Wednesday, 25 July 2007

The Deathly Hallows.....

So, here I am. And I can barely control the flow of emotions and thoughts filling in my mind. Voldemort's finished and Harry, the Chosen One, has won. But does that say everything about the last instalment of the brilliant Harry Potter series? Well, yes and no. Yes, because good has triumphed over evil (and that's one thing that should theoretically mean 'all you had to know'), and no, because that doesn't say anything about HOW good triumphed over evil. That doesn't say how MUCH good had to pay to win. That doesn't say how MANY battles, both within the self and outside it, had to be won. And that doesn't say anything about the breathtaking book this is all about: Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows.

Having finished the book in a blitz, I just can't get my thoughts under control. I can't decide if I should smile or cry. There's plenty of reason to do both: some of my very favourite characters (Dobby, Lupin, Tonks, Moody, Fred to name a few) died to make their (and this) world a better place. I cried inside my mind each time I encountered the news of the death of some Order member. But then, there's plenty to smile about too! One, Harry has defeated Voldemort, and this time willingly and with planned determination. And then, to my great relief, Snape was proved innocent and an indeed good and noble man. Dumbledore WASN'T wrong when he had trusted Snape. And believe me, o reader, that this is the first time I really cried and felt sorry for Snape. I always had the gut feeling that he was on Dumbledore's side, and I'm extremely happy that things turned out that way. That was the second reason to be happy about, though. The third, well you can call me a teenaged fool if you wish, is that Harry and his friends finally found a happy and carefree life. I can't express how happy I felt when I read about Ron and Hermione's and Harry and Ginny's marriage, though that was almost fully known to me by the time the 6th book ended.

But keep aside the emotions for the moment, and we shall return to them in due course. Because if you haven't yet figured out: Rowling's books are evergreen for the magic of emotions, of love and happiness, and the fight between good and evil: a magic more real than charms and spells and strangely-named amazing creatures. Look into the deep philosophy that Rowling has offered. The Dark Lord, who is the most feared wizard of all time, is a very frightened man himself: for he fears death. And he knows not what love and true happiness are. He knows only power and more power, but since when has blind power led to a man's rise to victory? What power is more powerful than true love and friendship and trust?-- things that Voldemort has never known or felt. And therefore underestimated. And therein lies his own fate written by none but himself. Voldemort chose to rush his own death, and he paid dearly for it. Think: true victory is not in conquering death, it's in facing death bravely and willingly, maybe if only death can set some things right. For once and all, can't we understand this deepest of messages? Consider how many Potter fans there are all around the globe. But how many of them have looked at the books this way: as an epic, as a Bible (I go so far as to give it equal status with any of the great scriptures of the world, and that doesn't at all mean that I've gone crazy!), as a guide to rule our lives? How many?

The reason why I think that this book is excellent is that it showed how even the greatest of people can be mistaken at times. How these people, almost superhuman in their nature, can forgive, trust and honour even the simplest of people. When Dumbledore guiltily confesses that he was once a deluded power-seeker, he has genuine remorse in his voice. He knows how one wrong decision on his part had led to his family's breakdown. When Ron gets impatient and leaves Harry and Hermione to fight by themselves, but realising his mistake comes back and saves Harry, I am happy beyond words. For true friendship can't be broken so easily: and inspite of minor and temporary differences, true friends can never stop being worried about each other.

And then when you start praising Rowling for her skill, her meticulous and fool-proof planning, combined with her capability to write such deeply, you can't help but rever her. Every small detail Rowling mentioned before has some or the other signficance: who could have done such a huge job so well?

There are certain words that remain etched in my memory.
Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure.

Here Lies Dobby, a Free Elf.

[Harry:] Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?
[Dumbledore:] Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?

And there are many more words that could make the list. So much to be said but so little time to write down. As a parting thought: for each Voldemort the world has produced, there always has been a Harry Potter, a Ron, a Hermione, a Snape, a Dumbledore, a Dobby, a Fred, A Lupin, A James............ Evil has never won for long, and never will so happen in near or distant future.

Real people have always been true heroes. If you thought that I read the whole series just to look beyond the mundane and ordinary world, you couldn't have been wronger. And I was more of a Dumbledore fan before; I can say that I'm truly a Potter fan now...

Saturday, 7 July 2007

To my blog visitors....

Dear visitors,
I request all of you to comment on the blog. See, if you don't write to me, I can't know whether I write well or not. Or whether I should at all continue posting. It's not a matter whether you agree or disagree with me on issues discussed here. In case you disagree and still post a decent comment, clearly stating why you disagree, I shall be happy to allow it. But I moderate comments that try to demean me or any person I regard highly. Note that: I don't mind if you don't agree with me, but I do mind very much if you are not decent with your language in disagreeing with me. And if people refrain from commenting for quite a long time, I shall assume that I am simply not a good enough writer. In that case, I shall either stop posting or delete the blog. No use in trying to post something that people in general think is not well-written.

To sum up, you can comment to say what mistakes you found in my way of writing, whether I should continue posting here at all or not, or jot down points in agreement or disagreement with me. I am open to discussing and debating, but I request you to comment in decent language always.

That said and done, I would like visitors to give all the three articles below a read, at least once. And then comment, or else how do I come to know what people think about my articles?

Thanking you in anticipation,

Friday, 6 July 2007

My friend of Misery....

Okay, let me say something about a man who has inspired me very much. A man who is seldom noticed or thanked for what he does. The chowkidar of our block of apartments-- my dear old Ramji.

Anyone who has ever seen Ramji (one can have a look at the picture that shares it's subtitle with this post) will wonder how such an old and feeble man can be a watchman-- naturally prone to be overpowered by some crook or petty thief. In fact, this thought crossed my mind initially when I saw this man, who walks rather slowly and spends days staring at the people entering and leaving the building. One fine morning, I decided to talk to him a bit. And since then, I have been increasingly appreciative of this man. To sum up succinctly, Ramji signifies simplicity and humility.

Old Ramji is a bald-headed man with a rather short height. His back is slightly bent forward, and the skin of his furiously red cheeks and forehead is creased into several folds. He always wears a very humble dress consisting of a shirt and a lungi, which goes with a wet gamchha perched on his head on hot and sultry summer days, or a totally absurd women's tailcoat to keep himself warm in winter. And as if that were not enough, Ramji is cross-eyed. Many people (including some of my fellow-residents in the apartment) wonder, often aloud (to my intense chagrin and disappointment), why such an old and feeble man, with a poor eyesight, should be kept as a gatekeeper. I have found no good justifications to challenge their question, but still I instinctively like Ramji and will never prefer any other young bloke as a compounder than this man.

All day long, Ramji sits on his cot beside the compound gate and occasionally wishes a resident good day with a smile as special as the man he is. A bare and nearly toothless grin, but with such warmth radiating that it pleases and charms my heart. Ramji has little work to do, as such. The only other job other than watching the people pass by, that Ramji has to perform, is switch the water pump on at the right time every day.

Some of us talk to him when we pass by him, and I make it a point to do that almost always. Still, I wouldn't say I know much of him and his early years. From what I've heard, I can say that he hails from Uttar Pradesh, and that he had a wife who died many years back. Frankly, I don't have much to ask and say to him, for he is utterly ignorant of things that one can discuss and debate about. I don't know anyone to whom Ignorance is bliss applies as much as it does to Ramji. So apart from enquiries on how he is, and if he has had his meal, I usually have little to ask and say. On days when we have powercuts, though, I have more time to talk to him (for lazy me doesn't like to study when there's no electricity, but prefers to venture out of the house with a torch in hand!). And on such occasions, I have often asked him about himself. But then, he is either not too eager to reveal everything, or else he simply doesn't think that he has much that I should know! Sometimes, letters from his native village arrive and he asks me to read them out to him. Those are delicate moments, because more often that not they bring sad news: the death of some relative (which needless to say, saddens him very much). Seldom they bring the news that some relative or next-door neighbour in his village may come to visit him for some days. That cheers him up, for he is delighted by the prospect of having someone at his place for sometime: a welcome change from his life of loneliness. Those moments when I have sat beside him and talked to him remain close to my heart.

Often, some local friends visit him. And on those few occasions, I see a different Ramji. A gracious host: I wonder how such a poor man (he earns just more than a thousand bucks each month) manages to entertain so many guests and friends. Sometimes distant relatives arrive and stay for days: often taking away mats or blankets that we had given to Ramji. And Ramji is kind and simple enough to let his relatives take away whatever small possessions he has! That's when I understand how rare people like him are in our society: in a place and age, where we are all trying to take away from others, here is a man who will go through some misery himself to help some distant relative or friend. And for a man, who has to live in a pathetic quarter (a 7 by 7 square feet room!), that's something noble. Often he has to go without meals, in order to save money to live comfortably (!!) enough for the whole month. Occasionally, we invite him for a meal, and donate something like a blanket, a mosquito net, or an old coat. You can't imagine the gratitude and love Ramji showers on us for help so meagre. And yet all this struggle for survival hasn't made him rude or insensitive. One thing: he has always carried out his duties very well and ably. There hasn't been any major thievery or robbery in our block in these nine years, and you may attribute that to the lack of thieves in our area or Ramji's strict vigilance: but this remains a fact.

At times, Ramji gets drunk and loses all his senses, lying on his cot and muttering incoherently. Do I blame him (after all a watchman isn't supposed to drink and lay nearly unconscious!)? Why should I: if that helps him forget his misery for a while, who am I to comment? I just wish that we had more simple and humble people like him in this world: it would be a much better place. As Ramji silently inches towards his inevitable rendezvous with the Almighty, it saddens me to think that I shall lose a friend. A friend I have grown to love and admire, but one about whom I still don't know much.

Now it is night and I am finishing this essay before I go to bed. In the silent and cool night air, a voice comes drifting in through the window. A hoarse and broken voice singing, his notes punctuated with a tint of sorrow: Om jai jagadish hare, Swami jai jagadish hare........