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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The Rough Cut!


It was long overdue. The fact of the matter was that there was a problem in that very part of the anatomy that needed the action which therefore had to be postponed indefinitely. Paban’s wife had been complaining a lot; that he looked horribly ruffled, the overgrowth flowing all around uncontrollably and so on. She understood his problem, but looking at him in that state day after day she seemed to forget the unfortunate fact temporarily. Paban often explained to her, ‘Let me recover reasonably well first. Then I’ll definitely complete the task. Rest assured.’ But, as is the way with wives, her taunts, despair continued unabated, Paban accepted.  
Paban also had a somewhat contrasting situation. A few of his friends always appreciated his looks in that state and exclaimed that he really looked very handsome. One of them even took a snap of Paban at a family event, and displayed it proudly justifying his assertion. Paban also liked the way he looked. He showed the photo to his wife, but she remained expressionless. He was not at all surprised by her indifference.

One fine morning Paban felt that finally that long overdue action could well be carried out. So he set out to the nearest salon which was quite well kept and air-conditioned. Yes, it was his heady overgrowth that needed a cut. One of the young boys there made him sit in the empty spongy chair before the mirror and waited for his instructions. Paban told him very clearly that the hair had much overgrown and due to the summer heat he was facing lots of problems apart from losing control in setting it. So he gave strong instructions to make it very short. ‘No need for styles or looks, just make it short.’ The boy confirmed it again, and then set out with his operation. Paban expected the normal scissors to be used as on all earlier occasions. However, before he could foresee any lurking danger the boy lifted the motored hair cutting machine, and applied it on the right side of his head. The machine whirred around his right ear, and he still had no inkling of anything serious. He was rather happy that the machine, used for the first time on his head, didn’t at all scratch at the head skin.

Over with his right-side operation the boy stopped and asked Paban to take a look at the mirror and approve for the operation to be completed. Paban picked up his specs and looked at himself hopefully. He was in for a great shock. He never experienced such a tormenting sight in his entire hair-cutting history.

The machine almost cleaned him up on the right side leaving, perhaps, only the scalp. He was furious; more so because the boy was asking his approval only after completing the horrendous action. He calmed himself the next moment. It was my instruction to make it very short, he thought. How could the poor boy know what ‘shortness’ Paban exactly wanted? Then there was the overwhelming fact; with his right side shamefully bared he couldn’t possibly go for moderation on all other parts of the head. ‘You have totally destroyed me, exposed all my gray hairs too. Why didn’t you use the scissors? In all salons I visit they always use those manual things only. Anyway nothing can be done now, carry on, dear!’ Paban said sadly. The boy justified the faster speed and efficiency of the electronic device.

When Paban returned home his wife was out on some job. Seized with an almost vindictive desire he very tenderly took a selfie showing his head prominently and sent it to her mobile phone. Prompt came her angry reply, ‘Why did you leave that much hair? You should’ve cleaned up completely! You birdy bald!’
As it happened a few days later Paban met his photographer friend concerning some work. His friend immediately expressed his shock and dismay at the sight presented by Paban. ‘How can you do this? No respect for appreciating friends? How heavenly you looked the other day…and now!  My good God!’

Paban always had this dilemma regarding his hair cuts. Some, prominently his wife and mother, never approved his long uncontrollable hair saying the overgrowth hid his beautiful face. While some friends, both male and female, always appreciated his hair, particularly when overgrown. Who is right and who is wrong, is the eternal question in his mind. Once his wife made a caustic remark, ‘Don’t believe your friends. They don’t want you to look smart; they like to keep you as an ordinary nondescript person!’

Till this day Paban doesn’t have an answer.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Why You Like Being Liked!


Like, giving or receiving, is the quintessence of life. Life can be reduced only to strife if you do not like or get liked; of course, such a situation is rare in most of the lives lived on this likeable earth. At the very beginning, meaning when you are born, it remains uncertain if you like being born or before that being conceived in the womb; the situation becomes murkier because most babies cry after getting born, and it is considered  a healthy sign. Therefore, we will omit the very beginning of our life when, in any case, we don’t know why that ‘me’ gets into a particular womb through some particular external source amid billions and gets born into a particular family in a particular place on our likeable earth, and focus mainly on the ‘likes’ generated continuously throughout our conscious life and why we always like being liked.

We start liking our parents, particularly mom, our food, our relatives, our friends, our teachers, our gender-specific entities, our bosses, various objects ranging from gadgets to books to schools to colleges to jobs and so on, and likes for us emanate from all such sources; because, our likings always generate a positive ‘feel-good’ factor that keeps us kicking alive. Therefore, in this probably ‘likeable’ piece of writing we’ll concentrate on why we like it tremendously well when getting liked by other humans or animals or pets. We will keep ourselves fully safe from any kind of ‘disliking’ factors lurking in every ‘likeable’ corner; that is say; we dislike being disliked at that.

At a very young age we feel energetic when mom smiles sweetly at us and encourages us to take the first steps in life, and we erupt into endless giggles which make the art of walking all the easier. When a father likes our hand-written alphabets we feel so happy that we start making more efforts to produce more beautiful letters. Our mom looks heavenly when we make no bones about food and start taking healthy mouthfuls, and it makes us so joyful that we make a vow to always make her happy. When our class teacher smiles looking at our homework and utters his/her likes this very act makes us all the more striving students. When our friends like our birthday presents or other gifts we become better friends. On the playground as some of us show our unique expertise or intelligence our team building spirit gets a fillip.

In the various other more mature stages of life the voluminous story of ‘getting liked’ becomes more elaborate, productive and infectious, a bit too much for this writer’s comfort, and therefore, we will mention only a few significant situations. Examiner likes your answers, teacher announces, amid heavy tension, the marks obtained, and if you get the highest or very good marks you get enthralled and grateful; if you happen to exchange looks with members of the opposite gender, and those looks convert into smiles or talks you get an adrenaline charge, and teasing from your friends makes it all the more enjoyable, of course, sometimes a ‘like’ becomes ‘love’ which is, however, not included in this presentation; a faceless examiner somewhere gives you good marks for your answer paper for a job, you get a call for interview, interviewers like your personality and you get the job, and this makes you the happiest person in life; it is assumed you immensely like your spouse, and if the spouse gives back that ‘like’ or ‘love’ you find your life worth living; when your boss likes your works and recommends a promotion you are in the seventh heaven with insatiable energy and in the ensuing family life of being a father, being an uncle, being in-laws, being a grandfather and so on an expansive series of ‘likes’ get generated that keep you happy and happier. There could be many other situations when your creative contributions get liked and you become famous, through a delightful web of likes. Then, of course, there are the festivals, parties, get-togethers, family re-unions and the like where the likes generated are huge and deliciously infectious.

This ‘probably likeable’ piece would remain incomplete if we exclude the social media of today’s digital world from our purview. Well, in the social media there is a cut-throat competition for generating and devouring ‘likes’. If your post gets less than double-digit likes you normally won’t become unhappy, but will try better posts; more than ten likes will make you considerably happy and if you hit a century of likes you get charged up and ‘viral’ is the last word for your limitless like-generated happiness. However, there are certain unwritten rules for performing well in the social media—that you’ll have to be hyperactive on a continued basis, and you’ll have to like others a lot to generate likes for you. Therefore, a social media dictum emerges—like and get liked.

We have seen clearly how a like makes us happy at every stage of our life, and it is the best thing God has given us. We have not mentioned the word ‘appreciation’ which is also the best possible expression of positivity, because appreciation normally follows a like, in most of the situations. So we can look forward to having a species of ‘like-minded’ humans which can only be a good development on this suffering planet earth. There is also no harm to generalize the dictum evolving in the social media. Like and get liked. Happiness guaranteed.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Fade In, Fade Out...!—Part-6


My mind raging I look around aimlessly. My wife is sitting quietly beside me fiddling with her mobile phone, reclining against the hard back rest. Suddenly, my mind concentrates on our present situation. How long we had been sitting there? Did I doze off there for some time? If it happened like that did I dream about all the recent happenings? But how could that be; because we do not understand our present situation nor we know about our purpose of being there. And then, if indeed I dreamed had I woken up now? There is no way I could be sure of my wakefulness.                                                      
In a bid to bring about my deemed wakefulness I start pinching myself hard and harder, try shaking up my hands and legs; but nothing happens. Is this then an out-of-the-body experience? If it is so, then where is my existential body? I can still look at my physical self positioned there with my physical, seemingly, wife by my side. However, as I just narrated I am unable to get my body back to the deemed reality—by pinching, shaking up or lifting my body parts. At a sudden thought I try to touch my mobile phone tucked  in my pocket, and lo, I could still take it out and look at it; but I cannot dial any number or don’t remember any number. A scary thought creeps into my mind at that point of time.

Few years back I read a thrilling supernatural novel where the protagonist tried the out-of-the-body experience, and he succeeded in doing so. He was having a great time moving around like a wavy tuft of air seeing and meeting all kinds of characters without the earthly touch. All well so far for him as per the novel; but when the protagonist had had enough and wanted to re-enter his body he failed to do so. He was really getting desperate, looking for all kinds of possible solutions. To my consternation I can no longer remember how he got back into his body in the novel.

Am I in a similar kind of situation? Sense of trepidation rising within me I try to cough up an earthly conversation with unusually quiet wife—smiling at her, cajoling and teasing her. A cold sweat seems to have accumulated all over my body when my attempts miserably fail to elicit any response from her. I then try to relax pushing myself against the hard marble back rest of the bench, and surprisingly I can feel my back touching it. What the hell is happening with me?

I now decide to get into a mood of surrendering, absolutely; giving myself up to whatever force is supposedly controlling me. Wait and watch; be vigilant and alert to any possibility that may finally convert me into a reality, I start thinking fervently.

Of course, hope refuses to die down. This cannot be so utterly meaningless. Something is bound to happen, for the good I suppose. Perhaps I am sleeping physically somewhere and very soon I am going to wake up and find everything normal and earthy. Perhaps not, and in that eventuality I am in for more adventures in my so-called ethereal self, if at all. Again, I indulge myself in violent body movements and shake-ups; but to no avail. I look at my wrist watch, but time holds no value or meaning for me at that time. I look at my wife; she seems to be in a daze. I think of God. Save our souls, oh Lord! I start the act of surrendering to Him all over again.

Hope trickles in once more. I try to inculcate it in a most positive way. I read a lot of books on powers of positive thinking earlier, and many times succeeded in visualizing situations that were definitely unknown to my conscious knowledge. I start trying hard keeping up that spirit. I get up, take few steps here and there, and again come back to the bench with my wife. There are lot of people, maybe passengers, moving around in the area, but nobody seems to take any notice of us, and I also feel no urge at all talking to any of them. Don’t know why. Maybe something real is going to happen very soon...

                                                                                                                  (Concluded. ?)

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