Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Baby are you down down down down

In the eleventh, N and I went to Calcutta. It was our first trip on our own. The next few days we roamed around the falling city, stayed here and there, got our pockets picked, watched movies at practically every theater we passed by.

After we returned, things started falling apart for N. Or that’s the way I put it because my imagination is stunted. His dad was out of a job, disinherited from ancestral property, they had to move out, his brother was an incapacitated recluse—getting by became this angry, insistent visitor who sat at your threshold every morning, waiting for you before you even woke up. The business of the house fell squarely on N’s shoulders. He dropped out of college, started giving tuitions, counting every penny.

More than ten years have passed since. N finished his twelfth somewhere along the line, a few years belated. He couldn’t do his graduation, hasn’t yet. Between then and now, he has taught tens of school kids, been in Amway, taught spoken English/personality development/all sorts of things to BPO aspirants, aspiring MBAs, all and sundry.

I don’t take stock of N when I meet him, which is every year and a half or so. I mean I ask him what’s up and he tells me animatedly—non-perfunctorily—and I listen interestedly. But that’s only what it appears to be. What I do instead is listen to the story of dignity. And it’s a tale that grips me ever tighter because everything he does is a metaphor. He doesn’t slog to pay the rent or take his family to Esselworld. He’s giving dignity a story to be remembered by. How else could we even begin to teach our kids about it? Without people like N, we would sound so vain and pretentious mouthing words we have no business bandying.

And the life-reassuring thing is that there are others like N. I know a few myself. What each of them inadvertently says is that it is never too late to pick a dropped stitch. It’s never wise to throw our fabric away, thinking there’s nothing more we can do with it. Because if we do—if we let ourselves believe that it will unravel to shreds—we just choose to exclude ourselves from the story of dignity. And that would be a pity.

I wish Gujja the very best for his first performance at Zero G, Residency Road, Bangalore, this Friday the 21st. Who would have thought.


Y? said...

interesting.Would be nice to know more about N

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