From speaking to listening carefully
On this esteemed blog, we have often caressed—no sex pun intended—with subjects related to love and beauty. Those who understand love also tend to know that beauty fades with time, only for those who never understood love in the first place. Beauty is a euphemism for vanity because seeing (and believing) has become an ironic handicap for our species. Humans are bestowed with a pair of eyes that avails us images in the range of 576 megapixels. None of our smartphones come close to such a level of clarity. Understandably so, our visual perception is deeply flawed. We lay too much importance on appearance and too little on substance. To love is to see beyond yourself. That’s all. Most people think there is no love without beauty. In practice, there is no beauty without love.
What is the price of betrayal? I was thinking about this super-relevant question recently when it came to my attention—thanks to my penchant for plucking trivia from every nook and corner—the current value of Judas’ profound backstabbing. If you remember, he received 30 pieces of silver for betraying Jesus. Apparently, that money equates to somewhere between $91 and $441 in the present-day economic scenario. Can you believe that? A little more than ₹36,000. Pathetic bargain. What was Judas planning to do with those coins anyway? What was the point of betraying someone noble for so little? No wonder he couldn’t sleep a night after doing what he did. I don’t know the exact price of betrayal in context of the ongoing inflation but I can tell you one thing for sure: never sell your soul at a discount.
If you pay attention, everyone around you is only seeking affection. Deep down, they realize that they will never get what they want. You can see in their lives that they were never loved and as a result, they didn’t know how to pass on the love in them, either. This is simply how the universe is designed. The more you desire, the less you’ll materialize. Yes, there will be exceptions amongst us who will end up cherished, some might even end up with the “love of my life” for good and even dare call each other ‘soul mates’. [Related: In 2012, I wrote a poignant letter to my soul mate.] As a matter of fact, you won’t be hugged and kissed and touched the way you wish. Most of us don’t get what we think we deserve and that sounds horribly unjust. But here’s the best part: it’s perfectly alright.
Life catches up with everyone. But more so with pets. Your beloved dog is a part of your story for barely a decade. No matter how much you are fond of each other, a pet is destined to fall sick and then perish, leaving behind sweet memories and warm tears. I know this because I grew up in a house filled with cats. When the matriarch and her eldest daughter passed away in quick succession, I was so distraught that I fell ill and missed school for several days. Now that Ranga is growing slower and greyer with age, with lumps popping up on his back, I am reconciling with finality. A pet’s tale usually pans out with a surprise illness and regardless of your calm temperament, you are never fully prepared.
As a kid, I used to collect bus tickets, chocolate wrappers, stamps, old coins, superhero stickers, newspaper clippings of cricketers, and similar utterly useless stuff that was of no value. One way to look at this mindless hobby is our tendency to hold onto things, creating memories, adding meanings to material that has no meaning whatsoever. It starts at an early stage of life and seeps into our adulthood too. As of 2023, I am into collecting WhatsApp stickers. I employ them in the thousand or so WA groups that I’ve created over the years. Now, when you really think about it, one of the cutest bits about leading an incoherent existence is you collect stickers. Just like you did in childhood. Full circle only.
My amma, just like my ajji, is never dearth of fitting proverbs. She has an epithet for every possible situation. Whenever we discuss (read: argue) about my staunch stand against progeny, she will resort to deep Tulu/Kannada sayings. A recent introduction (to me) was "born a tree, don't die a tree" — as a human being, you are supposed to give birth to a child. It's your responsibility to nature; you owe it. A sentiment that I can still empathize with but I don't think it’s fair to create a villain out of trees here. A tree might look sterile and void but it takes care of so many living beings in its lifetime that it’s fair to suggest that it can relate to parenthood.