Perhaps the key word of existence of life is ‘relation’. ‘Web of life’, ‘interconnectedness’, ‘symbiosis’, ‘mutualism’ and such other similar phrases indicate the same thing; that no being can exist independent of others.
K gives me short ‘missed calls’ in my cell phone so that I should call him back. Either P or I talk to him every day. Our main concern is his health, whether he is eating well, not junk food but a properly balanced diet with fruits and vegetables. Fortunately K doesn’t get irritated over our same questions day after day and patiently replies, ‘Yes, yes’.
Now that he is away, P and I have resigned to our dull routine. We miss him all the time; the pain is most at dinner time. With every morsel, either of us would say, Aaah!! What would he be eating now? Probably Maggi noodles!’
The other day when K called, I asked him how goes his studies. He said, ‘Great! Acha, you see, I can RELATE to all this, you know? Suicide, Aggression, abnormal behavior – and in sociology, things like family, kinship – I can understand all this and I want to learn more. That Physics and Mathematics! Formulae and theorems! Whew!’ In an afterthought he adds- ‘You know, many of my friends who have taken up engineering or medicine did so just because their parents wanted them to. They are not keen on it but have no other choice. I am damn lucky.’
K is grateful that I helped him choose his course of life early enough. I think I must have started on the subject when he was in 8th or 9 th standard. Like most children of his age, he vaguely wanted to be several things and was unable to focus on one course. P and I would have loved it if he took after us, with wildlife biology and nature conservation. In his boyhood there were trips to the wild, bird watching and wildlife surveys. But his enthusiasm was damp. K is an average, normal boy and has never exhibited any eccentric or extraordinary talent in any particular field. Western music was the only thing he was keen about. But by the time he was in the 10th standard we narrowed down, not to what he wanted his future to be but what he did not want his future to be. This reverse process of selection was easier. Like – ‘Do you want a career in banking, like me, dealing all the time with money?’ ‘NO’. ‘What about the Army, etc?’ ‘No, nothing to do with physical violence’. ‘What about own business?’ ‘YUK!’ . One day he said, ‘Acha, many boys come to me talking about their problems and asking advice. I am kinda the unofficial counselor’. I knew he had a level head, but counseling at 15? But that seems to have been the genesis of his interest in Psychology.
I am talking about relating. Whether it is a matter of choosing future career or wife or friend, the key thing is to ask oneself – can I relate to this? It might be utterly unorthodox, cock-eyed – but if you can connect to it, whatever ups and downs you may have, you are more likely to flourish. Of course, it is expected that you should be sensitive to recognize this connectedness. Most people are able to connect to their immediate circles like friends and relatives, but I am sure even if it is for a short while, they too can connect to nature, birds, animals, plants and yes, even other human beings, of different religions or nations. You see, another word for relating is, LOVE.
************** Balachandran, Trivandrum 29.07.2010