Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Inspiringly Yours

"Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud" - Maya Angelou.

Picture Courtesy: Saptarshi Chakrabarti
The aging watchman of a building I walk past every morning on my way to college has an apparently boring life. He reports for duty at 8 sharp every morning, dons the smart cap which his security company has provided him to go with his uniform, and has a busy couple of hours till 10 in the morning while the regular office goers leave the building in their middle-sized cars. Very little is there to distract him till late in the evening, when these same office goers return to their brightly lit drawing rooms and welcoming families. What does this man do with so much time in his hand, I used to wonder as a child. And one day I discover him, sitting alone on a sultry summer afternoon in the small 6x6 room provided to him, cooling off in front of a small stand fan, and playing softly to his own self a small harmonica. I return to the spot a couple of days later, and I find the man contentedly busy doing exactly the same thing, and this time I notice a small radio set beside the fan, playing softly an old, almost forgotten Kishore tune. I realize that this man's life is not one of boredom, but one of peaceful and untroubled seclusion where he is happy to be busy with the only thing which has managed to inspire him most from across all four corners of the world: his quaint little harmonica.

Where do I even begin this story? To write about Inspiration is surely one of the most difficult tasks there is, for you need to have a lot of it to start writing in the first place. My first encounter with this strange object, or rather the dearth of it, came as I was just putting my foot into the hitherto unknown territories of adolescence and youth. As the business of existence was gradually becoming more and more serious, my 13-year-old self suddenly realized that quite a lot was expected out of me. And off I embarked on this stimulating expedition. At times the journey was challenging; at times the journey was fun; but at all times the journey was dead serious. There were phases when an overwhelming desire to surrender and go back to being a child besieged me. Indeed, the need for inspiration in order to progress was a novel phenomenon.

Anne Frank
Positive Energy! It is the most ethereal yet absolutely essential commodity which inhabits the mindscape. When Anne Frank used to feel saddened by the prosecution of the Jews around her and by how her parents always seemed to love her elder sister more than her, she turned to her diary Kitty to give vent to her feelings, and in turn draw inspiration from her own words. A close family friend I've known since my childhood has this thing for chocolates, and she'd be ready to go out and buy a box of pick-me-up Ferrero Rocher even if there were a storm going on outside. A deeply-in-love friend of mine needs nothing but a short 15-minute chat with his betrothed, a wonderful girl, to get his mood up again and he is ready to face any problem in the world. I, on the other hand, am not easily inspired. I still need a very strong impetus, almost childlike, to shake me out of my humdrum existence and bring me to do something worthwhile.

Uninspired living is dangerous existence. It is true that sustenance demands from us only the luxuries of food clothing and shelter. But just as the body needs nourishment and security for survival, the soul it houses is no different, and that is precisely the quality that sets us apart from our non-human ancestors. Our country has an exhaustive workforce pushing along the nation over the rails of progress, but the progress is not a well-oiled one. The fact that Indian students have potential which go much beyond their international counterparts is accepted by all and sundry, but have we ultimately produced internationally acclaimed engineers, doctors and social scientists to our true promise? It is unfortunate indeed but an uninspired workforce is not capable of producing magical growth rates and nor can an uninitiated student succeed in winning the accolades he or she might deserve. The human mind is the master of the human body, so when the monarch is impoverished, the heads of the subjects are bound to droop.

প্রতিক্রিয়াশীল কোনো বিপ্লবে
If your existence has been reduced to one continuous monotonous humming in your ear and your mind scatters right and left when you direly need to collect your facilities together, simply look around! Inspiration is waiting to be discovered, in every object around you. I remember a trip I took almost a year back to my ancestral place, and came back from there with many happy memories and one solitary rock, picked up arbitrarily from a riverbank as a keepsake. The memories and the memento together served as a powerful inspiring force for a long time, and the rock still owns pride of place in my study. I was a reader in my youth; time steadily devoured the sacrifice of this habit at the altar of métier. A short discussion on reading habits and tastes with a new found friend surprisingly inspired me back to my reading habits once more, and I hope that this inspiration, which ultimately has to come from within, is here to stay. It is said that if you look up into the night sky at the pin-pricked stars against the jet black backdrop, not a negative thought can ever pollute your mind for the moment. And the sky is one thing we all have for free.

Picture Courtesy: Mitrayan Hazra
Life is terribly short, and the wise men and women make the most of it while it lasts. In brooding and melancholic contemplation, every minute spent is sixty seconds wasted. The world is not going to wait for me to get my psyche in shape, so I am possibly in high risk of getting left behind. So tomorrow on my way through my routine errands, when I shall pass that neighbouring building of mine yet again, I will not only throw a cursory glance at the aged man sitting on a stool maybe reading a vernacular daily, but also look to find how he cultivates his source of inspiration which sustains him through a life which is otherwise so utterly routine. And then it will be my turn to flick through my surroundings and try to find my own passion, my article of rejuvenation, which will bring me out of the rut I might be falling into. It is time for me to discover my own harmonica.

"There are two ways of spreading light: be the candle or the mirror that reflects it." - Edith Warton.

May we all be mirrors to God's eternal light, reflecting it upon those who need it most direly.