“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.