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Monday, 30 July 2012

Of footprints in sand and stone.

Home videos are adorable to watch and I watched one such video this morning of a pretty mother playing with her children on the beach, frolicking about.The pretty mother just so happens to be the Queen of England and she is playing with baby Prince Charles. This video will be released on BBC as part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebration. Now I don’t know the Queen, don’t think I ever actually saw her, but I still awww’ed when I saw her in the video, and if she dies tomorrow I will feel sad and a twinge to lose this emblem of monarchy, a symbol so to say of something that represents not only a name but an institution of greatness which we can only aspire to. The point of the monarchy repressing the masses, an old relic etc. is not the point here. End of or decline of any great achievement or phenomenon does affect one no matter how hard one tries to deny it.
We cannot say for certain where we are going if we do not know where we come from. The past whether recalled by oneself or reminisced by someone else holds a romanticism which is delicate, almost tangible. One always seems to recall the good instances, because the present has enough bad bits as it is, so if one is to go back in time and remember ‘what was’ the bad bits are always edited. Khalil Gibran said “The things which the child loves remain in the domain of the heart until old age. The most beautiful thing in life is that our souls remaining over the places where we once enjoyed ourselves”
Humans are a unique, unbelievably fantastic specie. Our accomplishments are universal accomplishments of sorts. The unity that comes forth on a momentous occasion when we unite in spite of all our differences is breathtaking. We rejoice at the rise and are solemn at the fall.
Aunty and I went to watch this play last week and I was the first one to notice that the descript old man on a wheelchair is Indian celebrity of yester years Shashi Kapoor.  Looking at him made me feel a deep melancholy. This man was so dashing, so handsome in his prime years. His handle bar mustache in Junoon still makes me go oooo, and there he was, sitting in front of me in a wheel chair, partly paralyzed watching everyone as they hardly noticed him at first. What I didn’t ‘see’ was the old man, what fascinated me was the life he has led, the things he had seen. His accomplishments, his handsomeness, his fan following has no contribution from me, but to see him as I saw him made me relate to him in some way. I wanted to leave the play and to sit down and talk to him, to feel a pseudo celebrity by association, the same way the crowd rushes to touch an ascetic’s garment. Maybe that touch would rub some spirituality, some magic off on them (Purification by association).
“See how the mighty fall”.
Even a person one despises and would wish downfall to, when that downfall does happen, how can one not feel sadness. We need an object to despise, to project onto, helps us to live with ourselves. Regret of failure ( not social but personal) lingers in the deep recesses of our psyche, and that regret projects onto a successful manager at work, actors on the screen, well off family members, better looking friends, to name a few. The point is not that we can or cannot achieve what these symbols of our negativity represent. The point isn’t about what they have done to achieve it. The point is that at that given instance we are not where they are. And that doesn’t bode well. No, not at all. Having said that, if these spiraling stars were to stop sparkling, if Shashi Kapoor did not have that sadness in his eyes when he looked at the crowd treating him as an object to be gawked at, its almost a personal loss burdened with a heavy heart, momentarily maybe, but sad nonetheless.
Achievements and pinnacles denote hope (a carrot hanging in front of the rabbit, if we must). Fall of the mighty remind us of our mortality. If what we aspire to, loathe to love and brand as invincible, can fall and be old and helpless like the rest of us common folk, then what hope do we have? The Pharaoh was, as he proclaimed, the lord of the morning and the evening sun, he transcended the realms of being a man, and became almost a fascinating light to be trembled before. He was buried in a sarcophagus, where his tomb was plundered by dozens of tribes, and now his mummy sits on some archeologists table, and his entails are studied by a bunch of fascinated students. Look how the mighty fall.
The rise and fall is who we are. We rise or ride on the celebrity of others, but we ought not to mock their fall. They fell because they reached a height, who are we then to mock them when we never rose from the ground? Placate ourselves if we must with pointless explanations, but who are we trying to make a fool of? Sift and grasp. One must look at the achievements and aspire to it and not belittle it, just because the object of our fascination happens to be human.
Quran 49:11-12 ‘Let not a group mock another group; it maybe that these are better than they’
My granddad is one of the most remarkable person I have had the fortune of knowing. Grandad has travelled the world, made friends with celebrities, has had a handle bar moustache which would be an envy to any Hungarian and told the village council man off, wore macs when they were the height of fashion, learnt German when he had a strong Indian accent to his English and now he writes Urdu poetry, has an attention span of a 3 year old and is ready to travel with anyone and everyone, but given a chance wouldn’t even venture for a movie out of sheer laziness. The family elders see him as someone old, who needs to pushed “to do” things, they feel the need to say that he has to be more active and condescend him. I resent that. I see him as someone who has been there done that. He has done more than most of us get to do in a lifetime. He doesn’t need to be pitied, the same way as Shashi Kapoor doesn’t need the ‘poor guy’ speech. Men like these should hold audience and regale us with fascinating stories of ‘what was’ and what can be.
Some people are like footprints on the sand, with each wave their existence is washed away. Others like my Grandad leave footprints on stone, which can fade away, yet will never be washed away.

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