It was early in the morning, ‘Brahmi Muhurta’ as the ancients called 3:30am. That was the time when devout men and women woke up. If there was a river or a pond nearby they went straight for a dip irrespective of whether it was summer, winter or monsoon. They chanted various shlokas, Vedic mantras, worshipped all types of supernatural beings and recalled their ancestors whose genes appeared and reappeared in them.
They waited till the first rays of the Sun gently kissed the sleepy Bhoodevi — Mother Earth (by the way, when does Lady Earth sleep?) and offered the life-giving Sun, the Soorya Bhagwan, handfuls of water, arghyam. They called and prayed “Oh Savitru, inspire in all of us conscious knowledge!’
My unlettered grandmother told me all this when I was a child. But today’s world never sleeps or sleeps on its own terms. Many a great politician can sleep anywhere any time, while others belonging to the Super and Celebrity Classes always sleep over matters not concerning them.
Hundred and ten times have I firmly resolved, vowed and sworn that I will emulate my ancestors by becoming a “Brahmi riser” and catch the glimpse of the first sun. But what can I do? Being an important man (!) on whom the world depends so much, I often have to bother myself and others with several engagements that often run till the wee hours of the morning and therefore I rarely manage to pull the blanket off my eyes any time before 10 am!
But that night, on an uneventful day, I went to sleep a little earlier at 10 30 pm. No important events that changed the course of the future happened that day. I slept cursing such a dull day. I slept soundly and well, but the telephone by my side rang. I cancelled the call, but it rang again. Angrily, I finally lifted my mobile.
Etiquette prevented me from barking “Who is this?” but the voice was that of a woman. I heard her say “Hello, hello”.
I cannot understand who invented this word ‘hello’ and made it so popular among telephone users. I am so used to this word that my friends complain that even in person I address them with a hello… If they are Kannadigas, I begin with “Hello evarey”…
But then as I paused to hear without responding, enjoying this young female voice, the lady started ordering “Get up as early as possible and give a bath to Varsha and Nayan. Dress them properly. Fill their lunch boxes with fruits and drop them to school.
Keep all things in the fridge, especially the milk. You always let it spoil by leaving outside. Tell the maid to sweep properly. Don’t give her fresh idlis, yesterday’s rice and sambar will do very well for her. Ok, listen, make sure you get home by 7pm, you know the children have their monthly tests. They need to be prepared”.
Shaken, I sat on the cot wondering who this was. I at once realized that such a call could only be meant for a poor and at times wayward husband. The master of the home, yajamana as they call him!
The lady on the other side continued, “Can’t you respond? It’s me! May be you downed an extra peg yesterday. Maybe you’re still hungover.”
Then I replied, raising my voice, “Enjoying this free entertainment.” “Hello, who is this?” she asked in a harried voice, “It is me, who are you?” I replied. “It is me,” she said.
Both of us never revealed our identities. She must have realised that it was a wrong number she had dialed. Irritated, she hung up, but before doing so she shouted, “I have been talking to you for so long, why didn’t you say you were somebody else and nobody to me in this conversation?”
I lost my honeydew sleep but started pondering: “This me is Nobody too”
The entire world is torn between Me and Nobody. Our communications and affairs are between this important Me and that never-caring Nobody.
I got up as usual, pushed my body into my clothes, stuffed some food into my throat, drove myself to the office to press my fingerprint in the bio-metric something installed last week. Now I realise that I am scared of my own finger print.
As I was driving, to my horror I saw that the road was blocked not by the usual traffic jellies and jams but a big sign board staring at me: “ROAD CLOSED, WORK UNDER PROGRESS - TAKE DIVERSION.”
Oh … if Me should not become Nobody, I should take a diversion.
KE Radhakrishna is an educationist and the founder of the Sa-Mudra Foundation.