“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced” said the maverick painter Vincent Van Gogh. As we grow older, the negative voice within us seems to grow louder, constantly telling us “Don’t do this. You cannot do this. You will fail. You think you can ? why do you want to take the trouble ? why risk it ? What if………..etc.etc.” As a child, thankfully we don’t hear any inner voice. We are filled with curious questions, amazing ideas, beautiful dreams, inexplicable enthusiasm and a carefree attitude that helps us discover the world around us. More often than not, Education and Experience kill all of this, transforming us into so-called ‘informed responsible adults’ ! Unfortunate I would say, that we grow up losing such precious attributes.
Recently during a vacation to Nainital, a picturesque hill-station in North India, I experienced this ‘adult-attitude’ from most tourists. Most of the grown ups were reluctant to risk exploring the dark Eco-caves where one had to climb up and down rugged rocks and crawl like animals through narrow, dimly lit passages. It was adventurous and fun but only if one dared to enter. Surprisingly there were 3 categories of people eager to get in – children, youth and senior citizens. The middle-aged, able-bodied aunties and uncles were most reluctant. It was fun to watch children hop-skipping on the boulders and pleading with their parents to explore further, while the parents were visibly tired and cautioning the children not to hurt themselves. Most of them were content clicking away pictures and posting it to the world to see that Nainital is ticked as done, in their bucket list. While the carefree youth enjoyed the most, trying to wriggle in and out of every single cave, interestingly senior citizens who were strong enough did the same. Their attitude was ‘Ab nahi tho, kab’ (if not now, then when?) I saw the child in them – curious and carefree without a damn to the world, as if there was no tomorrow.
Similar attitude of most tourists baffled me as I completed the trek to the excellently designed and well-maintained, G B Pant High Altitude Zoo at Nainital, which houses several rare, endangered animals and birds at a height of 2100 mtrs. The climb is steep but worth it. Sadly I found most people sitting at the entrance, staring at the winding roads, asking each of us “Upar kya hai (What is up there?) Is it worth climbing ? Are there enough animals or just a few ? Is the Tiger awake ? Is the Peacock dancing ?” As if the Tiger exists only to pose for their photographs ! As if the Peacock displays its plumage only to entertain them ! I wondered how will they know what is in, without going up ? Seeing so many of them not even attempting to start the journey or giving up half-way, we had to motivate them saying ‘Just Go Up & See. It is worth it’. Here too, the same story played out – children excitedly spotting animals and most of the adults convincing them to turn back instead of reaching the top of the zoo. It was intriguing to watch this spectacle and reflect on the human mind which wants more and more comfort as we grow older. Less and less efforts. The lack of enthusiasm to find, to discover, to see. The fear of falling, the fear of failing. The lack of motivation to appreciate.
Who can forget these evergreen, powerful dialogues from the 1975 Bollywood blockbuster film Deewar ?
Vijay (played by Amitabh Bachchan) : “Aaj mere paas paisa hai, bangla hai, gaadi hai, naukar hai, bank balance hai, aur tumare paas kya hai ?”
(“Today I have money, bungalow, car, servants & bank balance….and what do you have ?”)
Ravi (played by Shashi Kapoor) : “Mere paas Maa hai !” (“I have mother with me”).
The mother dialogue stole the thunder. It made the actor immortal. The movie an all-time hit. These few words said it all back then. Say it even today. Whether in the film world or history or mythology or the present day tech-driven world, Maa or Mother (in whatever form) shall remain the most loved, respected, revered and immortal figure in our lives. Across countries. Spanning cultures. Encompassing languages.
Mother’s Day just went by. Bombarded by Happy Mother’s Day messages and wishes from all and sundry. Like any other ‘Day’ it has got as commercial as it can with cards, gifts, events, social media posts and what not. Even my driver, shyly offered a single rose to me through my son – reminding me that 12th May, Sunday is ‘My Day’. How blessed should I feel ☺
In my view mother is not a noun. Not a gender. Mother represents certain attributes, qualities and emotions that can be displayed by both a man and a woman. While from friends to family to strangers, almost everyone chooses to pay tribute to this wonderful being called ‘Mother’, the best and most touching one came to me a few months back from one of my senior readers about his wife, as below :
“Thanks to my wife, she keeps my morale boosted from time to time, from morn till night. I am not exaggerating. At this ripe age I realise how important my friend turned my wife / turned my children’s mother / turned my grandchildren’s grandmother / turned my daughter-in-law’s mother-in-law is. She continues to keep all these dependants in good health, happy frame of mind and develops in them the importance of love and affection.
Oh, My God! But for my being elder than her, I would have fallen flat on her feet and sought her blessings. In expressing these thoughts of mine, I am not just praising my wife. I can imagine in every household there is one such lady. Thus the mankind praises all the Ammas.” Salutations to the Amma in each one of us.