Lessons

28 Jul
Everyone raves about the wonders of a well-gifted intellect, the marvels of the mind, the beauty of education and so on. As you climb the intellectual ladder, you add on to your repertoire of knowledge. They say. I love being in a class. I love learning. I love having meaningful conversations that are loaded with substance and not chaff. A great intellect is such a turn on, even. To me at least. Knowledge is something one can never really have enough of. Never.


I’ve always been the girl you’d find at the library than on a sports field. You’d find me lost in the pages of a book than in the minutes of a sprint. There is something about learning, about reading and about engaging with a topic that just bowls me over. It matters that much to me. Sports and the way my hair looked never really took precedence. Even today.


Similarly, I always imagined settling down with an intellectual. I spun a lovely dreamworld cushy with long conversations munched on over numerous cups of tea and durees. I dreamed of snug hours spent in silence as he and I would pore over books and mango tea. With a dog. And big french windows. With sheer curtains for just the right amount of light. There would be books of all sizes and on all topics right next to my bed, in neat but somewhat haphazard piles. My books would range from wild love stories to biographies to cooking to photography to comics to mind-blowing fiction. His pile would be books stolen from mine. And maybe a Calvin and Hobbes. Or Asterix, better. There would be coasters with stains of our favourite mugs. My house would smell of books, my life would smell of words and stories. 


I don’t know about that anymore. I used to call myself an intellectual and with such pride. I’m not so sure about that anymore. Yes, I am all of the above and more, but today, for the first time in my life, I didn’t imagine another intellectual to be by my side. Maybe it’s because I’ve become so cynical about this entire concept of intellectualism thanks to the examples our country is flooded with. And given how my experiences with many of them have been, the last thing I really need is to be with another one. I realize that I shouldn’t make such generalizations based on these past events, but one’s got to be realistic and careful, more so.


As much as I love the intellect and it’s sheer beauty, a part of me has slowly (and at a now faster pace) started to shirk it away. Or perhaps I’ve started pushing aside the people who have this nasty habit of glorifying it. 


We complicate things with words and rationales. We refine our experiences with so many theories and possibilities that we forget what it really felt like to be in that situation – in all its rawness and nudity. We walk so far away from what we’re really going through because we ornate our life with so much that is unnecessary and fake, for most part of it. We bring it up a lot during counseling where one is asked to feel and not think/explain. And it’s close to impossible because something that is otherwise so natural and effortless has now become something that is we struggle to even discover.


I look at the man who gives us flowers every day, playing with his son at this hour of the night. There’s nothing else in the father and son’s world than pinching each other’s cheeks. They’re not hustling over lost business or left over garlands or the fact that prices have risen which probably makes their meals harder to come by. Poo Selvan plays with his son, Poo Arasan (Flower King) and that’s all that matters. It’s him and his prince and his kingdom of flowers that spans his chair and cart. He will soon wrap up for the day, take his wobbly moped, eat his dinner, and keep the flowers ready for tomorrow’s sale. He will come home tomorrow and deliver the jasmine mala. He will go about his day. And I will find them at their cart, lost in their kingdom of games and strings of flowers.


We will worry about the bill(s) we have to pay. We will worry about the work we have left for the day. We will ponder over when our salary would already just get here. We will think about why petrol prices are so high. We will think of home loans and insurance. We will think of another degree. We will think of human rights and animal rights and Dow Chemicals at the Olympics. We will conceal our acne, do our hair a million times and we will wonder how many unnecessary calories we’ve consumed. You can add to this list.


Somewhere in the night, there is a Flower King ready to retire in his kingdom. And all he thinks about is delivering those flowers fresh tomorrow without expecting that Parle G biscuit or Alphenlibe lollipop in return. He will not know. He will not expect. He will sleep a happy, fragrant sleep in his huge 1 room kingdom with his parents for walls.
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