Sunday, March 22, 2009

A forgotten page from that brown little notebook

I will respect my elders.
I will help others.
I will say the truth.
I will be a good human being.
Sometime in the late eighties. A school classroom. Charts with drawings in crayons hang around its walls. A stocky lady teacher with thick plastic rimmed glasses perched on her nose stands facing a class of six year olds , who sit on little wooden chairs and write the above lines in their brown little notebooks.

There is a child .The first bench. She makes the short children sit in the front so that she can see when they are not listening. The child writes down the lines too. Hesitant , unsure handwriting. Maybe a word or two is spelt wrongly. I think that child used to spell a being as beeng at that time. But he did write the lines.

I will be a good human beeng.

A simple sentence. A sentence that is made up of simple thoughts. Respect elders. Help others. Be kind. Say the truth.

Six year olds are innocent people. They believe everything their teachers tell them. That child too believed what she told him. That he was to be a good human being when he grows up. That child wanted to be a good human being when he grew up .

Twenty One years later , that child sits on the carpetted floor of this living room typing words you read now. He has grown up now . He studied his books well . Went on to become an engineer , then went to a good management school . Now works at a big company .

Over the years , he was faced with a lot of choices . And he made many choices . I don't know if he evolved , but he changed .

Amongst the trigonometry lessons , the thick books of software engineering and the prolonged lectures on service marketing , he forgot that sentence he wrote in that little , brown covered notebook that day. No , wait . Maybe he did not forget . But he did not care much about it . The world did not care much about it , either . Nobody , including himself , asked “Are you a good human being , as you promised once ?”

They applauded when he proved himself better than others . Faster than others . Sharper than others . He went faster when others went ahead . That is what matters . Better than others . . Being a good man did not matter much to anybody , and he believed it did not matter to him . He was no longer that child .

I have not been good so far . I have hurt people , I have said things which have tore apart hearts of good souls , I have been indifferent , not caring about who I really am now , who that child was , and not caring if me and the child would ever meet again , talk again , be one again .

But today , the dusty clouds have parted a little , and a long forgotten , once familiar sound of a child has managed to flow in like the first rays of a winter dawn. And the voice says “I wanted be a good human beeng . Why have you become this ? Don’t you remember me ? ” And today , the grown up man wants to listen to that child , and believe in that child , and be that child . Because after a long time , he has found a friend who believes in being good more than being better . Who wants to help a million hands rather than control a million people . A friend , who looks at the world from the selfless eyes of that child I once was , without the layers of selfishness this life wraps around us adults . A friend , who gives me a strength and direction , not by loving me , but by being who she is . A friend , who gives me the confidence that I can find myself , because I see a part of me in her . A friend , who more than being loved , is worthy of being respected .

The white cloud of simplicity I have found gives me the strength to try to be that child again , to realize who I really am , and to be good again.

I know people will read this . Some people who think I am not a good man . Some people who think I am not practical enough . Some people who think I will change , and probably would forget these words soon enough . Some people who think I do not have the courage to be who I say I want to be . Some people who think I do not know what I really want to be . Some people who would not understand , and will think I do not understand.

All I can say is , I know what this means to me . And I do not expect many to understand what this means to me . Thanks to you , friend , I am talking to that child again . I had some good people with me always , but before you came along , I had given up on trying to be who I really wanted to be . Even though I do not have that brown little notebook today , that page has not been clearer to me before today . And I will be a good human “beeng” . Maybe not faster . Maybe not sharper . Maybe not a winner for the world . But definitely a good human being .

~ To my many unseen , and some seen , friends here :

I know I have found the one I want to share my life with . I assure you she won't manage to make my posts any less stupid , but I know I will be happier . Since I have shared so much with you since I started this blog when I was 22 , I thought yeh to bata do !

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Aap Kahin Sune Sune Lagte Hai..

The other day, I was talking to this friend, who by the way, is the only girl on this planet who can mimic a dog bark to a scaring level of perfection. I am told she once bit her Office cafeteria manager because he refused to include Doggy Bones in the Office Lunch Menu, so I really don’t know to what extent she carries the canine tendencies. But that’s not the point. The point is that we veered off to discussing the Filmy Dialogues we have grown up listening to. Incidentally , me and her , both grew up during the era of movies when Kimi Kaatkar was identified as the epitome of Feminine Elegance , and seven out of ten movies involved kids who watched their ‘ImaanDaar’ parents murdered from behind Huge Flower Pots and grew up to murder the killers after several years of scouting Bus Stops and Dance Bars for them . I mean , you get the idea of the era , yeah ?

So , shuru karein bakar , lekar Kaamdev ka Naam ( Abbe ! Kaamdev is a type of Prabhu , maine internet par pada hai !)

1. “Main tumhare Bacche ki Ma Banne wali hoon”

I first heard this statement during one of the movies , when I was six . I vaguely remember some demure Gaon Ki Gori saying this to Pran , who , obviously , had this roving eye and tried to grab anything which showed any movement.

At that age , I had no idea what that meant , and I instinctively thought , “Tumhara Baccha ? But babies to God ke hotein hai na?”.

As I grew up , I think I have heard this statement being said to men such as Ranjeet , Sadashiv Amrapurkar , Amrish Puri ( On more than three occasions ) , and Shakti Kapoor . Obviously , everytime , the reply is “Gira Do” , but notwithstanding if the lady chooses to say ‘Nahi ! Main isse paaloongi , you Pig’ or a more compromising ‘Ok , that’s cool.’ , this remains one of the most overused statements.

2. “Tumhari Ma aur Behan Mere Kabze mein hai”

Now , I really think all the mothers and sisters of that era , went around tapping all the bad guys on their shoulders , smiling coyly , and whispering “Hey Handsome , wanna kidnap me , eh ?”

How else can I explain that towards the end of almost every movie , the bad guy called up the Hero on his landline ( It’s the pre 1991 era dude , don’t expect a cellphone ) , and informs him that his White Clad Mother and Young College Going Sister have been kidnapped and have been comfortably chained between thick pillars at some abandoned remains of some Haveli.

I mean , Yeh Ma aur Behan hamesha Kidnapping ke liye available kaise rehti thi ?? I mean , if I was Hero in that time of the century , and the villain called me up to inform about their kidnappings , I would have said “Abbe Shit ! Fir kidnap ho gayi !! Ab ki baar tu hee rakh le , main nahi aunga !! Tang aa gaya hoon !!.”

3. “You are under arrest”

This used to the director’s signal , ki bhaiyya , the movie is about to end , please plan to gather your water bottles , chip bags , kids , and move out the cinema hall before the exit gets too crowded . In short , Inspector saab and his gang of Brown Shorts wale Hawaldaars have barged into the final fight scene , have pointed their cheap , Holi Wali pistols at the baddies , and the Inspector Saab has quipped the line which is the dream statement of every policeman who has ever walked this planet – “You are under arrest”. The only scene which could possibly follow this statement was a shot of the Hero and Heroine kissing under an Overgrown Pink Flower with “Happily ever after….” Written at the bottom of the screen .

4. “Main Teri Asli Ma Nahi hoon , Beta”

If there was ever a phase when non-biological mothers flourished , this was it . Kids swapped at the local hospitals , kids left crying on the stairs to the century old Shiv Mandir , little babies found squealing in trash bins , you name the way to find a kid who is not yours , and it was in there .

The mother raised the kid , made her do his homework , combed his hair , taught him how to ride the tricycle , and then watch him grow into a fine young man . But then , as she gets older and older , and as she finally reaches her deathbed , she calls the young man , looks at him lovingly , and with the heart breaking mix of love and guilt , murmurs , “Main Teri Asli Ma Nahi hoon , Beta”

The hero sits stunned , not knowing what to say , except maybe “Shit ! Does that mean I don’t get all that property you have ?”

Ok , you know the hero doesn’t say that yaar . Movie hai . Hero Accha Banda hai .

To be Continued …( Abbe , TV Serial mein ‘To be continued’ nahi dekhta ? Come on , you expect a guy to spend all day play solitaire at his office , and then come back home and write all that in one go ? )

Baad mein aur likhunga Bhai . And haan , you contribute whatever you can think of . I love interactive blogging ! Sabse mast dialogue report karne wale ko meri left kidney ! Muft ! Wo bhee polythene mein packed ! )