Imagine a girl entering a room with more than 300 people in it and shouting “I feel sad!” and then making a sad face. And while everyone sees her, some ignore while others start asking her what’s wrong. Her sadness becomes all important but in a matter of minutes someone else shouts a quote by Waldo Emerson and a lot of people go and tell him that they liked it before going on to congratulate another person who shouts that he loves his wife. This goes on and on and people keep hearing the shouting or shouting themselves. That’s what we call facebook.
“People might not realize this for a long long time, but I see you as one of the great philosophers of our time,” said the fan.
The fan was a guy who was meeting Shuntoo for the second time and was an ardent reader of my blogs about him. In the process, he had fallen in love with Shuntoo and his way of looking at things.
I couldn’t help smiling at his comment and became interested in what Shuntoo had to say about it. The son of a bitch responded in his customary irritating fashion, and scoffed. He scoffed, without even taking his eyes off the book he was looking at.
Undeterred by Shuntoo’s reaction, or the lack of it, the fan persisted. “No sir, I mean it. Your brain is an amazing piece of work and you certainly possess one the greatest minds produced by this country.” Shuntoo gave a little “huh!” and seemed to ignore him.
“Shuntoo! Don’t be so arrogant. At least thank the guy for such a huge compliment.” I said, feeling an obligation to make Shuntoo act decently.
When Shuntoo closed the book and lit a Marlboro, I knew we were in trouble. The fan, however, looked at him expectantly, no doubt sensing another philosophical treatise.
“Why thank you kid!” Shuntoo said, “Thank you for showing me that you are no different from the rest of the pathetic lot around.”
“What?” I exclaimed. “You can’t be serious Shuntoo.”
“On the contrary, bachhay, I am as serious as I always am. You have become a pathetic bunch of people. So desperate for greatness that you want to imagine it into mere mortals who are mostly as pathetic as you are. You have spent all your lives waiting for great people and messiahs to put you out of all your self-created troubles and now instead of realizing your folly, you try to forcibly make people great by calling them so.”
“Shuntoo, I….” I tried to intervene but to no avail.
“You see a Maulana claiming to receive messages from the heavens to rid you of your troubles and you begin to follow him like a herd of cattle. You see a judge take a so-called stand and you ignore everything else and take to the streets imagining yourself to be fighting for a messiah. You see a novice politician make promises to large gatherings in jalsa-cum-concerts and you throng to vote for him without taking a moment to realize his weaknesses and the slimness of any possibility that he could fulfill his promises. And I don’t even want to get started on how our history books exaggerate the achievements of anyone that we want to prove great.”
“What’s wrong with that? You…..” the bastard didn’t let me finish, as usual.
“Everything is wrong with that. You look at all these people who you have decided are great with so much admiration and end up believing that these greats are from another world, that they are something else. You need to stop this nonsense and start using your minds. Stop waiting for greatness to descend from other places, find it in yourself.”
The fan looked extremely impressed by this ‘philosophy’. “That is a great ……” was all he could say.
“You are hopeless kid,” Shuntoo continued. “This is nothing great. I am nothing great. And if I had any illusion that I was, it would have vanished after hearing you say it. Will you people never start living and thinking and working? Will you always wait for greatness, create artificial greats and thrust greatness upon idiot.”
“Wow!” the fan said.
“Hopeless!” Shuntoo said opening his book again, “Just hopeless.”
I couldn’t help smiling.
I imagined the world to be an examination hall and life to be a test. I looked around and I saw people
1. Who find the questions to be really easy but don’t even attempt to answer them spending the whole time celebrating how easy the test is.
2. Who find the questions to be too hard and don’t even attempt to answer them spending the whole time complaining that the test is out of course.
3. Who don’t even care about the questions on the test and are too busy making sure that their chair, table and environment are perfect.
4. Who are not bothered about their test. They are more concerned about how the other candidates are doing and keep complaining about how the others have it better.
5. Who spend most of their time trying to make sure that the others fail without thinking that the others’ failure would not mean their own success.
6. Who spend most of their time trying to copy others without realizing that everyone has a different question paper.
7. Who are so concerned about how much time they and their friends and relatives would get for the test that they completely ignore the test itself, thus making whatever amount of time they have, fruitless.
8. Who keep trying to pretend that they have the best seat in the hall and don’t realize that it does not matter the least.
9. Who keep trying to pretend that they know all the answer and don’t realize that its what they write that matters, not what they make the other candidates believe.
10. Who quietly attempt the questions, with the belief that it is not their answers that will be graded but the effort they put in.
“What are your achievements in life? Things that you can be proud of?” he asked
“There are many,” he replied with a proud look on his face. “They may not be the kind of achievements you are expecting, but I consider them much more important than the things people normally consider to be achievements.”
“What do you mean?” he asked, interested.
“Well, I have not been on Deans’ lists, or achieved outstanding grades, or made a lot of money, or been a part of high profile projects, or have people in high places as friends or had articles published in famous journals etc.”
“Hm! Then what are your achievements?” he asked, bemused at this silly attempt at justifying the apparently complete lack of success in this person’s life.
“I’ll name a few. I have achieved a certain state of mind. I can
1. Get up every morning at the exact time that I want to wake up on, without the least bit of lethargy or a bad mood or a desire to stay in bed a little bit longer.
2. Use my brain to control all kinds of emotions including love, hate, anger, sadness, happiness, envy and ambition.
3. Listen to anything I have to listen to without feeling annoyed, bored or irritated.
4. Meet and interact with people without judging them. I can differentiate between people and their actions and judge the action without judging the person.
5. Take all kind of criticism with an open mind, picking up the points that can help me improve and ignoring the nonsense.
6. Admit my mistakes without believing that it makes me a lesser person.
7. Have confidence and faith in myself and whatever I do without being too arrogant and stubborn to think that I always do the right thing and cannot be wrong.
8. Accept people who have diametrically opposite views to mine, and am ready to logically analyze which of us is wrong where.
9. See the world and everything in it as a dynamic entity where everything is changing all the time and any effort to cling on to a thing and resist change could lead to disaster.
10.Give due importance to everything including money, profits, career, family, health, knowledge, emotions etc. while taking care to avoid giving too much or too little importance to any of them.”
He finished and looked at the older man confidently. There was no sign of nervousness, anxiety, arrogance or pretentiousness about him.
The older man thought for a moment, then said.