the night. They were pretending as if they were sleeping. They were worried about their mother. She tried to go out of the hut in the night. Both the boys got up and called her ”Oh mother, where are you going?”. She, without answering, returned to her bed. Three of them could not sleep for the rest of the night. On the morning, Lava asked his mother “Have you lost hope, mother? You had told us that Rishi Valmiki would be our savior. Why could not we wait to hear what the sage says? We could think of the next step after discussing with him”. Sita did not reply. Tears flowed from her eyes. She could tell her owes only to someone elder to her in age. Lava and Kusa were brought up as children of the king. They did not know the world and its ways. Even she knew only Rama and he ditched her.    

     Kusa, asked his mother “You said that this was the author of our story, Ramayan. How could Ramayan be our story? It was about our father. We had all but small roles to play in the Epic. There are thosands of characters who had contributed to the greatness of the emperor and his achievements. We cannot claim sole credit for it. Why Mother, you were created? Is it only to bring glory to the emperor? Were we few of the bricks that built the great reputation of Rama? Having built the reputation, there is no need for us and now that we have been reduced to this, would not this affect the edifice?”

     Lava, said ”Emperor Rama, for now that I do not consider him our father, could not have achieved many things without the contribution of many people. Even as we were not solely responsible for his achievements, had we not played our role? When he could patronize and reward the squirrels that helped him build the bridge to Lanka and even the people who, remaining within the palace, had started the rumours about our mother, could he not tolerate our presence in the capital. Exile is more dishonourable than the punishment of death. Whole of the country would be talking about our sin and shame.” They had been discussing this endlessly for many days. They could not be consoled by any reasoning.

     Though, Valmiki was in a separate hut and not listening to their conversations, he could not sleep. He thought about Sita’s fate and the lives of Lava and Kusa. The greatest agony for a wife is husband’s doubt about her loyalty and chastity. At this age he could not recall exact verses or words in which he had described the lives of Rama or his family. Had he done some serious injustice to them? Were there some poison seeds in the character of Rama that he missed them or was it the public opinion. Having renounced the throne once for the sake of his father’s words, couldn’t he do anything for his wife in the face of spreading canards?  He had ended the Ramayana with coronation of Rama. How was it that an event illogical to the spirit of the epic ruin the beauty of life of his characters. Had he in his enthusiasm for telling the story of Rama, forgotten to mention human frailities? If whatever he had composed had become true, could he revise the epic after the lapse of more than twenty years? Would this revision of his epic affect their real life? These were some of the questions that bothered him whole night. Even Valmiki was a human being. He was worried. At this age he had become so weak that he could not even think properly.

     Lava and Kusa were surprised that this great sage and a very humble, learned poet, wise and sympathetic to them, had never thought of anything bad about Rama. They were innocent. Why was the king bent upon punishing them? Could anything that began as a virtue end in such vitriol? If he knew that all that had happened to them would happen, why did not he prevent them from happening? Or why in the first place he should create in his epic such endless suffering for a Lady who was goodness personified?. Was it all simple for the sake of literature? Or Is he the God whose decision, irrespective of reason,  is final? If he can create life out of his literature, surely he must have been the most powerful of the Gods.

     Sita and her sons were satisfied that they had come to the right place. But they were not sure that he would solve all their problems. Perhaps he could re-create situations in the epic in order to make them happy. The changes in real life would definitely follow. While God created them, it was he who essayed their lives. If only he could consider revising the epic and their life, everything could be as in heaven.  They did not know that revising an epic composed by a poet at the height of his creative trance, when all his wisdom and knowledge about the world, Men and women and their characters and his perspective on life, was at work, is not so easy.  The epic was written with his life and blood, virtually. But even though he composed the epic on their life, it is their life which is at stake? Is he not answerable to the fate of his characters Or to the fate of the human beings that are real?

     Valmiki, wondered whether he could revise the epic to accommodate the Sita’s desires and resolve her problems.  How and when he could compose the end of the story of Rama and Sita? He knew that Sita underwent an ordeal of fire to prove her innocence. Still doubts had persisted. Might be that Rama was convinced but he did it for others so that his kingdom could be saved? Is it his throne? Is it a throne of betrayal?  A king whose wife was kidnapped and kept in prison by Ravan and who waged a war and rescued her, killing Ravan, could exile his wife for staying in the very place where she had been kept as prisoner?  Then why did her rescue her? Is it for establishing his courage?. He forgot to think about Lakshman and others.

     Valmiki woke up in the morning.  Sita was missing. Lava and Kusa were searching her and crying. He could not do anything. He saw one of his characters vanish into thin air.




Thursday, August 09, 2012

Chapter 4

     As he grew up, M’s interest in studies waned and his passion for things other than academics increased. The authoritarian commands of the teachers and tyranny of the syllabus had made his education a miserable burden that had to be thrown away at the first opportunity.  Fortunately, none prodded him to perform well in studies for there was no one to care for him.  The boys who excelled in studies did it on their own. When he answered many questions by the history teacher in 9th class, the teacher called him ‘History man’. He had finished reading Tamil, History and Geography books within the few days of obtaining the copies of the books. But he hated even to think anything remotely connected with arithmetic.
     His science teacher quoted from Kamban’s Ramayanam,  the verse describing in many soft sounding words, the beautiful women in disguise Takakai, who tried to seduce Raman (of the Ramayana).      He wanted to read such literature. But teachers would sincerely teach topics in the text books and only some teachers mentioned about other books and literature. He found Ramayanam a bit boring. He could not relate to the incidents nor the royal ways that looked so alien and unreal. Kamban’s poetry was the attraction and not the Ramayanam.   

     It was a practice in the school that whenever, it took time for the teacher to arrive for the class, one of the boys had to read aloud from “My experiements with Truth’. From sixth class to ninth class they had heard every line in the book many times over. He had unconsciously been imbibed with the details of Mahatma Gandhi’s struggle both in his personal life and in politics in South Africa and in India. Gandhi could unhesitatingly, reveal every thought and M felt shameful that he could not do so. His resolutions for speaking truth could only be fulfilled in dreams and not in reality. He identified himself with Gandhi for his handwriting was bad there was nothing else in common. Like Gandhi, he also did not try to improve his handwriting.
    When his science teacher in ninth class asked how many of the boys had read about journey of Kon-tiki, a boat, a norwegean explorer used for crossing pacific ocean in a small traditional boat and reached Polenesian Islands, he held his head high. He had read the book and liked the adventure. First time in his life someone appreciated what he had done. It was not related to academics.  Science teacer looked handsome, taught science very pleasantly and quoted from Tamil literature often and this impressed M a lot. M tried to copy his walks and looks. It was this teacher, Mr. V who imbibed an interest in Literature and Science.
    Mr.V also resided with the boys in the Hostel. He had a very small room which he shared with a Tamil teacher, Mr.L who was also a good teacher. But two good teachers are not necessarily equipped deal with adolescence, as he realized later.

     Mr. V also taught English for 9th class. He was very particular about his student’s handwriting practice. Everyday every student has to write at least one page. He would check the notebooks of the students at random and punish severely the students who failed to write at least one page. One day, during morning study hour (after morning prayers and before break-fast at 8).  M was pretending to read a text book. He had to do this everyday. He observed that most of the boys’ attention during the 45 minutes study hour was on things other than studies for it was a pleasant time that cannot only be wasted only in textbooks. Teachers on duty ensured that there was absolute silence, an inducement to sleeping. Boys kept incense sticks burning to ward of mosquitos.
     M, one day during study hour was worried whether the grape juice he had kept 10 days ago in a metal tumbler would become wine, as happened in the stories of Sindbad. Though he was tempted to open and see he decided not to open the lid of the glass for the next 20 days.  His scientific research was interrupted by his fellow student, K tapped his shoulder and said that teacher, Mr. V called him immediately. K’s mischievous smile was an ominous sign. He could not guess the reason, for he was not one of the favourites of the teachers. K was close to Mr.L and did many errands for him. The way K shook his head further terrified M. But he could not anticipate what was coming.

     When M entered his room Mr.V did not notice him. But another teacher, Mr. L welcomed him with a sarcastic smile by which he tried to suppres his anger which was visible on his face. He showed a handwriting practice note and asked him whether it was his. Before M could finish saying ‘Yes’,  Mr. L asked him “Whom you have written this letter to?” and showed him a letter  written in pencil. M had written this letter to an imaginary Love. But even if he had posted that letter, he was sure, nothing would have happened. The letter not dropped in the post box, an object of sin, became the invitation for god’s wrath. God questioned him through teacher.  Before he could answer, Mr.L slapped on his left cheek. It was so hard and painful that M’s head whirred and he stumbled for a while. When he regained his posture, Mr.L questioned him “Is there any girl?. He said “No” and it was a half-lie. Telling half-lies would make things bad.   Mr.V then said “I left this job to Mr.L. You could not bear my slap” He stated this with the relish of a prison guard speaking to a man released after his jail term. It was true Mr.V was tall and sturdy. M left the room in tears in his eyes and red imprints of Mr. L’s right hand on his left cheek.
   He later recalled that he had kept this confidential letter, written in Tamil in Roman alphabet inside the empty notebook for maintaining it secret and submitted it instead of similar notebook, by mistake. Name of the girl was real and she came in his day-dreams. He hardly knew her. She was a girl of his age, a neighbor in his hometown, not privy to his confidential dreams.  For years, he dreamed about many girls but never had the courage to give even a hint of his dreams to those whom he dreamed about. His dreams, if recorded on paper, were confined to flames, or if in his mind, died an unnatural death by aphyxiation.
     Boys asked him the reasons for the tears in his eyes and imprints of fingers on the cheek.  He could have announced his achievement like a knight proudly if his love was real or if he had posted the letter and faced any tragic consequence. He could not shamefully declare that he was a coward who expressed his love in dreams and enjoyed the bliss. He remained quiet.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

     Chapter 3

     Mahatma Gandhi had inaugurated the boarding school in 1934 when he was on a visit to Coimbatore. Mr.A, who founded the school, was a Gandhian, in thoughts, words and in deeds. M had almost seen him everyday. Founder’s residence occupied the central place in the campus.  He was a bachelor with frugal habits. He wore only white Khadi clothes, a full-sleeved kurtha (called Jibba,  in Tamil and a Dhothi (called vaetti).  M saw him doing vigorous morning walks on the school grounds. He was more than 60 years of age. There was a special soft glow in his skin. In the evenings, he sat in a bamboo chair in the sandy square listening in very low volume to the News in his tiny transistor (of foreign make, – of course a gift from someone). M was surprisied at the low volume, for M, a thirteen year old boy, sitting in front, could not properly hear the voice. Mr.A used an old broad-bodied Chevrolet car of the sixties, presumably presented by some one, whom he could not refuse, for it was the only thing in his life that was not in conformity with his simple life-style.

     On one side of the square in front of the Buddha statue, there was this grey granite-stone building with its high ceiling that looked grand. On the ground floor, one of the rooms was occupied by the founder; another room at the other end was a sick room. One more room in between these rooms was the class room for 9th Standard. Boys in the 9th Std were required to attend to Mr.A when he rang the bell for them very rarely.  On the first floor was the Prayer Hall. Mr.A had used his enormous personal wealth and contributions from many others for the fourteen institutions that the school started with one Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi after the morning prayers held at Six in the morning. He knew Ramakrishna and Vivekananda through one of the disciples of Vivekananda, Shri Shivananda. He spoke intimately about Mahatma Gandhi with whom he had travelled at lot. He was passionate about all the three great men. He was inspired by them. M had on many occasions talked to him, heard him speak to the audience, about the opportunity we have, in this life, to serve the poor and the needy. He wanted each of the students to aspire for excelling in any of their chosen fields and told them that they have enormous potential to achieve great things in life and that they were born for this.  M had seen, observed and interacted with this great man for nearly six years, albeit from a distance. M was moved to tears whenever he heard about Mahatma Gandhi. Only after he grew up, M could realize that Mr.A’s life and words had influenced him in many ways than he could perceive. Mahatma Gandhi’s words had also trickled through Mr.A to him.
     Many years later, M read the autobiography of another Gandhian freedom fighter, Mr.Y, who had described and justified that Mr. A, then a Congress candidate for election in the district, was an ass in that he would carry out his responsibilities entrusted to him dutifully and faithfully. On that day, M decided that he would also become an Ass for it would be an honour to be an Ass like Mr.A, who was a symbol of sacrifice and hardwork.
    M had to get up at Five thirty in the morning, take bath and had to rush to the prayer hall by six. Mornings in the place were very cold for him. He had come from a hot climate. It was difficult for him to take bath in the cold water. Many smart boys occupied the water-taps in which water flow was better. M did not and could not compete with them. He had neither the inclination nor the strength for enterring into altercations with the other boys of his age. He always wanted to avoid fights. He could not also mouth epithets others so easily used.  He was weak and slow in doing everything. As if he was numbed by the circumstances. 

     On Sunday mornings, many boys were busy doing their routine chores like washing clothes. M had a lot of work. Nothing seemed very interesting. He was doing many things simply for the sake of it. He hated washing his dresses.  He could not know or tell why he hated it. He had made up all kinds of excuses like that he had no  detergent soap, had no money for buying soap or that he could do it later. Most of the times he had no money even for a haircut and there were other attractions like eatables. Even if he had asked for it, his parents could not send money immediately. None of the teachers or teacher-in-charge of his class ever asked him about the reasons. They also never spoke to him about his family. He was hesitant to initiate a conversation.  One of the teachers, Mr. Govindasamy, commented many times that his shirt was not very clean and asked why he did not use blue for the white shirts? He also called M the ugly queen-2. M swallowed the insults. After all insults did not harm him physically and those insulting were neither the Rishis and nor their words turn true once mouthed.  There was nobody to whom he could relate to emotionally.   He always felt that there was a lump in his throat that stopped him from speaking his mind.  In all those six years he never had more than three sets of trousers and shirts. It was a luxury to dream of more shirts or trousers. Many times he had to borrow shirts used by his class mates the previous day. They also resented this as the  shirts got dirtier next day and that increased their work. He almost never had a comb and borrowed it most of the time. He also never applied oil to his hair and missed the weekly oil bath.  He had a very small metal trunk, which was always almost empty for he had nothing to keep in it. 
     Sundays were the days when small vendors crept into the campus. Ice-cream seller was the most prominent. Another man always had collected crowds of students around him by telling stories liked by adolescent boys. He also sold some stationery, mostly Ball Point pens that were a craze at that time. M liked having ice-creams and on most of the Sundays he could never fulfill his dream of having an ice-cream stick. There was also a small shop manned by the students that sold many eatables and stationery. M could only visit the shop or the vendor of ice-creams in the hope of someone fulfilling his desire for eatables. He almost never had any cash with him. Students were not allowed to keep cash or dresses other than the uniforms. Many parents who resided in nearby towns visited their sons and brought them eatables and small cash. M’s parents were staying far away. It took at least eight hours travel by bus to come to him. One or two times his father and mother came and went within one hour. It was hard for them to come all the way from more than 500 kilometres just for a visit of a few hours if not minutes. One of his parents would come, very rarely. They would never come to-gether for that would involve more expenditure than they could afford.  He could see his sister or other relations only when he went home on holidays. There was a library in the school.  He started reading books. He read books that were beyond his age.  He read about chemical elements in the books borrowed from the library when in class 8, but when it was included in the syllabus in class 9 he started to look at them indifferently. That, he understood later, is the contribution of the system of education.  He discovered in books companions and friends and guides he lacked in real life. He read poetry, novels, science subjects, travelogues. His curiosity only increased.  He found that books gave him the confidence that he could survive lonely in the crowd with barely anything but doubts and unanswered questions.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chapter -2
    The boarding school was spread over 30 acres of land. At the centre was a square where a stone Buddha was sitting in meditation. Throughout his boarding school life he never heard or read anything about Buddha or why or who installed the statue. It was an icon that everyone needed to see and needed not to know.  As expected Buddha continued his silent meditation in M’s mind for many years till he could read Buddha’s biography written by a Vietnamese monk, at the age of 47. When he was studying in 9th Class, one of the duties assigned to him was to wash, apply oil and decorate Statue with white flowers picked from the tree which covered the statue like an umbrella.     In the sandy square in front of the Buddha statue he and other boys sat in the cool nights to speak about everything under the sun. They played hide and seek games in and around the square. On rare occasions dinner was served there on moonlit nights.  This place was swept clean by the 11th 10th and 9th class students whose areas were earmarked in their minds. There were many shrubs of red hibiscus flowers in the square and there were rows of small house-like wooden boxes of bee-hives.  There were many neem, pongai trees. The neem trees used to rain white and light yellow flowers in season and at other times its leaves.

    On the first day in the Hostel, the the sandy ground in front of the Buddha statue was full of excited, but anxious new students. There was one workman etching the names in metal dining plates and tumblers, as a mark of identification. The plates and the tumblers had to be kept in a common place and taken out only at the times of break-fast, lunch, tiffin and dinner and this required identification marks on the plates. Workman was charging 10 paise for etiching the names. M had only a five rupee note given by his mother. There was a small crowd surrounding the workman. He went and stood in front of the man for writing his name on his metal plate. The man asked for 10 paise. He had no change and had to wait for half an hour and thought and workman might have change after doing so much work. Still the man said that he did not have change for five rupees. Ultimately, after some time M’s name was etched on his steel plate and the workman said that since M had no change he need not pay. This simple gesture by a poor man was etched in his mind. He had the fortune of hearing about another man, a rikshaw-puller with a malnourished body, who very generously refused to take money from his distraught wife who rushed to a hospital carrying their child in her hands. It takes a hell lot of time to meet good human beings.  
      It was a day after 10th class examinations were over, when vacation started. He went to the city 20 km away from his school.  He would get a bus to his native place. He had Twenty one rupees. Ticket cost him eighteen and half and he had two and a half rupees. He had to spend three hours since bus started at six in the evening. He purchased one tamil magazine and decided to eat something. He walked some distance and went to the ‘Gowri Shankar hotel’ that looked big, neat and clean. He had not entered such hotels till that day. A lot of people were enjoying their food.  He ordered for a Dosai. It was very good. He saw the man sitting in a nearby table relishing a big elliptical dosai with many varieties of chutneys.  He thought of having another Dosai. It flickered in his mind that he might not have that much money. Still he ordered a special dosai. He still regretted that discretion even after 40 years.  

    When he finished, the waiter brought the bill, he had the shock of his life. He was short of money. He needed twenty five paise more. There was no way he could get it now. He was twenty kilometres away from the school and has to catch a bus within one hour. He had already brought the journey ticket. He looked around for a familiar face. He wanted someone to appear before him just then as in the religious stories and films. He could not see any known face. Only God could help.  Will the owner show mercy on him and let him go. His mental faculties failed. He waited for some time and pretended as if he was relaxing. His heart was pounding and it could pop out at any moment. How long could he stay there? He stood up and took the cloth bag in his hand and walked towards the entrance. He wanted to somehow exit the hotel without notice. But there was a watchman paid to keep track of the characters like his. He could not slip through. Watchman caught hold of his shirt color in front of everybody and pushed him towards his master at the counter. ‘Sir, this boy was trying to get away without making the payment.’ The man at the counter asked “where is the money, boy?’ Are you trying to get away? Come aside. Make the payment and go” He did not even ask as to how much is the bill amout. He did not care. He is sitting there to collect money not to earn god’s grace. M said “My parents are waiting at the bus stand and I would get the money and come back” It was a lie. Nothing more occurred to him.  The man at the counter told him to keep the his bag aside and to go and get the money required. He could not ask how much he owed or what was the amount he could pay. It was twenty five paise. He did not ask and M could not reply. There was a large crowd coming in and going out and everyone was looking at him. He was ashamed and could not look at anybody straight. He had to move out. He knew his parents were 547 kilometres away. M came out of the hotel and his heart was still pounding. He could have calculated the price of the Dosa before ordering it. He had an intuition that something would go wrong. But, it had happened. He could have resisted the temptation of having another dosai, which was in fact, excess.  “If only I had 25 paise more”

    He, on his way, looked around for a known face in the large crowd milling around the bus stand and on the streets of the big city. Thousands of people were moving but M had nobody to seek, plead, or beg in order to redeem his honour with the man at the hotel counter. He feared of someone from the hotel pursuing him relentlessly for making the payment. It was a terror, he could not forget till he sat on the bus and it started moving.  He was feeling so insulted and he blamed himself for yearning for another Dosai only for the taste of it.  He could never go to the hotel again to get the bag after making the payment or redeem his honour.  


Tuesday, July 03, 2012

       Chapter 1/ Arriving in the hostel

       On the fifteenth day of April 1968, Mugugesan’s mother took him to the boarding school. He was nine years old. He was a silent boy who obeyed his mother’s words. The boarding school conducted an examination to select the students. He was there to write the test.  The dress worn by the teachers consisted of white kurtha and white dhoti, made in thick khadi cloth. It looked odd. They were very diffierent from the teachers whom he had seen so far.  He did not know that khadi half-trouser in blue and half-sleeve kurta in white khadi would be his uniform for the next six years. He had to wear it day and night for whole duration of his stay in hostel and school.  Hostel dormitories and the  school class rooms were in the same areas and only time and ringing of the school bell  determined the place where he would be present. All persons looked strangers and there was a swamiji in saffron clothes.  Murugesan felt very uneasy but would speak little. He nodded when his anxious mother asked whether he found this place good and would it be fine.

     Mother and Murugesan waited for the results of the admission test. At 3 in the evening they were called.  The teacher incharge of the admission to class VI told his mother that M could be admitted in the category II which meant that they could only avail fifty percent concession in holtel and school fees. They had applied for availing of hundred per cent concesion in boarding and school fees. His mother explained their financial constraints and handed a letter of reference from an old student of that school pleading desperately for concession. Ultimately, she had to relent. There were only very limited seats for 100% concession and they have already been filled.  Though the amount of fees was very small she could not afford to pay such a huge part of her yearly income for educating her son. She had a daughter too to look after.  

     After admitting the boys, they were told to come after 5 days. As the town from which Murugesan hailed was 500 KM away from the boarding school his mother went to the nearby city and purchased a metal trunk and plate, tumbler and other articles of daily use for her son. They stayed with a family of another boy admitted in the school. They could not afford to stay in a lodge or hotel. He knew that his mother had no money left except for travel to the hometown.

     Next morning M was left at the school by his mother who returned to the home town. One of the teachers told him to play in the swing. He has never played in the swing so far. It was very high. For a long time to come he never went near the swing. It was only when he was in 9th class he could sit on the swing. He aimlessly roamed around the school. Other boys admitted to the Class VI were scheduled to join the school after 5 days. M was told to sit alongwith the boys of Class VII for a week. He felt very ackward in the class of seniors. Mostly he remained quiet. He was slowly tuning to the hostel and school life in the absence of his parents.  He was not aware as to when he would be able to see his parents and sister. There was a bronze bell ringing of which indicated each activity in the school and the hostel. For the rest of his life, most of his activities were determined by ringing of the bell in the inner corridors of his consciousness. Even at the age of 50 he heard the school bell ringing at five in the morning, the time he woke up almost everyday, wherever he slept. At eight in the morning the bell would ring in the stomach. It took another five years and a wife and children to discipline him in order to wake him only after six in the morning and have his breakfast only at eight thirty.

     On the fifth day boys admitted to Class VI came to the school and there was more new faces.  Some children cried when their parents took leave of them. Some boys had to be physically separated from their parents. M also felt like crying. His eyes were full of tears but no one noticed his tears. Even if some one noticed, none came near. He thought of his mother. She would be away in her work. Would she care to remember? He wanted to ask. Nobody would give him the only answer he knew. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

எட்டுப் பெண்கள்(திரைப்படம்)

நேற்று ஒரு பிரஞ்ச் திரைப்படம் பார்த்தேன். ‘8 Women’ (எட்டுப் பெண்கள்). எட்டுப் பெண்கள் ஓரிடத்தில் கூடுகிறார்கள். அது அவர்களுடைய பூர்வீக வீடு. ஒவ்வொருவராக படத்தில் தோன்றும் போது ஒருவிதமாக/குணமாக காட்சி அளிக்கிறார்கள். திடீரென்று ஒரு ஆண், அவர்கள் அனைவருக்கும் சொந்தக்காரன் கொலை செய்யப்பட்டுக் கிடக்க்கிறான். அவனைப் பற்றிய பேச்சும், அவனை யார் கொலை செய்திருக்கக் கூடும் என்ற பதட்டமும், ஒவ்வொருவருக்கும் மற்றவர்களைப் பற்றிய சந்தேகங்களும், ஊகங்களும், விமரிசனங்களும், பேச்சும், பொய்யான முகமூடிகளும் வெளிவருகின்றன.  அதிர்ச்சியையும், நகைச்சுவையையும் ஏளனத்தையும் மிகச்சிறப்பாகக் கலந்து, எந்த உணர்ச்சியும் மிகைப்படாமல், அதே நேரத்தில் இந்த உணர்வுகள் தொடர்ந்து வெளிப்பட்டுக் கொண்டே இருக்கும் வகையில் இருக்கிறது. எட்டுப் பெண்களில் ஒவ்வொருவரும் தவறுகள் செய்திருக்கிறார்கள், ஒவ்வொருவராலும் கொலை செய்யப்படுவதற்கான காரணங்கள் இருக்கின்றன. அனைத்தும் வெளிப்பட்டபின் அவர் மகள் உண்மையை வெளிப்படுத்துகிறாள். அவர் கொல்லப்படவில்லை. அவள் சென்று பார்க்கும் பொது உண்மையை உணர்ந்த ஆண், துப்பாக்கியால் சுட்டுத் தற்கொலை செய்து கொள்ளுகிறான்.

        மிகச்சிறப்பான ஒரு திரைப்படம் பார்த்த மனநிறைவு ஏற்பட்டது.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

காலத்தை வெல்லும் தந்திரம்

மனிதன் ஒத்துக் கொள்ள முடியாத இயற்கை நிகழ்வு சாவு. அதை வெல்லுவதற்குப் பல முயற்சிகள் செய்கிறான். தோற்றுவிடுவோம் என்று தெரிந்தும் மீண்டும் மீண்டும் முயற்சி செய்கிறான். தந்திரங்கள், மந்திரங்கள், மருந்துகள், பூசைகள், வேண்டுதல்கள் என்று நீளும் அவன் முயற்சிகள். இவைகளைத் தவிர, சாவை வெல்ல முடியாததால், தன் பெயரை எப்படியாவது காலமெனும் வானத்தில் பொன்னெழுத்துக்களால் பொறித்துவிட முயற்சி செய்கிறான்.

வீடுகளுக்குத் தன் பெயர் வைப்பது முதல், சிலை வைத்தல், நினைவகங்கள் அமைத்தல் , நினைவாக பள்ளிகள் மருத்துவமனைகள் வைத்தல் என்று எப்படியாவது தன் பெயரை மற்றவர்கள் கண்ணில் படும்படி வைப்பதில் குறியாக இருக்கிறான். அரசியல் வாதிகளுக்குப் பொதுவாகவே தங்கள் மீதான அளவற்ற காதல் உண்டு. நார்ஸிஸியஸின் வழித்தோன்றல்கள். அவனைப் போலவே தண்டனை கிடைத்தாலும் அதை ஏற்றுக் கொண்டு பெயரை நிலைநாட்டப்

”பெயர்விளங்கி ஒளிர நிறுத்தல்’ என்னும் இந்த நோய் மெல்ல மெல்லத் தொற்று நோயாகிப் பரவி வருவதைக் காணமுடியும். கோவில்களில் எரியும் நீளக் குழல் விளக்குகளில் தன் பெயரை எழுதி எழில் சேர்க்கும் வழக்கத்தைச் சொல்லலாம். கடவுளுக்குத் தெரிகிறதோ இல்லையோ, கோவிலுக்கு வரும் பக்தர்களுக்கு, ஒளிவிளக்கைத் தானம் கொடுத்தவர் பெயர் தெரியும். இதனாலெல்லாம் பெயர் விளங்கி நிலை நிற்குமா? பெயர் நிலைத்து நின்றாலும் கொஞ்ச காலம் கழித்து அவர் முகத்தை யாருக்காவது நினைவிருக்குமா? உதாரணமாக பாரி வள்ளலில் சிலை வைத்தால் அது பாரிவள்ளலுக்கும் தெரியாது. அவரைப் பற்றி அறிந்தவர்களுக்கும் அவர் அப்படித்தான் இருந்தாரா என்பது தெரியாது. அதனால் யாருக்கும் எதுவும் ஆகப் போவதில்லை.

திருவள்ளுவர் உருவம் எப்படி உருவானது என்று யாரோ எழுதியிருந்தைப் படிக்க நேர்ந்தது. பாரதிதாசன் ஒப்புதலுடன் தாடி வைத்து தயார் செய்த உருவத்தை திருவள்ளுவராக்கி விட்டார்கள். தமிழ் மக்களுக்குப் புதிதாக ஒரு கடவுள் கிடைத்துவிட்டார். அவரைக் கும்பிடலாம் பூசை செய்யலாம். ஆனால் தப்பித் தவறியும் படித்துவிடக்கூடாது. படித்தாலும் அதை மனப்பாடம் செய்து ஒப்பிக்க வேண்டும். புரிந்து கொள்ளவோ ஆராய்ச்சி செய்யவோ கூடாது. இப்படித்தான் நாம் திருவள்ளுவரை நினைத்துக் கொள்ளும் விதம். அவருக்கே இந்தக் கதி என்றால் மற்றவர்களின் நிலை என்ன?

ஊருக்கு ஊர் காந்தி சிலையும், தமிழ்நாட்டில் அண்ணா சிலையும் வைத்ததால், அண்ணாவுக்கும் காந்திக்கும் எந்தப் பயனும் இல்லை. அவரைப்பற்றி சிந்திக்காத நமது மக்களுக்கும் எந்தப் பயனும் இல்லை. காக்காய் உட்காரவும், எச்சம் இடவும் தான் பயன். இந்தப் பாலத்தை இன்னார் கட்டினார் என்று எழுதியிருந்தாலும், இன்னார் திறந்துவைத்தார் என்று எழுதியிருந்தாலும், பெயர் தவிர எதுவும் 50
ஆண்டுகளுக்குப் பின்னால் தெரிவதில்லை.

அரசு அலுவலகங்களிலும் இந்த நோய் பரவிவிட்டது. இந்தப் பதவியில் யார் யார் இருந்தார்கள் என்பது எழுதி வைக்கப்படுகிறது. இப்படியெல்லாம் எழுதி வைப்பதன் மூலம் பெயரை நிலை நாட்டி விடலாம் என்ற எச்சிற்கலை புத்தி விடுவதில்லை. நன்றாக வேலை செய்து காட்டுவோம் அதனால் பெயர் நிலை நிற்கும் என்பதே தோன்றுவதில்லை. அரசு அதிகாரிகள் என்ன சாதனையாளர்களா? இருக்கும் வேலையை ஒழுங்காகச் செய்வதற்கே வக்கில்லாதவர்கள் பெயரை நிலை நாட்டுவதில் நேரத்தையும் பொருட்களையும் வீணாக்கிக் கொண்டிருக்கிறார்கள். அழிவும் மாறுதலும் மட்டுமே நிலையானது. நமது பெயர்களை, படங்களை எப்படிச் செதுக்கி வைத்தாலும் அவை அழிந்துவிடும். பூமியைப் பொறுத்தவரை நாம் ஒரு அணுத்துகளை விடச் சிறிய பொருட்கள். பிரபஞ்சத்தை நினைத்தாலோ பூமிகூட ஒரு அணுத்துகள். கண்ணுக்குத் தெரியாதது என்பதை சொல்ல வேண்டியதில்லை.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

ஊழலிருந்து, கையூட்டிலிருந்து நமது வீடுவரை

ஊழல் என்பதும் நமக்கு மிகவும் பரிச்சயமான ஒன்றாகி விட்டது. எதிலாவது லஞ்சமோ, கூடுதல் வரும்படியோ இல்லை என்றால், அது அசாதாரணமாக, ’நார்மல்’ அல்லாமல் தோன்றுகிறது. இதை நமது சமூக அரசியல், பொருளாதார கலாச்சாரத் தளங்களில் மிகச் சாதாரண நடைமுறையாகக் காணலாம். இந்தச் சீரழிவுக்கு காரணம் காண்பதோ அல்லது தீடீரென ஒழித்துவிடலாம் என்று கனவு காண்பதோ நடைமுறைக்குச் சாத்தியம் அல்ல.

ஒரு மஹாத்மா காந்தியோ அல்லது அவரைப் பகடி செய்வது போல் தோன்றிக் கொண்டே இருக்கும் ஏமாற்றுக்காரர்களாலோ இந்தப் பிரச்சனையைத் தீர்த்து விடலாம் என்று நினைப்பதும் வெட்டிக் கனவே. எல்லாச் சட்டங்களையும் மதித்து நடக்கும் சாதாரண ஏழை மனிதனைத் தவிர மற்ற அனைவரும் இதற்குப் பொறுப்பேற்க வேண்டும். கடைக்கோடியில் இருக்கும் மனிதனும் ( வேறு சமூக மட்டங்களைச் சேர்ந்த இளிச்சவாயர்களும் இதில் அடக்கம்) தன்னால் முடியவில்லை என்பதால் நேர்மையாக இருக்கிறானோ என்று கூட நினைக்கத் தோன்றுகிறது. நாம் பேசிக் கொண்டே இருப்பது தவிர வேறு எதுவும் செய்ய முடியாமலிருக்க்க் காரணம் என்ன என்று யோசித்தால், நாமும் இந்த ஊழலில், கையூட்டில் மிக அதிகமாக ஊறிவிட்டதுதான் காரணம்.

இரண்டாவதாக ஊடகங்களில், ஊழலுக்குக் கிடைக்கும் அளவு மரியாதையும், விளம்பரமும், நல்லவர்களுக்கோ நல்ல விஷயங்களுக்கோ கிடைப்பதில்லை. ஏனெனில் ஊடகங்களின் நிதி ஆதாரத்தில் இந்த ஊழலும் முக்கிய இடம் வகிக்கிறது. ஏதாவது ஏடாகூடம் செய்துதான், அந்தத் தொழிலும் நடக்கிறது.
ஊழல் மூலமும் கையூட்டு மூலமும் கிடைக்கும் பணம் நமது வாழ்வின் ஆதாரமாகிவிட்டது. அதன் மூலமாகவே நமது மற்ற நடவடிக்கைகளில் நமக்குப் பழகிப் போன ஆடம்பரத்தின் ஆரம்பம் இருக்கிறது. ஊழல் செய்தவன் அநியாயக்காரன் என்பதிலிருந்து தொடங்கி, ஊழல் செய்யாதவன்தான் பைத்தியக்காரன் என்றிருந்த காலமும் போய், இப்போது நேர்மையாக நடப்பவன் தான் ஏமாற்றுக்காரன் என்ற நிலைமை வந்துவிட்டது. நமக்கு எல்லோருக்குக் பங்கிருக்கும் ஒரு சமூகக் கேட்டைச் சில மாயக்காரர்கள் வந்து நீக்கி விடுவார்கள் என்பது பித்தலாட்டம்.

அன்னா ஹசாரேயும் அவரது கூட்டமும் ஊழல் செய்வதில்லை என்றே வரித்துக் கொண்டாலும், அவர்களைத்தவிர பலகோடிப் பேர் ஊழலிலும், கையூட்டிலும் ஊறித்திளைத்தவர்கள் என்பதை மறந்து விடமுடியாது. அவர்கள் எந்தச் சட்டம் வந்தாலும் தங்கள் கைவரிசையைக் காட்டக் கூடியவர்கள்.

மேலும் ஊழல் என்பது, பொருளாதாரக் காரணங்களினாலும் ஏற்படுகிறது என்பதை ஒதுக்கிவிட முடியாது. விரைவில் பணக்காரராக விரும்பும் ஆவலும் அதற்கான உந்துதலைத் தரும் சமூக நடைமுறையும் ( பணமிருந்தால் எதையும் செய்யலாம். சட்டம் ஒன்றும் செய்யாது என்பது போன்ற நடைமுறைகள் ) இருக்கும்வரை ஊழலின் வேர்கள் இருக்கத்தான் செய்யும்.

பணத்துக்கு இருக்கும் மதிப்பு அறிவுக்கு இருக்கிறதா? பணத்துக்கு இருக்கும் மதிப்பு நேர்மைக்கு இருக்கிறதா? நல்ல கவிஞனுக்கோ, தத்துவஞானிக்கோ சிந்தனையாளனுக்கோ சமூகம் என்ன மரியாதை தருகிறது? இவை என்றும் நம்முன் உள்ள கேள்விகள். பணம் எதையும் வெல்லும் என்ற நிலைமை இருக்கும் வரை, பணத்தை மட்டுமே நோக்கிய மக்கள் திரளின் பயணம் இருக்கும். பணம் சிலருக்கு நேர்மையான உழைப்பின் மூலம் கிடைத்ததாய் அவர்கள் நம்பக் கூடும். மற்றவர்கள் அதையே மற்ற வழிகளிலும் அடையத் துடிப்பதும் நடக்கும். இந்த நேரத்தில் ஒரு வாசகம் ஞாபகம் வருகிறது. “ஊசிமுனைத் துளை வழியே ஒட்டகம் சென்றாலும், பணக்காரம் சொர்க்கம் செல்ல முடியாது”.

ஒரு சமூகத்தில் அனைத்து மனிதர்களின் உழைப்பையும் ஒரு கூடையில் வைத்தால், அந்தக் கூடையில் இருந்துதான் அனைத்துப் பொருட்களும், தேவைகளும் நிறைவு செய்யப்படும் என்று ஏற்றுக் கொண்டால், உழைக்காமலே அந்தக் கூடையில் இருந்து எடுத்துக் கொள்ளும் நபர்கள் இருக்கும் வரை, அவர்களுக்காகவும், மற்றவர்கள் உழைக்க வேண்டியிருக்கும். கூடை நிறைவதற்கான உழைப்பாளிகளின் பங்களிப்பு, உழைக்காத மற்றவர்களூக்காகவும் சேர்த்துத்தான் இருக்கும் இந்த இடைவெளியைப் பணம் என்னும் காகிதம் நிரப்புகிறது. அது நாய் விற்ற காசா? ஊழலில் விளைந்த பணமா என்று யோசித்தால் தீர்வு இல்லை.

ஊழலை ஒழிக்க முடியுமா என்ற கேள்விக்கு பதில் நாம் உண்மையிலேயே உழலை ஒழிக்க விரும்புகின்றோமா என்பதிலும் அதற்காக என்ன செய்ய விரும்புகிறோம் என்பதிலும் இருக்கிறது. வரதட்சனைக்கு எதிராகச் சட்டம் இருந்தும், அதற்காக யாராவது வருந்துகிறோமா? வரதட்சனைக்கு எதிரான சட்டத்தைக் கண்டு பயப்படுகிறோமா? வரதட்சனை வாங்கவிரும்புகிறோமா? அல்லது வாங்காமல் இருக்க விரும்புகிறோமா? பெண்களைச் சமமாக மதிக்கிறோமா அல்லது மதிக்க விரும்புகிறோமா? இரண்டுக்கும் தீர்வு ஒன்றுதான். கொடிய சட்டங்களைக் கொண்டுவந்து விடுவதால் மட்டுமே எதையும் மாற்றிவிடமுடியாது. என்ன செய்யலாம்?

மனிதனின் தேவைகள் அதிகமாகின்றன. அதற்கான விலைகளும் அதிகமாகின்றன. ஆசைக்கும் விலைக்கும் உள்ள தூரமே ஊழல் நிரப்பும் இடைவெளி. பேராசையைக் கொஞ்சம் குறைக்கலாம். உலகத்தின் பொருட்களை அளவுக்கு அதிகமாக உபயோகிப்பதைக் குறைக்கலாம். உழைக்காமல் அனுபவிக்க வேண்டும் என்ற ஆசையைக் குறைக்கலாம். அடுத்தவனின் பணத்தை எளிதாக அடைய முயலாமல் இருக்கலாம். குறுக்கு வழியில் அடுத்தவன் நிலைக்கு உயரவேண்டும் என்று நினைக்காமல் இருக்கலாம். பணத்தைத் தவிர, ஆடம்பரத்தைத் தவிர, பல நல்ல பொருட்களும், கலைகளும், விஷயங்களும் இருப்பதை அடைய முயலலாம்.

எளிமையான தீர்வுகள் இருந்தால் நல்லது. ஆனால் சமூகத்தில் எதுவும் எளிமையான வகைப்பாடுகளுக்குள், தீர்வுகளுக்குள் அடங்குவதில்லை.