Oxymorons, Perspectives and Happiness…

•November 30, 2009 • 2 Comments

Sayantani and I have often spent long evenings wondering what Happiness is. Why is it so momentary, if it comes at all, and why do we have to strive so hard to attain it and then realize the futility of it all? I always insisted on writing everything off as relativity, but then, if everything is merely relative and a question of perspectives, where do values come in? Values-still have to figure that thing out…

I have found Happiness in the most unexpected of places-when listening to a frequently-played song while travelling along the familiar hilly road from Darjeeling to Kalimpong; while reading a beautiful piece on a middle-aged woman suddenly finding love and meaning in life through a vagabond photographer; while walking along the pavement stretching from Calcutta University to Bethune College and peeking into the dinghy bylanes and equally dinghy houses of north Calcutta; when surrounded by books-old and new-most of which I haven’t read; while watching an affecting film- at all these moments and also many other times, have I felt that undecipherable ache of Happiness and complacence in my heart. But then, ache and Happiness is an oxymoron. Maybe, that is exactly why people say Happiness is unfathomable and elusive…

Sayantani says, Happiness can be found in the most unexpected of places. I try to believe her, but haven’t been quite successful on that front. Yet, while watching Under the Tuscan Sun (a film which stimulated me considerably in recent times, changing my attitude to life and love) I was forced to accept Frances Mayes’ denouement. She ultimately found Happiness not exactly the way she had envisioned it, but through a wonderful set of friends, who sufficed for her missing family, in a renovated villa, which eventually became the “home” she was always looking for.

I sulked for nights on end, complaining that my Neverland would never come, only to wake up one day in the middle of the night, to realize that, even Neverland is not Utopia. It has its own share of trials and horrors through the terrors of Captain Hook. Narnia, the seemingly perfect place which stands as an antithesis to the bleak, imperfect, post-war world, has its fair share of fear in the ravages of the White Witch and the Telmarines, eventually leading to the end of the Narnian world. I convince myself that, if these seemingly-perfect worlds have their fair share of trials and tribulations, then it is only natural to have the same in this world, filled with lesser mortals like me. I finally realize that Happiness is not place or situation-specific. It’s there in the mind, waiting to be recognised and appreciated. I’m compelled to bring in the Nietzschian relativity once again and remark that Happiness would be precisely what you would want it to be. If you want happiness to be merely an illusion, well, illusion it is; if you want to live it, it is reality. My close friends tell me that I’m incapable of Happiness, because I only see beauty in pathos; and to honour them, I accept that, for me Happiness is (a strange oxymoron) poignancy.

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Of People and Firmaments

•November 16, 2009 • 7 Comments

Late one night, three-and-a-half years ago, I suddenly noticed that the night-sky of Kolkata is crimson-red. I remember, resting myself on the window, looking at the night-sky, thinking of people and places I had left behind, and the new ones I had met; I stretched for hours on end, till I crept to bed on the wee hours of the morning, suddenly elated and complacent.

With mingled awe and ecstasy, I informed many people-friends and elders, confirmed Kolkatans- about the hue of the firmament. Most of them gave me rational explanations about the colour, hinting on geographical factors; some blaming the weather; some the city’s pollution; others stretched their imagination to explain it through certain phenomenons of Physics; while some even said that my observation was entirely wrong. Unmoved I continued my night-time soirée.

Serenity in a metropolitan like Kolkata is short-lived and sudden. Silence suddenly descends in my para, just after midnight. My neighbours turn down their blaring television-sets; the lights go out one-by-one. I take my position, either on the terrace or on the balcony overlooking the road below. From the second floor, I get an omniscient’s view of the surroundings. Cigarettes; golden oldies wafting from a lonely old widow’s venerable radio; a handful of holy smoke; reddish hue above, hazy street-lights below; an adolescent boy mingling passion, lust and voyeurism; a young girl exchanging clandestine whispers with her lover over the phone; the local topper poring over his book; another one chatting over the internet with a stranger. Some sleep, some don’t. Another mundane, working day wraps up with a beautiful refrain- the night.