I have always liked flipping through yellow, moth eaten pages; the ones you have to be very careful with, lest they tear or break away from the parent book.
Background to the post:
Today, one of my best friends, a master chef in the making, had a luncheon at his place. We discussed Bridgestone tyres, Michael Schumacher, the JNNURM buses, the idiosyncrasies of an old lady wanting to stay young, auntie’s obsession with the current Delhi Belly jingle and almost every other weird topic that you can think of. The discussion moved to my current fascination, the devadasis in the Indian temples; during which I discovered that uncle, who was a connoisseur of art in all forms, especially dance, had researched on the maharis and devadasis and had an article to his credit. This got me into a flurried frenzy of rummaging through his room, which housed his belongings in the exact position as it used to be, before he left for his heavenly abode.
Coming back to the post, I discovered archaic letters and diaries stacked neatly, albeit with a layer of dust, in one of the cupboards, slightly cracked with a sliding glass door. Those were his personal musings and letters to his loving wife, which I deemed best to keep away. However, scrawled on one of his picture memoirs, was a verse which read Dec’94 and left me rooted to the ground for a while. I believe he was a man of innate sensitivity and profundity. I would also like to believe that the verse if shared with a wider audience, will fulfill its purpose of having been penned down. It goes it this manner: “One can fathom the true beauty of life, only when lived alone. If you share your life with someone, you can only experience half the world. However, if you do not, the whole world in its entirety belongs to you”.
Vivid flashes of the times spent with him, came back to me, with an urgency, I cannot explain. Needless to say, the feeling of just respect, will be an understatement.
Methodical rows of recorded cassettes graced the sides of the bed. Long playing (LP) phonograph records heightened the creative essence, so prevalent in the space around. Books on various dance forms lined the shelves, almost screaming out to be felt and read and understood. An invitation card for the opening of Nrityagram, the dance school by Protima Bedi, fell out from one of the hard bound books. As I went through the cursive text, I wondered what his thoughts would have been, while reading the same.
A gifted creative soul does not single out one passion in life and hence the multiple engagements he kept himself busy with. The genre moved to books on photography and various international journals on music as well. Various musical instrumentals, enveloped in dusty black bags, laced the corners of the room and bed too. On opening another antiquated trunk, I discovered piles of books, ranging from Animal Farm to Osho’s Golden Nuggets and The Autobiography of Jimi Hendrix to that of Beatles.
What perhaps will always remain with me, however, is a book by the name of Gitanjali. This wasn’t the one written by Tagore. The anthology of poems was written by an adolescent cancer patient, who has described the beauty of life, as she fathomed, through the window of her hospital room. She passed away soon after. A gift to his wife on their first anniversary, the message reading…May your life be as beautiful as these poems, in mirth and in sorrow! I was choked and almost in tears. I can best put into words, my feelings through William Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence” :
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour