Thursday, January 10, 2013

THE BEAUTY OF COVERING



















My dad was a die-hard fan of these three: America, Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Muhammad Ali.


It was in the Sixties and early part of the Seventies; and, it was in our native town, Mangalore. In those days, we had no electricity in our house; and, though a transistor (radio) was in existence, we could not afford one. All news reached our dad through the local Kannada dailies, which he would read to the last letter, after his work, at one of his favorite shops. There, half a dozen men, including the shop-owner, would heatedly discuss and debate on the current affairs. Those were the days of Vietnam War… America, the Super Power as my dad would call her, was criticized and even hated for the Vietnam mess… 

But, not my dad. For him, America was the ‘Greatest nation on earth’… and, so it remained till he died in 1984… Her stories and legends kept us enthralled and inspired till his last day!

For some strange reasons, our dad also loved and admired, and was incredibly inspired, by Muhammad Ali, the boxing legend. Strange because, Ali had refused to support his country, America, on Vietnam issue and, eventually, had to pay a heavy price for it!

As I said, my dad could not have watched Ali’s boxing-bouts as we do today… live on a hundred HD television-channels, or our laptops and cell-phones… He had only one source to learn about the boxing bouts: his local Kannada dailies!

But, believe me when I say this: we, the little ones, were told at night, so amazingly, Ali’s legendary stories: why the little 12-year-old boy had taken up boxing… why Cassius Clay, a Black Christian, had converted into Muhammad Ali, a Black Muslim… why he had hurled his Rome-Olympics Gold-medal into the Ohio River… and, most importantly, how he had fought his mighty contests with his arch rivals – Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier and George Foreman  - He would recount all this to us with graphic details… with passion and fire… yes, mind you,  just by reading from the local dailies and from what he would hear from his equally passionate village-friends!

Muhammad Ali remained the undisputed Boxing-Czar – ‘the Greatest’ – to my dad till he (my dad) lived… Ali’s stories and legends lived till his last breath!

And, yes, there was our own ‘Iron Lady’ – Mrs. Indira Gandhi! He loved and admired her like a blind-man would love and admire the Miss Universe! Believe me, his obsession with Mrs. Gandhi never diminished during any time of her tenure – before, during or after the Emergency. I still remember how so many around us would hate her for the Emergency excesses… and how our dad would ‘defend’ her… justify her action… and glorify her!

Mrs. Gandhi remained his undisputed icon till he lived his last day… that was 2nd Jan., 1984. Little did he know, that his idol – the ‘Greatest Leader in the world as crowned her – would succumb to the bullets of the assassins in October, that year!

The stories and legends of Indira Gandhi were relentlessly kept alive by our dad… yes, till his last day!

What makes me talk about this, today?

Last afternoon, Yojana, one of my dear friends, shared on FB a small touching piece about Muhammad Ali. It is written by one of his daughters, Hana, and it really touched me… This was that piece:

An incident transpired when Muhammad Ali’s daughters arrived at his home wearing clothes that were quite revealing. Here is the story as told by one of his daughters:

“When we finally arrived, the chauffeur escorted my younger sister, Laila, and me up to my father’s suite. As usual, he was hiding behind the door waiting to scare us. We exchanged many hugs and kisses as we could possibly give in one day. My father took a good look at us. Then he sat me down on his lap and said something that I will never forget. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Hana, everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get to. Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. Where do you find gold? Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. You've got to work hard to get to them.” He looked at me with serious eyes. “Your body is sacred. You’re far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.”
Courtesy: Black Dads Rock.







Let me tell you this: my idea of sharing this Post is not to advice the young-girls to ‘cover them up’. Yes, I am very conservative when it comes to dressing… and, I would tell exactly the same thing to my own daughter (If I had one… and, if she would listen!!!!). That’s not my intention… though that’s a beautiful thought: men and women both are blessed with a precious body which should be presented with grace, respect and dignity. My intention of sharing this piece is different: I am amazed by the beauty of simplicity in which great stories are told… 

Like Mahabharata, Ramayana, the Bible and the Koran…

Like the stories of Greek legends – Oedipus, Hercules, Achilles and Helen of Troy…

Like Shakuntala and Romeo and Juliet…

I am amazed by the power of story-telling… and the mystery of their enduring legacies…

These stories touch our hearts, they inspire us… and, they have come down, this long, without the help of today’s Google and YouTube’ and a hundred HD television- channels…

These are stories told with great love, passion and simplicity…

I loved the simplicity with which Muhammad Ali has ‘clothed’ – yes ‘covered’ – his ‘precious’ words in the FB Post sent to me by Yojana…

I loved the simplicity with which my village-dad had ‘clothed’ his own ‘epics of yore’: America, Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Muhammad Ali.


GERALD D’CUNHA 

Pics.: Anisha Jiandani






















5 comments:

Tripti Sen said...

Sublime beauty in deed!!! Tripti

Vibha Rao said...

You have brought smile on my face. Thank you.
- Vibha

Anjana Dixit said...

Clothed with beauty and simplicity... You are a born story-teller, dear!!!!--- Anjana

Anjana Dixit said...

Clothed with beauty and simplicity... You are a born story-teller, dear!!!!--- Anjana

Reema Iyer said...

You can create beautiful stories out of seemingly insignificant things. Commendable! Reema