Tuesday, January 19, 2010

THE GREAT SURVIVORS

Tamilnadu. When I was small, we called this state - Madras. My dad, though hadn't studied much, was a politically-conscious person. I still remember the heated discussions he would engage himself in, too frequently, with anyone and everyone he could. I first heard a name called Karunanidhi from him, amidst such passionate discussions. It is nearly fifty years, since then.

Today, Mr. Karunanidhi, 85, still rules this vast state. His political career spans over 60 years, and he holds the record of winning every election he contested during this long period. From the pitiable, dusty streets to massive express-highways, from the humble bullock carts to supersonic jets, from the silent/B & W movies to Maga-screen-multiplex experience... everything in this colourful state has changed, except this colourful man called Karunanidhi. I, sometimes, wonder: Are the people of this state not tired of him? How can they ignore so many young and dynamic men and women? What makes this man so enduring, and so endearing, as well?

To deal with my 17-year-old son, often, I find challenging. How fast the world has changed... with all the new gadgets and technology, the system of education, the exposure to all the stuff on the Internet, the onslaught of western fast life - from food to sex, from clothes to relationships! The kids and the young men, today, think drastically in a different manner. It is as if they come from completely another planet. Yes, at times, I do find it so, and, I am sure, I am not alone in thinking so.

And, look at this man called Karunanidhi!

On another side of our county, is this state called West Bengal, and that fabulous city called Kolkata, the 'City of Joy'. Calcutta of British became Kolkata of the Bengali's. Much has changed, here... but, much hasn't. The trams are still there; man-pulled rickshaws are still there; the Communists are still there; the Shanti Nikethan and Durga Puja are still there... and, above all, the legacy and enigma of a man called Jyoti Basu! I write about this man, today, because, he, too, like Karunanidhi, defied all the rules of this incredibly fast, digital world. Like Tamilnadu, West Bengal, too, is a state of highly intelligent, culturally rich, people. And, look, this state was captained by this single soul, uninterruptedly, for nearly quarter of a century! His political career spans close to three-quarters of a century! What an eventful life it has been! As if that was not long enough a life, now, his body will be available to the students to make use of in their studies. Jyoti da, will be enduring and endearing in death, too!

As one political commentator wrote in his obituary to Mr. Jyoti Basu, "Such achievements are tough to emulate, leave alone beat."

I am not very interested in Politics. I have never deeply admired Mr. Karunanidhi or Mr. Jyoti Basu, either. But, today, a thought was haunting me: "What is that so special about these two men? How could they survive so long, yes, even the two Atom Bombs? Suddenly, today, I felt every inspired by this phenomenon, this mystery, this magic. I truly felt, if these two men could survive so well amidst all the crazy change, why can't I?

That is a very colourful feeling!

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