"How can someone live this way? I don't know when will you learn to live properly. This attitude of yours is the cause of half my problems. Don't know where you heading to?"
A big pause. Stubborn Silence.
"Are you listening? Or am I just shouting to the walls? Do you even consider me something? Only God knows where you gonna go."
Again a big silence. No movement. Time has come to a standstill it seemed.
"What is God? .. Mom?", uttered Ramesh in a hesitant but clear voice.
" I can not figure out what is wrong with you, beta.", spoke Parvati lowering her voice. Her emotions changed from anger to mixed bag of concern and frustration.
She has tought her son all the prayers and made him perform all the rituals which a Brahmin boy should do. Parvati was a married, Brahmin lady in the early fifties. Ramesh was her younger son. Her elder son, Nitin was out of India, working in USA. Ramesh, nine years younger to Nitin just got graduated in 6 years.Hetook six years for a three year course. Umashankar, Ramesh's father worked in a government bank on a good post in the not so busy city of Jabalpur. He had eight years to retirement and this was his prime concern. Parvati has taken a lot of care of Ramesh after Nitin left for America for his masters and then never came back. He sent money regularly though as his duty. Parvati could be considered an idle mother and wife.
"I know who is God, Maa. I know very well.", said Ramesh assertively. " I've been hearing and reading this for years. Ram, Krishna, Hanumanji , Deviji. They are Gods.", he stamped again.
Wrinkles started to draw things on Parvati's forehead. She was about to say something when Ramesh probed, "But what is God? These are just names. Aren't we just are blindly bounded just by a name. What ever the name is, more essentially we do not know what God is? Do you know mom?".
Parvati disgusted yet again by Ramesh's behaviour and attitude didn't answer and moved away to her room. She was tensed again. The barometer must have been oscillating if it were embedded to Parvati.
Ramesh has graduated this year only. He took six years to graduate for three years course. He was considered weak and not well. Umashankar loved him very much. He took him to the psychiatrists, doctors, councellors, pandits and so on. Nothing worked for him.
Ramesh was always given example of his elder brother, Nitin. He topped in his Masters in Illinois.Ramesh though seemed only interested in listening what he meant to and all other time he was like a wall.
Thus, a favourite phrase which Umashankar used to say to Parvati all the time, " Deewaron ke bhi kaan hain, par saabzahde ke nahin." (There are walls to ears, but he doesn;t have one.)
Yet another day, a chilly morning turned into warm noon. Ramesh still asleep. "When will you learn to wake up on time and offer your prayers." shouted Parvati. Ramesh didn't respond as usual. Parvati entered his room and argued to the silence of Ramesh " There are rules. This house is no Dharamshala. There are some rules and everyone needs to follow them. " Ramesh still acted as if nothing happened and slept. "You have worst friends I;ve ever seen a boy of a Manager make. You are friends with Chai walas, Paan walas, Auto walas and jhuggi people. They are the ones who are spoiling you. You don't offer prayers. Tumhe apne maa baap ki koi fikr nahi hai. Papa retire ho jayegnge tab kya karoge. Nitin ko dekho. Woh kahan se kahan pahunch gaya.", said frustrated Parvati in a voice which was cracking due to irritation and illness.
"Rules matlab aapke hisaab se jeene lagun kya? Kitabon mein likha hai ki subah uthkar haath jodo Raamji ke toh zaroori hai kya aisa karo. ", finally Ramesh responded.
He got up. " I woke up till late. So couldn't get up.", clarified Ramesh. " You do everything reverse. You people sleep in day. Devils do that. You know what our ... " started Parvati. Ramesh didn't care to listen as if this was just an activity that Parvati would do and he just opened his diary and started writing something.
"They were not fools. Our hairs have not grown gray in light. We say from experience. If you don't listen to your elders.." continued Parvati in frustration.
"Enough Maa. Ab bus karo. Aur bolne ka matlab nahi hai . Aap apne hisaab se jeete ho. Kisi aur ke nahi . Aap ke badon ne kaha. Aapko laga maan na chahiye toh aapne maana. Mujhe jo lagta hai maanunga main, warna nahi maanunga." yelled Ramesh back at her old mother.
She wasn't the one who would give up. After all she had fought all those years to bring up Ramesh and Nitin scrificing all her dreams and desires. " Bade ho gaye ho toh kuch kamana shuru kyun nahi karte. Duniya dekho kahan se kahan pahunch gayi hai aur tumhe computer chalana bhi nahi aata. Tumhare karan hum kuch nahi kar paate. Tumhare papa aur main dukhi hi upar chale jayenge. Tumhare karan." she said. Ramesh responded saying " mere karan nahi apne karan. Apka nazariya hi tay karta hai khushi ya gham. Jo bhi hai mujhe doshi mat thehrao and jeena mat sikhao. Main jaanta hun mujhe kya karna hai."
Parvati really got hurt by Ramesh's answer and responded with tear filled eyes and cracking voice " Tum paida hote marjate toh achcha hota. Aisi aulad hone se na hona behtar hai. pata nahi kya beemari hai tumhe. dimaag nahi chalta tumhara. logon ne kaha pagal hai beta . Par main nahi maani. Meri hi ghalati thee.. " Ramesh got up, ate a banana and moved out , starting his bike. Finally some peace was restored. The conversation ended.
Twelve years passed since then. Umashankar retired from the service. He took some guest lectures in local colleges and got handsome pension. Nitin was back from USA. The family moved from Jabalpur to Bangalore.
Parvati was sitting in the Varandah of her big house in posh colony of Bangalore. It was evident that she was not happy. She rested and rested her head back on the top of the long armed British style old chair. She remembered the arguement which she had with Ramesh. As if a movie played right in front of her eyes. Everything flashed in her mind. ".... maani. Meri hi ghalati thee...". Then she remembered the day after the fight. She found Ramesh's diary in his room. She opened it. The first page had her sketch. She never knew her son could draw. She moved on and she read through it.
" o zindagi, is dil tale, sawal hain kayi unsune,
jawab tere pass hain, par waqt ki darkaar hai
ek lamha bhi mile, tujhse main ye poochlun
tu kaun hai, main kaun hun
tu kaun hai, main kaun hun.
koi kya sikhayega, koi kya batayega
kya kitabon ka likha, koi saath lekar jayega
ik kadam jo tu chale, tere saath main chalun
tere saath se main seekh lun
saath chalte chalte seekh lun
tu kaun hai, main kaun hun
tu kaun hai, main kaun hun
azad ho jayega, sab dard se bach jayega
ek se hain dekhlo, koi khushi koi gam ho
koi bhi ehsaas ho, tujhse meri guftagoo
dard se bhi seekhlun
main hansi se seekhlun
tu kaun hia main kaun hun
tu kaun hai main kaun hun.
and many such poems which he was poet of. Last page of the diary had her picture. She thought, her son did not love her. He never expressed. Beneath the picture was written, " Mom With your Blessings, I will be able to establish a School of Freedom."
As she remembered further, phone rang. "Radhe Krishna , Radhe Shyam... " her ringtone indicated well enough her devotion to the Lord Krishna.
A peaceful deep voice on the phone asked her, " Is this Mrs. Parvati ?"
"Yes, speaking. Who is this? ", she replied.
"Mohsin. I am calling from Mumbai slums." the person other side of the phone said.
"Ok. How do you know me? ", she felt something about Ramesh while saying this.
"I .." Mohsin was speaking when she interrupted.
"Is this about Ramesh. My son. Is there any news about him ", she said.
The phone got disconnected. Ramesh had left home the next day of the spat with his mother. He never came back. Parvati searched, Umashankar searched. They both went through a bad bad phase, and finally Nitin had to come to India.
" Radhe Krishna... ", the phone rang again. It was from the same number. She hurrily accepted the call and spoke " Hello ".
" Ramesh ... Ramesh is no more. He died today. If you could please come. Please come to the Mumbai. I will receive you at the airport. Collect tickets at the airport counter. They are booked."said the person over the phone and disconnected.
Parvati had twinkling tears in her eyes. She silently sat and didn't know how to react. It was so fast. She could not believe. News of her beloved son after twelve years and the news is of his death. She was shocked. But as being a fighter, she collected herself and took the flight to Mumbai.
When she reached at the funeral. She saw a big crowd. A very big crowd. She was surprised.
" Rest in Peace Amir." said a Poster. She asked Mohsin," who is Amir?". "Ramesh.", he said. She silently moved foward and saw Ramesh's deadbody lay on the deathbed made of sandal wood logs. She broke into tears.
Mohsin took out a piece of not and hand it over to Parvati. "He always had this with him. I didn't read it. This is for you. Your name written over it.", he told her very peacefully.
She did not read it then. After all funeral activity she came back to Bangalore. No one questioned her at home. Her integrity was her shield.
She sat on that chair again. She opened the note.It read -
" My dearest Mom.
Life is a teacher. One should learn from it only. I can not teach any one. All learn themselves and life teaches. We need to be free of all bonds. Once we do so we will be happy. Love is not for one. True love is for all. All include people who hate and people who are strangers. This is what I learned from life. To give true love is the purpose of life and its very basis. Love is only true if its for all and free from all bars. If I love someone I shouldn't expect the person to behave in any sort of manner but give love. True love is uncondtional. So it is for all. I did not left you for the fight we had. I already decided to leave that day. You may have found yourself guilty all these years. But you were not responsible. No one is.
I enjoyed my life and I will enjoy my death.
I want to share with you one thing. No one is superior or inferior. Knowledge doesn't hold key to happiness. I don't now how people preach and how other people believe it. I do not have any problem with that though. All men have equal brains. Then how can one teach other and say who is God and how to live. I always wondered. I lived very happy and I will die satisfied. School of Freedom was estabilished by my notes which I wrote as Amir. It does not need any infrastructure. It is constructed in mind. Freedom is the basis of love.
I love you, maa. I know Maa , the Way I lived wasn't the way you wanted. The world wanted. A psychiatrist said that I have less brain. The world accepted. I was not mentally challenged, but I was different. Maa, what is a doctor? My answer is one who learns what is set as standard by majority of people in the world and is considered to be normal. How can a human decide for other human if he is normal or not? I always thought this Maa. I know its all Messed up Maa, but whats the problem?
What is God? We don't know. No one knows. Still we are bounded by that name. Freedom is curbed on that name. To know God true love is needed. I tried and failed. I will keep trying.
At last I will like to shara a poetry written by Javed Akhtar,which influenced my life and thoughts initially when I was at home.
phirte hain kabse dar badar ab is nagar ab us nagar
ek doosre ke humsafar main aur meri aawargii
na ashna har rehguzar na mehrban har ek nazar
jayen to ab jayen kidhar main aur meri aawargii
hum bhi kabhi aabad the aise kahan barbaad the
befikr the aazad the masrur the dilshad the
woh chaal aisi chal gaya hum bujh gaye dill jal gaya
nikle jala ke apna ghar main aur meri aawargii
jeena bahut aasan tha ek shaks ka ehsaan tha
humko bhi ek armaan tha jo khwab ka saaman tha
ab khwab hai na aarzoo armaan hai na justzoo
yun bhi chalo khush hai magar main aur meri aawargii.
PS: Ignore typing , grammatical mistakes. I am half asleep writing this. :)