Wishful Thinking


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Those of you who have read the short story “The Monkey’s Paw” by W W Jacobs will be aware of the fatalistic nature of wishful thinking.

The Whites are apprised of the ability of the Indian talisman to grant them three wishes by their friend major Morris. They are also told about the sinister danger awaiting those who wish upon it. Despite the warning, the Whites wish for a sum of two hundred pounds to pay off for their home.

They get the amount the following day, by way of compensation from the factory where their son died in an accident. The devastated and bereaved couple is aghast. Long after the funeral Mrs White entreats her husband to wish on the magical paw to restore their son back to life.

The second wish brings the apparition of Herbert White knocking at their door. When the terrorised couple are at a loss about how to deal with the ghostly situation, Mr White wishes death on his son. The haunting story with an ambiguous ending makes the reader reflect on the power of our deep-seated desires to manifest itself in hitherto unknown ways.

In our country, we are often told that we must be very conscious and careful about what we wish for, because the Ashwini Kumaras who may be hovering around us may pronounce “Thathaastu” – meaning so be it.

So, sooner or later our cravings are likely to be fulfilled by the celestial twins and there is simply no scope to retract, because the wish has been granted. Therefore we are often told to think before we express our wishes explicitly, for there is simply no knowing as to when, where, why and how the desire is going to materialise.

Besides if the wish happens to be negative when we are in the clutches of self-righteous anger, we might speak in haste and regret in leisure if and when our craving comes true. I really do not have an idea how many of us who are familiar with the belief continue to have faith in the idea. Yet the fact remains that we must be careful about what we wish for and learn to go with the flow of life.

Unlearn and Relearn


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Great minds across space and sands of time have always agreed that the cornerstone of society revolves around how it responds to a situation. This, in turn, depends on the domestic, social, economic and educational backgrounds of its people.

An incident in the life of Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana, throws the spotlight on this issue effectively. Once, Valmiki was returning after completing his ablutions on the banks of river Tamasa. There he saw a hunter poised with his bow and arrow, ready to bring down a pair of cranes perched on a tree. Almost immediately, one of the birds was shot dead and its companion wailed inconsolably.

Valmiki was disturbed and inadvertently cursed the hunter for perpetrating a heinous crime. That, the expletive of Valmiki, the expression of his “Shoka” which metamorphosed into a “Shloka” is another story.

What needs to be examined here is the fact that as far as the hunter was concerned, he hunted the bird down probably as a part of his routine. Perhaps, he looked upon the cranes as his meat.

Valmiki, who had a violent past as a dacoit, must have behaved like the hunter very many times in the past. Yet, his attitude towards his way of life changed when he realised the futility of robbing others to cater to the needs of his family. Possibly, this enlightenment helped him to see the incident in a new light.

His reaction towards the hunter’s act precipitated as a metric verse, one of the high points of a culturally evolved society.

The contrast in the two reactions to the same incident also serves as a divider in the cultural quotient of the two men.

This incident also serves as an example to people who want to change for the better as sensible and sensitive human beings.

If we tarry a moment and retrospect, it will not be difficult for us to realise that we can weave woofs and warps of changes in the world at large when each of us ready ourselves to unlearn and relearn for the betterment of self and society.

Improve Quality of Living in Villages


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Urban India has undergone a sea of change over the decades. A little more than half a century ago, industrialisation beckoned to a large number of people from small towns and villages to shift to the happening cities. Cities welcomed youngsters who were barely out of schools and colleges with open arms. They established their families, educated their children, bought property and built their homes. The vast expanses of urban land were occupied. Satellite townships were absorbed to expand cities and everything seemed to fall into place. Thus the great Indian middle class came into being when the migrants decided to settle down in their second home for good.

But, the success and the relative comfort of the city dwellers as against their country cousins proved to be the thorn in the bush. More and more agrarians who were working hard for a pittance and their landowners who found themselves at the mercy of erratic rainfall looked citywards.

The innumerable job opportunities for the unlettered as the support system of the city to help it function smoothly, translated as secure salaried jobs for them and a better future for their kids. They came in broods from all over and occupied the nooks and crannies of the cities and looked forward to making it big or at least reasonably sustainable. Though their skills were limited, their willingness to learn and work hard for a living stood by them. And today, the second generation of the working class has proved that the speculation of their parents hit the bull’s eye.

They have been educated in English medium schools and colleges and many of them have landed jobs as  drivers, mechanics, electricians, clerks, accountants and many have even been absorbed in white collar jobs.  Quite a few have managed to clear loans, buy a little gold and build homes for themselves.

Millions of such people who have migrated to the cities in search of greener pastures have no doubt found the experience enriching in more ways than one. Yet the price that they have had to pay is humongous. They have embraced a way of life very different from their own. They have battled against variance in ideologies, language, culture and ethos and have come to terms with them without ado. They have been removed from their families and communities. They have even lost touch with Mother Nature in the bargain.

One is likely to think that the merging of the rural and urban populace would have happened over a period of time and must have helped the city that has sheltered and supported them to progress in a healthy way. Yet, the picture is quite to the contrary.

Contemporary picture
If one were to present a contemporary picture of Indian cities, it is likely to be uniform across the length and breadth of the country. We are riddled by a large population, pollution of every sort, concrete jungles, garbage and traffic jams — not necessarily in that order. There is a definite line of demarcation that separates natives and migrants socially, economically, politically, educationally and emotionally.

Yet these setbacks have not discouraged mass migration from villages to the cities.
The people who come in search of better prospects know that they have to stretch resources like housing, water, electricity, sanitation, transport among other things till they become threadbare. They are acutely aware that one of the reasons for pseudo inflation is the inverse relationship between demand and supply.

The other obvious reason is, there are not too many hands toiling away and growing food for those of us who are willing to buy them. Yet, these factors do not seem to deter hopefuls from making a beeline to the cities.

The Indian cities are bursting at their seams and are presently witless to deal with fresh onslaughts like dealing with rain woes, overflowing garbage, increased power cuts and traffic jams.

The only way out of this syndrome is to step up the quality of living in our innumerable villages. The government does not really have to do much on this count, except encourage entrepreneurs to establish their industries in and around the villages. Housing, transportation, communication and attendant facilities will follow automatically.

As for the ever growing cities, its population should be persuaded to take up terrace gardening, rain water harvesting, solar lighting and garbage management in right earnest. Only then shall the twain meet!

Power Of Positive Thinking


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Several generations of people across races, religions and regions have discovered the merits of the spirit of being optimistic.

Experience has taught mankind to sail through trials and tribulations with little else except hope. The power of positive thinking is infinite.

It has been proven beyond doubt that people who find a glass half filled lead a more amicable and fruitful life than their counterparts who find the glass half empty.

People are constantly rediscovering this strength and reiterate the essence through several means.

Faith in God, meditation camps, fervent prayer et al has proven to revive the upbeat strain in people. People from all walks of life in general are seen to be nurturing positivity in their lives and livelihood in some way.

C Rajagopalachari, the most commendable scholar of all times encapsulated this thought in a Tamil poem.

“Kurai ondrum illai” reiterate that one cannot and must not feel deprived on any count because God is there to guide us and help us to overcome obstacles, whatever they may be.

A popular Biblical parable avers the same idea. A man found a pair of footprints along with those of his when he walked across the sands of life.

He recognised the marks to be those of God who was invisible otherwise. Then he went through a rough phase of life, and to his chagrin, the footprints of God disappeared.

When he overcame the calamity, he complained to God about the latter’s absence in his life. God told the man that he had carried him through the catastrophe. It was then the man understood the omnipresence of Almighty in our lives.

Belief in a superior guiding force can instill a sense of confidence in mortals. It can give us immense moral support and the strength to overcome the obstacles of life.

In fact all religions emphasise on the importance of bona fide faith not only in God, but also in fellow human beings because it can fill mankind with hope.

When man is trapped in hopelessness, his good faith will rejuvenate him with endless hope!