Friday, March 19, 2010

THE ANGER AND SORROW

 The man who shot dead the young XI th standard student, yesterday, was a senior citizen, a retired customs officer. The girl was not a party to his anger... she did not belong to the family with whom he had picked his fight... she did not even stay there. Still, he shot her down.

What was his anger? His reason to kill?

He was angry, because of the civil work being carried out at the flat above his own. The work disturbed him... so much... yes so much that it made him pull his revolver and create a ruckus at the society premises... and, finally, kill that innocent stranger-girl.

The cops gunned him down, soon after that!

It is the death of anger... The end of ego. May the innocent and the ignorant, both, rest in peace.

Cops did not gun down Pravin Mahajan, even though he shot dead, in broad daylight, his own brother, his mentor - Pramod Mahajan.

What was his reason? His provocation?

Whatever they may be, Pravin Mahajan did not think he did anything wrong by gunning down his brother. He did not repent, regret... He remained in the prison... sentensed to life... He chose to be there, but he would not feel remorseful.

But, did Pravin Mahajan, actually, not feel sorry, feel bad for his act?

I think, Pravin Mahajan definitely must have felt bad, sorry. It is only that he was unable to gather courage to admit it in open. He must have battled this dilemma, this ghost within... pretending to be brave and self-sure... but, only to be crushed by the brain hemorrhage...then go into a never-to-return coma and, finally, succumb to death.

I seriously feel, had Pravin Mahajan openly, and sincerely, expressed his regret, his sorrow over his emotional act - the act of insanity - he would have survived... died a honorable man.

I also feel the same way about some members of Pramod Mahajan's family. They should have openly and sincerely forgiven Pravin. But, they held on to their anger, their sorrow, and their loss.

When anger and sorrow come together, it becomes poison. It makes some kill with their guns... and it makes some kill themselves.

Sin is a label. If I sin, it only means I have fallen from grace for a while... but not forever. I am not condemned to the permanent fire of hell. Every time I sin, fall from grace, I have an opportunity to come closer to God. I consider, sin is the passage I need to walk through before I can come closer to the gates of heaven.

I pray to God to give strength to that little girl's family. Lord, help them to forgive. I also pray to God to give strength to the widow of that custom officer. Lord, help her deal with her pain. Finally, the one's whose civil work had made that man go mad. Lord, help them to feel bad. Please keep Your gates open for all of them.


GERALD D'CUNHA

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

THE LEAP OF FAITH

The other day, when somebody used the word - 'Compromise', I was quick to respond: "Let us not use the word - 'Compromise'... That is a 'cheap', rather, ineffective word. Let us use the word - 'Peace'." I went on, "Peace comes straight... with out any conditions, with no strings attached."

There was no discussion on that. There was silence... It was profound.

That evening, I found myself speaking fervently, with all my passion and strength... but, it was all a monologue, rather a soliloquy. I was telling them - the fighting parties, the parties who were unable to find a breakthrough - this. "A compromise comes with doubt, with suspicion from the mind; peace comes with complete trust, straight from the heart. Compromise means, I am ready, but I still don't trust you... I may not honour my promise, in case, you... Peace means, I am ready... and I trust you fully... I will keep my promise, and you too will, I know. I know. I know."

"How do I know? How do I know that your will keep your promise?"

"Well I know. I simply know... and, I want to tell, loudly and sincerely, this feeling of mine to you. Yes, I know, you will keep your word; you will trust me, too."

"It is okay, if I am hurt by you, in the past... many times that is... but it is okay. I can heal myself. I would be glad and feel loved if you could say that from your mouth - "I am sorry". But, even if you find it difficult to say that, at this stage, I will say that now, "I am sorry for whatever hurts I have caused."

"I feel exposed, vulnerable when I say that. But, I alone know, I feel good, light... empowered... strong... clean...even 'divine'. I feel close to God, I feel protected by him. I feel no threat, scare... that you may go back on your words, you may betray me. Because, I have done my best, I have given my all; I have not hidden any cards from you. So, what move will you take? - is not my fear. What move will I make - is only my only concern.

"Peace is my thirst, my hunger. I need it like my breath. I will die - spiritually - without peace. It is my moral weapon; it is my physical guard, too. I need no advocate, when I my self is an advocate of peace. For compromise, I need an advocate, a broker.

"Between you and me - my enemy - there is only that wall created by our minds, our egos. How can a broker break it down? I cannot break the wall for you... I can for me. So, here I am, with the pickaxe and sickle, ready to break the wall created by my own mind... And, I know that you too will do the same, soon."

It was late evening. I could see the setting sun in all its glory going about his duty, The sky turned colouful, stunning... all this so fast, so peacefully... and so far yet so near. A sunset was taking place silently in me, too. So, peacefully.

GERALD D'CUNHA

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

WHEN THE WIND SANG

One of the most profound, and blinding, realisations in my life is that, the world will go on smoothly - very, very smoothly - without me.

This means: My home will run smoothly... The lives of my wife and teenager son will run smoothly. Even if I am the CEO of my Company, the Company will run smoothly without me. Similarly, even if I am the Prime Minister of my nation, my nation will take its own course, even without me.

Life is too big, too eternal for me to control. To think that I can change its course, is to be arrogant. Every thing will be fine without me... the flowers in the garden, the fruits on the trees, the animals in the forests, the children in the schools, the machines in the factories, the clouds in the sky... and even the smiles on my dear one's faces. They will all be fine; they will be taken care of... Life is all merciful. It will protect.

This morning, I, once again, felt anxious. I yelled at my son, "There are hardly any days left for your exams... Do some thing." When I sensed he was not committing, I threatened: "I will take away the laptop... I will take away your mobile."

Did it make a difference?

I had resorted to these 'ultimatums' after exhausting all other methods. I do not believe in threats. I know they come from our insecurities, our fears. I know the best methods are the ones where I make my son realise the consequences of his choices... and, help him, if I can, to make the right choices for him. And, then, trust in the process, in the Universe.

I am an important person in my son's life. But, then, his life will go on smoothly without my yelling, my nervous breakdowns. This realisation doesn't come so easily. Often, we have to hit against a wall; we have to experience nervous breakdowns.

Did my father yell at me, experience nervous breakdowns? Has my life come, this far, smoothly? Is my father around? Has 'Someone' protected me? Will my son be protected? Will his life go on - without my laptop and cellphone?

The answers are blowing in the wind. The wind sings: "It's okay my friend... It's okay. After all, it's all about your own growth. You can only 'argue' it's not so... it's son's."


GERALD D'CUNHA

Monday, March 8, 2010

THE INNOCENT WEDDINGS

It is close to twenty, 'long' years! That's for our marriage. The count down has started for our Silver Jubilee.

A year is a long time not only in politics, but also in marriage. I remember, just a couple of days after our marriage, my in-laws had celebrated their wedding silver-jubilee. So, for them, it is the count down for their Golden Jubilee.

Why do I write about this subject, today?

Two days back, Alka had come to see me. "Our marriage did not work; we have separated," she said. There was no hesitation, no sign of any sort of stigma as Alka made that confession. It was plain and simple...

I was silent for a while. Just through an empathetic silence, my eyes conveyed to her my feelings: "I am sad; it shouldn't have happened."

Alka's marriage couldn't last for even eight months!

I still remember what I told them as I wished them on their reception night - "You make a lovely, happy couple... Wish you all the best." Both of them had bent down to touch my feet... and I had blessed them through my embarrassment.

They say, "No body walks into a marriage thinking of separation. Every body thinks, it is for ever." Then, why do marriages crumble the way they do, now?

I do not know. All that I know is this: two people - almost strangers - come together, hoping and promising to each other to stay together in good times and bad times. But, it is tough. When times are good, we are willing to stay together... but, when the chips are down, we have no patience.

My parents and in-laws had not studied as much as we have. They weren't as ambitious as we are. They were couples with simple aspirations in life... too old-fashioned to think of 'divorces'... too society-conscious, too God-fearing (or, say it - Priest-fearing) people. They never openly discussed their marital problems... They fought them out behind their closed doors, they worked them out... they compromised, reconciled... They broke their promises, but soon apologised, made new promises... and they kept going, yes, in good times and bad times alike. Staying together in marriage - 'till death did them apart' - was a deeply embedded 'value' for them. It was a very, very important priority in their life.

I think, the times have changed, and they are changing even faster with a lightening speed. We have so many options, every where. Yes, in married life, too. Don't like it, get out of it... We say this faster, and we move on in life. We call it 'fast life' - digital, cyber... or, cosmetic or skin-deep, if you like. One goes, another comes. Sorry, the another comes, even before 'the one' is still there!

I do not know, if our children would ever talk about Silver Weddings and Golden Weddings. I do not know, if the Priests would ever insist them to make that old promise - "In good times, and bad times... I shall live with you."

The less I 'know', the better. You may yell back at me saying, "You mean, ignorance is bliss?"

I never said that. But, 'innocence' is. At least, in marriage.

GERALD D'CUNHA

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I COMMIT, BECAUSE, IT IS MY LIFE

Yesterday, a parent had come with his young son for admission in my class. "He is very intelligent, but does not study. I want you to motivate him to study, get a good performance," the parent told me.

If I am intelligent, don't I act responsibly? Don't I choose what is good and what is not good for me, for my growth and success? I am naturally motivated to do a task which I 'choose' to perform. My goals come from my own choices... and the moment I set my goals, motivation comes, on its own.

"Welcome to my class," I gave my hand to the young man. "Dad wants me to motivate you for study, to perform well. Do you think, I can do that?"

For a while, the young man was confused. "You can, but I must be first of all serious," he said.

"So, you have said it," I patted him. "You ARE intelligent," I pepped him.

Looking at his father, I said, "Sir, every time I take a student, I make a silent commitment - to give my best to him."

With that commitment, comes my dedication, my devotion to the task. No body needs to motivate me to 'give my best', no body needs to remind me of my responsibility. Commitment is every things... It is our personal bond to our own selves... perhaps, it is the bond that we give to the Universe to help us realise our dreams... Yes, 'our dreams'.

I have not come across a committed man who is failure in life. If he is a failure in life, it must be certainly for this reason: his commitment to failure.

To perform well in his exams, our young man has to commit himself. To achieve the same objective, I must commit myself to give my best, my all to the process. A marriage to succeed, the couple needs to commit... for that matter, no relationship can thrive, without it. A business can never, ever last, unless the man who runs it shows lots and lots of commitment. Yes, nothing in life - nothing - can be achieved without commitment. So much so, even a simple thing called 'peace'.

The father is committed to his son. Now, the son needs to commit himself to his father... and, I - to both of them.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A ROCK DOESN'T BLEED

If you kick a rock, it won't bleed; but, your foot will. How angry you are, how frustrated, how justified... the rock will not understand. You better take your anger and frustration in some other way, try to justify in a saner way. A rock is a rock... It has no blood, no life. You better understand.

I thought this way, just a few nights ago. A young couple, who stayed on the third floor of one of our buildings, was kicking the lift angrily, and frantically. I happened to pass by the scene.

"What happened?" I asked them. Being the Chairman had given me that licence... at least to encounter gently an agitated member.

"What happened?" the couple countered. "For fifteen minutes, we have been stranded here; they do this all the time," the young lady shouted.

"Who? What they do?" I asked.

"They don't close the lift door properly," the man replied.

"But, sir, the lift is down... and the complaint has been lodged...Any moment, the technician is expected," I informed.

"No, it was working just a while ago; it is the same old habit of keeping the door open," the lady argued.

I myself had followed up with the lift people, and hence, I knew I was simply arguing with this annoyed couple. "Let's have some patience," I said gently.

"What patience, sir? We have come from office, after a hard day's work... and, we have to face this," the lady yelled.

"I understand ma'am. But, the lift won't. You think, by kicking it, you can bring it down?" I registered my displeasure and disapproval in a more assertive way.

Luckily, they did not flare up. Instead, both of them began to climb the stairs. I heard them grumbling, though... till they reached their door on the third floor.

"It is just the third floor... and, you are young. Bloody, you must be ashamed," I shouted in my mind. I thought of taking to their house at least half-a-dozen senior citizens from our society who gracefully manage their lives in spite of frequent breakdowns of lifts. "They don't grumble the way you do... They don't kick, okay?" I argued in silence.

But, then, if I swear in silence, who will listen? A rock is a rock... It has no blood, no life.

The technician had set right the lift within fifteen minutes from the time the couple stopped kicking. Their feet must have been hurt badly, that night.

GERALD D'CUNHA

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

WILL WE HAVE RAINBOWS?

The greatest truths are the simplest ones. Not only that, they are the least complicated ones, too.

I have wondered, often, why some teachings are so simple, some dialogues so durable, some songs so immortal, so unforgettable... What makes a speech so timeless in its impact, why some movies stay with us for so long?

I heard this famous song last night when some one sang it. I couldn't hold back my tears:

"When I was a little girl,
I asked my mother what will I be,
Will I be pretty, will I be rich,
Here is what she said to me.

Que sera, sera,
Whatever will be, will be,
The future is not ours, to be,
Que sera, sera,
Whatever will be, will be.

When I was young, I fell in love,
I asked my sweet heart what lies ahead,
Will we have rainbows, day after day,
Here is what my sweet heart said.

Que sera, sera,
Whatever will be, will be,
The future is not ours, to be,
Que sera, sera,
Whatever will be, will be.

Now, I have children of my own,
They ask their mother, what will I be,
Will I be handsome, will I be rich,
I tell them tenderly.

Que sera, sera,
Whatever will be, will be,
The future is not ours, to be,
Que sera, sera,
Whatever will be, will be."

I do not know when Jay Livingston and Ray Evans had written this song. But, it was first enacted, in 1956, by Doris Day in the Alfred Hitchcock film - 'The Man Who Knew Too Much'. That was two years before I was born... And, I have heard it so many times since my baby days... yes, so many times. And, yet, each time I listen to it, goose pimples and tears just come.

I know the meaning of the song: "Honey, do not worry about the future... Simply honour and relish the moment in hand."

The irony is that, though the message is so simple, so uncomplicated, I still worry about my tomorrow... I still ask: "What I will be... will I be handsome, will I be rich?" I still ask, "Will we have rain bows day after day?"

The greatest truths may be simplest. But, not until I value simplicity in my life.


GERALD D'CUNHA

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

THE LOST COMMANDMENT

About five thousand years ago, the mighty Egyptians tried mercilessly to destroy them. Then, just in the last century, an even more merciless dictator - Adolf Hitler - tried to wipe them off, completely. Now, the oil-rich Arabs and their allies are hell-bent to eliminate them. But, they have survived.

They are Hebrews, the Jews. Israel is their nation. They believe, that they are the Jehovah's chosen people... and, their land is the 'promised land'. The Old Testament is packed with stories of how their God - Jehovah - spoke to them directly. He gave them the Ten Commandments to live by... Abraham, David and Moses are their heroes... and, they believe that the Messiah is still to come. To them, Jesus is not the Messiah... not the 'son of God'. So, their hardcore high priests found Jesus's preachings sacrilegious, blasphemous. So, the merciless clergy cried for his blood. They got him nailed to the cross, along with the condemned criminals.

It is Lent for us, the follower's of Jesus. Jesus was a Jew, a Hebrew. The Lent is the time we contemplate on the short, yet passionate life He lived. We term His last days as - 'the Passion of the Christ'. We fast, we pray and we mourn. For forty days, we do that... and, comes the Easter - the day of resurrection, hope. We go back to our old ways of living... till one more Lent comes. When that comes, we, once again, fast, pray and mourn.

Last week end, we had visited one of our aged uncles who lives with his wife. They live on their own and they are sick. Yes, they have lived their eventful life... and now it is just whatever time left... they try to live that with great dignity. As I was talking to my fragile uncle, I was thinking aloud: Is not the life of my uncle and aunt a passionate one? Is it not the kind Jesus would have wanted us to live? Is it not the real 'way of the cross'?

"I like what the Jewish people believe in. Just three words... and, I truly feel that is the most powerful and effective code to live by," uncle told us in his frail voice. "Humble, Helpful and Tolerant," he concluded.

"Jesus Christ," I exclaimed in silence, and told my uncle, "What else do we need to practice? Those three words contain everything."


GERALD D'CUNHA