A PLACE AMONGST THE STARS
Coming year, my students Nikhil will be going to twelfth standard and Mohit to T.Y. B’Com. Incidentally, their parents had come to see me, yesterday. They had the same question to ask me: “Sir, what do you think, our son should do?”
After twelfth, Nikhil has many options… and, the same is for Mohit, after T.Y. B’Com. I have no answer to these parents. Options are always there before you… and in plenty. But, to choose what you want to do - is for you.
When I chose Commerce after my tenth, I chose it by default. My tenth marks were very poor, my awareness level was pathetic… and the state of my confidence… The lesser I talk about it, the better! So, like the rest of the ‘herd’, I found myself in this milieu called ‘Commerce’!
Needless to say, I was doing a bad job there!
But, even the ‘default’ choices are the ‘dots of our destiny’… They are all connected. I remember, in my twelfth standard, our English teacher, a Jesuit Priest, taught us Shakespeare… King Lear, Romeo Juliet and Julius Caesar. He also taught us Kalidasa’s magical play, ‘Shakuntala’.
And, I was bad in English… I had this heavy stone on my head called ‘vernacular medium’… and I was constantly hounded by the ghost of Inferiority complex. So, I remember, when this Priest taught us these classics with all his passion, I began to like the Subject of English for the first time… More importantly, a desire was born in me to learn English… to read, write and speak in it. And, I couldn’t wait anymore… I laid my hand on whatever was available around to achieve this mission.
And, after a year or so, when Prof. Raman came to teach me my Commerce subjects, the ‘Career-choosing job’ was done! As I have told endlessly in my past writings, Prof. Raman became my silent Hero, my role model… I wanted to be like him – a passionate teacher!
Did my tenth-standard marks decide my today’s profession?
Did my hardly-studied parents help me to do it?
Did my talents come to my rescue?
So, when parents of my students, today, come to seek help from me on this subject, I really do not know how to reach out to them – except sharing with them my own story. I do that, invariably with every student and every parent who seeks my help. Ironically, I find it helping!
Shankar Mahadevan doesn’t need my introduction of him. But, not sounding boastful of myself, when I first met him in my friend Sundar’s house, sometime in 1990, they were just out of their Computer Engineering College. Shankar lived in one of the very humble localities in Chembur, Shell Colony; and , when I met him in Sundar’s place, like a typical Madras fellow, they were sitting on the floor and having their blissful time!
Shankar loved music. He sang in the locals functions, in his college and he was liked by many. But then, what is the big deal? Every second kid may sing, dance, write, speak or play. But, what made Shankar what he is today?What made Sachin? What made Amitabh?
I really do not know.
After a month or so, Sundar ran a story in the ‘Young Achievers’ section of our THE BLOOM magazine. Yes, Shankar, our local boy, was just a fresh young-achiever… And, I was honoring him in our ‘Local’ inspirational magazine as its Editor!
Last night, my dear friend Ashok and his wife Sudha had surprised me and my wife by taking some special tickets for the musical show – ‘REMEMBER SHAKTI’ - at the ‘Shanmukanada Hall’. Zakir Hussain on his table. John Mclaughlin on his guitar. U. Shrinivas on Mandolin. V. Selvaganesh on Ghatam, Kanjira and Mridangam... and, finally, our Shankar was there with his heavenly vocals!
I do not know what to write about this experience… ‘Spell-binding’ would be just another adjective… So would be ‘Breath-taking’! The massive auditorium was packed to the last seat… and there were, in the audience, the rich and the famous, the young and the old, we Indians and scores of foreigners. What baffles me still is: how can a man mesmerize each and every soul by just running his fingers on a tabla or a few strings or just an earthen pot or an ordinary thing like a Kanjira?
Last night, John’s guitar sang! When Selvaganesh played his solo on his Kanjira – for a marathon twenty minutes or so – he took our breath away! When he was done, we had to stand up and salute his genius!
What is that so special about these men? So many play a tabla, and so many play a guitar… and so many sing – I dare to say – far better than even Shankar. Still, what is this, so special , about these men? Why every other man can not be a Zakir Hussain or a Shankar Mahadevan?
I really do not know.
All that I can say is:
the day you discover your talent –
that special gift of God,
you have discovered
a Gold Mine in you!
I believe, God has left
this endowment in all of us –
yes, one gift or the other…
He has left in us….
And, He has also ‘left’
for each one of us
to discover it for ourselves.
Then, I think, God watches us… whether we succeed in doing this discovery or not… And, if we do, He also watches us on how we go about using our talents.
Finally, I think, it is only when God thinks we ‘deserve’ – yes, only then just a tabla can produce a legend called Zakir Hussain… and a very ordinary local lad can zoom amidst the Milky Way to shine to be a ‘Shankar Mahadevan’.
“Beta, please look within you to discover your special gift, your talent.” Perhaps, every time I so passionately urge a young man with these words, I have a strong feeling that I have already found my own place amongst the shining stars!
That must be – and that is – my special endowment from God!
Pic.: VIVEK D’CUNHA