Thursday, September 10, 2009

The sin of being single

I’ve been on leave since yesterday – down with a stomach ailment and viral infection. Rendered immobile physically, mind too is lost in cluttered thoughts. The exercise might well extend into tomorrow since Friday is my weekly off. Three days of leaves, a rare bonanza, will be exhausted by an unwanted guest (read ailment). Worse, 72 hours of staying at home and no constructive activity. Not a small sin.

But, there’s a bigger sin, almost cardinal, especially if you reside in the “modern” Indian society. A society, which along with the “Right to Information” (about your life), also exercises the “Right to Interfere” (again, in your life). The two RTIs. And, now I’m being held guilty on the charge of disallowing this “mandatory” access.

My heinous crime: I’m still Unmarried despite reaching the “marriageable” age, which too is deciphered and designated by our august society. It’s issued almost like a diktat and any sign of disobedience or delay on the count is punished with a verbal onslaught, often publicly. I’m beginning to experience the same. What started as a murmur few months ago has started gaining momentum and time does not seem far when it reaches a crescendo. Family, friends, colleagues and whosoever remotely knows me unabashedly fire the question. Again, I’ve no right to answer. For they come prepared with the answers too – “better, hurry up or you won’t get find a good partner,” “you’re already SO late”, “a companion is a must at this age,” and the unstoppable flow of suggestions and solutions continue, till you hang up the ears.

So, the picture is clear. I’m on the hit-list and have only two choices: first, submit to the jury’s verdict and enter wedlock, or second, get prepared for a more vicious attack from different quarters, both for myself and my immediate family, if I fail to ignore the “popular will”. Without a shadow of doubt, I’ve chosen the second one. Horrendous, my so called well-wishers say. Thus the so called “Good Boy” (a sobriquet I neither deserve nor like nor ever asked for, but that too was thrust upon me) of the family is fast becoming a Baddie – arrogant, disrespectful and too outspoken. May be, even eccentric. Though I disagree with such views, yet respect others’ Right to Opinion. But, I would not accept the abovementioned two RTIs.

I cannot allow my life to be hijacked by the whims and fancies of the world, as it happened some times in the past. Certain events of life have taught me that it’s important to live life, especially personal, on one’s terms. Otherwise, the world will use you, dump you, and forget you. Besides, I do not consider it necessary to offer explanation to everyone. Only a select few can ask or give advice to me on the issue, for they are the ones who stood by me in bad weather. Even if they disagree with my explanation, they will continue to remain dear….always.

Most of the people whom I now meet have the question ready on their lips: both to my amusement and annoyance. I ask: why an individual can’t be allowed to live his/her life. If marriage would have been the only symbol of happiness, then we would not see so many unhappy couples around. Further, what may be applicable to one person may not necessarily fit the other. Simple logic. But, how many understand it.

Let me make one thing clear. I do not look down upon the institution of marriage. In fact, it’s a beautiful concept and I feel happy for my all friends who are married and blessed with lovely kids. But then, that does not mean I need to emulate them. Do I? I may have my reasons, my pursuits, which may be far more important than getting myself enrolled in the wedlock register. How can wedding be made the foremost parameter of judging an individual. Besides, it’s not possible to lead a planned life always. Be it past or present, my plans too have gone awry, much against my wishes. Individuals have their own destiny and mission. I too have set my eyes on some targets for next few years.

Hence, dear world, allow me the space and peace to pursue my goals.

There is no denying that in personal life I’m quite a stubborn and don’t get influenced/affected easily by public opinion. And won’t even shy away from defending my single status. Also, I don’t know if it would be a permanent feature or whether the freeze would ever be lifted. Whatever happens, one thing is for sure: the decision would be mine. I’m not the one to succumb to pressures, criticisms or emotional blackmailing.

However, the forward journey may not be easy. The way I’ve started earning people’s ire, it could soon result in strained relations with some friends and relatives. But then, Arjun too had to attack his blood relations in the battle of Mahabharata, for he had the conviction that he was fighting for a just cause. I’m too small a mortal to draw any parallel with the mythological hero. However, I too am driven by my own decisions and convictions and would be ready to face any attack. Arguing with my own people often leaves me in bitter taste; still I’ve to hold my ground. The only grudge is that not many are on my side in this war. Still, the lone warrior will carry on.

To wind up, here’s a couplet my friend (another bachelor, another sinner) sent me. I find it befitting. However, all married people should not feel offended:

Shaadiyan unki huin jinko akl-o-saroor na tha,
Apni to umar kati zikr-e-nikah hota raha….!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

We would need more YSRs

A blazing political flame doused by a whimsical nature. No matter how powerful a person may be, all have to submit to destiny’s diktat. But perhaps, some mortals die only to live forever.

YSR could be one of them.

The tragic death of Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy in a helicopter crash on September 2 has plunged the entire nation into inconsolable grief. What has really stunned me is the kind of emotional outburst seen from across the country. Even the political parties, cutting across lines, have united to mourn the death of a man whose phenomenal popularity most of us realized, albeit ironically, when he is no more.

There are two reasons which leave me (happily) amazed. First, a CM is basically a state’s leader only. Unless an incumbent harbours the national politics ambitions, he/she is confined to the geographical limits of the area under his/her jurisdiction. YSR, in my view, confined himself to this role. Still, his death shows that he had a taller stature, one which went beyond the person of a chief minister. Second, the Indian political jamboree does not believe in praising opponents. Almost all parties show a penchant for this (unacceptable) practice. Hence, the kind of positive words they have spoken for YSR show the return of some mannerisms, otherwise grossly missing these days among the power echelons. I hope this becomes a permanent feature of Indian polity.

YSR’s death has evoked a response not witnessed in recent public memory in the country, especially for a political leader. One thing we can be sure of is that it is not stage-managed. The only episode that seems motivated is the clamour for his son to be named the successor. However, this is only by a section of the party workers who could be trying to justify their role of being the sycophants. Anyway.

We have seen this kind of public outflow of grief in the case of leaders who had a larger than life image, at least in the public eye. Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, MGR and NT Rama Rao fall in this category. But, they already enjoyed a celebrity status during their lifetime. And therefore, when they died, the reactions were on the expected lines. Some died after hearing the news of their deaths, some – unable to bear the loss -- committed suicide. The news of YSR’s death too has evoked similar reactions. But no such grief was witnessed when PV Narsimha Rao or KR Naraynan passed away. The former served as the prime minister and the latter as president. Both considered capable and held higher designations as compared to YSR. But, even though in death, YSR has surpassed their stature in terms of mass following. He rose from the roots and seemed to have carved a niche for himself by slow but steady strides.

I myself never had the idea that he was so overwhelmingly popular, not just in his home state but in other parts of the country as well. I never followed him so closely to be able to form an assessment of his work or to shower panegyrics on him. But then, I cannot also afford to miss the void and the mass hysteria generated by his sudden demise. What I understand is that while Andhra is mourning the irreparable loss of a man who was a PERFORMER, the nation is disheartened over having lost a promising FUTURE LEADER. We may be a billion plus country, but there is dearth of politicians who can be bracketed as ‘Leaders’ in the real sense. We have already lost some promising ones in the likes of Madhav Rao Scindia, Rajesh Pilot and Pramod Mahajan. And now, with YSR gone, the vacuum is being felt all the more since all of them had long political innings to play, but were taken away abruptly.

YSR’s tragic departure, however, proves one point to the hilt. A leader who performs would always be loved, respected and remembered by the people. It is not that he was a perfect politician or was controversy-free. In fact, his name figured in the Satyam scam as well. The allegations could be true or completely baseless. But, YSR’s legacy would be his constant urge to put AP on development path. He showed the instincts of a leader who wanted to connect with the people. How many leaders show this ability in India? Andhra is a big state and one does not get a second term there so easily. That the public gave him a second term shows they had reposed their faith in him. May be in the coming years, he could have played a role in the national politics as well.

Like many, I’m also saddened by his death because it seems once again we have lost a promising national leader to the Master sitting above. In present times, our only consolation could be if some politicians begin to follow the footprints of YSR.