Saturday, May 29, 2010


A week ago, it was the plane crash in Mangalore. Today, it is the massacre of the innocent passengers by the Naxals. The TV channels show us the gruesome pictures, round the clock…; the newspapers bring us the same gory news just as we wake up.

But, then, all this will be forgotten in a matter of a few days. Then, that doesn’t interest us, any more. It is stale news. Something else comes… something more gruesome… interesting!

That is life, they say. And, life goes on! Public memory is too short… No one remembers for too long about any one, any thing. Hiroshima is history; Holocaust is history; Partition of India is history; the Vietnam War is history; Delhi Massacre of Sikhs is history; the Twin Towers is history; the pounding of Iraq and Afghanistan is history; the dirty spat between Shashi Taroor and Lalit Modi is history…

And, history is dead meat. No one likes to beat it. For, they know the dead meat doesn’t come back to life! Yes, howmuchever you beat it.

What about our ‘private memory’? Do we forget the pain and the loss, anger and the hurts so easily and so quickly?

Last week, I had to attend two funerals. Incidentally, both of them died in their late eighties. Both of them spent a significant part of their life trying to accumulate wealth, remaining stubborn and arrogant all the while with almost every one around, including their own children. One of them spent his last two years, like a vegetable, on the bed… unable to eat, move, see, talk, hear or remember. When he died, he was like a hard stick – just the skeleton! The other, spent months and months in the hospital, where his children – who never lived with him all this time - spent a substantial sum from his accumulation. Whatever is left behind, will be fought over!

The two gentlemen could not take anything with them. Nothing.

Our ‘private memory’ is not all that short. We hold on to our old hurts; we old hold on to our possessions… We remain arrogant and adamant. Yes, even though we know how fast the curtain is going to fall, and even though we know we may have to leave back, here, everything that we so cruelly sought all the while.

But, the TV channels are not interested in telling us about the two old men. Nor the newspapers.


Saturday, May 8, 2010


"Sir, I want my daughter to become a fine public speaker. Will your course help her?

"Sir, my son lacks self-confidence. Can you help him to be confident?"

“Sir, I want to improve my English... I want to learn how to speak fluently. Can you help me?"

The sir has this ready answer: "Of course, yes. I can certainly help. But… "

"But, what?"

"But, this." I tell them this little story.

Once, a Parish priest of one of the churches began to receive frequent complaints that many of his parishioners spent a lot of their time and money in the local liquor bar. Disturbed by this development, the priest decided to end this nuisance, once and for all. So, one night, dressed in his civil clothes, the father stormed the bar. He was shocked to see, that at least twenty of his church members were having a good time there, all drunk.

"Your shameless sinners," the Priest did not waste his time to blast, "Get out of this hell." He thundered again, "Get out, I said. Get out… Right now."

Scared by this bombardment, all the faithful, at once, got out of the shady joint.

"Now, listen to me, you useless fellows," declared the Parish priest, "Those of you who want to go to Heaven, come and form a line on my side."

Instantly, every one of them jumped on to the Father's side and stood there in a line... except one. It was our Johnny. The Father was surprised. "And, you Johnny," he said, "are you sure, you don't want to go to Heaven?"

Trying to balance himself firmly on the ground, Johnny quickly gave his response, "Of course, Father, I want to. But…"

“But, what?” the Father was impatient to know.

"But, not now."

For now, our Johnny wants to have a good time on earth. Why Heaven now? Let others go, if they want to.

Yes, "But, what?" they ask me, too.

I tell them, "But, this: Every body wants to go to Heaven... But, nobody wants to die!"