Thursday, January 29, 2009

Life's Painful Transitions

In reply to this post by the venerable James Joyce who mourns the closing of the landmark Premier bookshop in Bangalore, I wrote the following piece, which is (I hope) as evocative as his. It's all about transitions: how shops close and shopkeepers migrate, buildings are pulled down, friends/relations die and are replaced by newer ones. This is one is all about renaissance and the renaissance man I hope to be remembered as, some day. Any day!

"Wonderfully moving piece this, very evocative of my own life, the places I have moved to, the people I once knew and now miss, the countries I have visited, the colleagues I have worked with, the landmarks which once were thought to be indispensible.

"When my parents died I thought there was nothing worth living in the world. There was such pain thinking about their struggle and my acceptance of the inevitability of their death. It took me a long time to come to terms with the loss. The ancestral home didn't have occupants and descended into dust and disuse, the children migrated to far places, cobwebs invaded the once inhabited places, the courtyard was overgrown with weeds, and the surrounding fields were untended. No cows sauntered lazily in the field, no hens and cocks clucked or crowed. But new things replaced the old, new situation gave rise to familiar family situations, new friendship and enemity kept me occupied (a kind of balance exists, the more friends I get, the more enemies I gather), as did personal growth or the lack of it. I guess everything in life is in transition, always. We must keep moving, else it's over for us. If I go on vacations for a month and come back I can see the place change so much that I have to struggle to adapt. There's a new building that has sprouted out of nowhere in my locality, a tree has suddenly shed its leaves and another has sprouted new ones, a neighbour has suddenly become remote and unfriendly, a new financial crisis looms ahead.

"I guess all this is a part of life, a churning, a transition which is life itself. When I was younger and living in the Bombay suburb of Chembur I thought life will go on as I had imagined then, which was for ever. But now the old buildings have been pulled down for multi-storeyed apartments; new people, new shopping complexes have replaced the grounds where we played cricket. Sleek multiplexes have replaced the place where we used to watch public screening of movies - sitting on the grass or kneeling in dust.

"One thing is certain: a void will not replace the old, but new things, new circumstances and new communities will emerge. If your favorite bookshop is pulled down somewhere down the road, a bigger and newer bookshop will come up, all it would require is for you to change your perception just a little bit."

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