A noted Poet Kedarnath, Jnanpith Award winner, has written a Poem; I am sharing couple of lines from the poem.
Aaj ghar main ghusa toh ajeeb drishya tha,
Suniye, mere bistar ne kaha
yeh raha mera isteefa (resignation),
main apne kapaas ke bheetar jaana chahta hoon
Roughly it translates to
“Today when I reached home, my bed offered its resignation,
Telling me it wants to go back to its original self (turn into cotton) or maybe go back to roots!”
Beautiful lines. The poet has elegantly explained the philosophy of life. I feel that our life and persona is made up of certain character when we are born; some of it we acquire later during our life’s journey. I am trying to interpret these beautiful lines. During our life, we achieve various things, we travel to different destinations, many people even look very different when they age. But I feel that from within we don’t change much. We all want to turn back into cotton when we reach golden phase in our life! It is wanting to go back to roots. It is trying to get away from your station in life, gracefully!
In today’s times when people migrate from their countries of origin, in large numbers, this feeling of back to roots must be pretty acute. At the beginning of life all humans are almost same, as babies; it is their growth that brings changes in them depending on their intelligence, environment and other life defining factors. Sometimes being at the right place at the right is also an important factor. As you grow in life, it may be as professionals, businessmen, doctors, officers, politicians. But inside we must try to remain the “cotton” mentioned in the poem. If this does not happen then mental clashes start, agonies start, when one’s time arrives, to end the innings. The mind does not accept that you are no more a mattress, which is a system, and you are not an important parameter of that system. You were good at some stage hence you became the mattress. Now you may have crossed your shelf life, your expertise may have become irrelevant, there may be better people available or the requirements of the whole system has changed. Or it maybe the your health may not permit! With that change, expectations about you may have changed. Good idea, will be to turn into cotton!
I will share how a friend handled a similar situation in life. He established his engineering business over a period of 25/30 years and was doing pretty alright. In the meanwhile, his son joined him in business. The son was also well qualified and trained to take over the business and was already 45 years old. My friend slowly started giving reins of the business to his son. But over a period, he realized that many of his employees would come and discuss decisions taken by his son, with him. They were trying to get them ratified. This sometimes led to minor tweaking of decisions. Though there were no major disagreements between the son and the father, sometimes displeasure was visible on the son’s face. My friend had a dilemma about handling this situation. One fine day he called his son and told him, “Look Son! From this month end, I will stop coming to factory as I want to retire”. For next six months my friend did not go to factory, even once. After that he started going back to factory; his old cabin was retained. But he found that hardly anyone would come to him to ask work related suggestions or opinions. How this was achieved; my friend decided to turn into cotton. He understood the meaning of this phrase “Turn into cotton”! Now he goes to office every day, gossips in the right sense. Just tries to understand what is happening but never gives any opinion. He achieved what he wanted to do using foresight, by turning into cotton!
Friends turning into cotton does not mean that you don’t do anything after you are not needed. Like Sachin Tendulkar is trying to bring in sports, as a subject in academics. He rarely gives any specific suggestion about cricket. He tries to use his stature to imbibe overall sporting atmosphere in schools, in different forums. In ancient mythology they discussed about Vanprasthashrama. I am not talking of that; but one can gracefully withdraw at the right time. Health permitting you can contribute in different ways.
I hear about some of our friends, who have lived for 45 to 50 years out of India, trying to come back to roots, trying to contribute in some ways. Some take time; a classmate of mine has come to India only once in last 45 years. Maybe he is an exception but they all do come back! You never remain mattress all your life! It is a simple philosophy but difficult one to digest! All good things have to end at some stage!
I found the couplet from Kedarnathji in a news item; Kedarnath Sing died of old age, only three days back on March 19th 2018! May his soul rest in peace! I know this is just a coincidence but now I am trying to get his book of poems to understand his simple but beautiful thought process. Incidentally, this couplet was mentioned by Film Actor Raj Babbar in a tweet he sent, on being asked to resign as chief of Congress party in Uttar Pradesh. Since it was mentioned in a tweet, it was difficult to understand if it was written in humility or sarcastically!