Appa was shaving, a ritual, he never misses thrice a week. I thought of waiting till he completes the entire ritual, which includes dismantling his age-old razor, washing it in a mug of water cleansed by 10ml diluted ‘dettol’ solution followed by his packing the razor in plastic box. There is now no trace of “Adyar Ananda Bhavan”, once inscribed on the plastic box. It happens; whenever any container, polythene wrapper or for that matter anything, before discarding, will receive a comment “will be of some use” and it escapes its entry to waste box. That’s the history of shaving set container of appa; someone bought some sweets sometime back and the container later got promoted to the status of shaving set box of Dr.Ganesan, Professor,
I suddenly recollected my childhood days with my grand parents. Grand parent have a great impact on a child’s character. Appa knows all these things and hence I decided not to explain him how important he is for my surya. I continued, “You have everything there; a big house, a car, temple, Indian neighbours and what not?” I paused for a second, “Appa, why don’t you understand?” I think he was waiting for me to finish. He lighted incense sticks in pooja room, applied sacred ash and vermilion on his broad fore head and chanted few slogas in front of goddess ‘Saraswathi”. The pooja room is a very small one, hardly one person can stand comfortably. Before my every exam, appa used to chant in the same pooja room and applies sacred ash on my fore head, saying, “The questions will be simple and you will do well. All the best my son”
I was firm in my decision. I want my parents to live with me I America. Whats wrong in it? I think it’s my right as well as duty to take them with me. How many parents in the world are longing to live with their children and are mercilessly trapped into old age homes. Amma has no problem in coming to
Appa is a great person. I have always admired him for his values and love. He is in the teaching profession for more than 30 years, yet enthusiastic about his profession. He is known as a student friendly professor and his courses are considered to be easy-grade course (to some extent it’s true). His philosophy is that no one can learn anything within a semester in college. His aim is never to make the student master of all the formulae in the textbook, but to induce a curiosity in the minds of students who can have a constant search for excellence. I remember, once he took ‘metallurgy’ course for mechanical engineers. It is one course which is unanimously hated by all mechanical students. But, at the end of their final year, more than 50% of students went for specialization in metallurgy. I always admire his principles, discipline and definitely his teaching.
But he is testing my patience. We walked across the huge old iron gates, the “
I found a nice old cement bench under a tamarind tree for me. I looked around. Nature is beautiful indeed. Nature never changes its style. The tamarind leaves always look the same, the sky, the water, nothing changes; yet its beautiful. How is man, who is bored within few months to see the same style of shirt, is never bored to see the same nature throughout his life? Is it because nature doesn’t care what others think and just remain as it wishes? The yellow butterflies came again, now forming different set of curves. Appa just said something; he said that the butterflies are free to decide what they wish to do. Do we have the freedom to do what we want to do? In my case, yes, I think I have the freedom. I can change my job, I can become the head of another company, I can read anything, I can…. , No, all those are the things I can. But what do I want to do? I started thinking.
When I was a kid, I was fascinated by my neighbour, Manickam. He was a bus conductor and my ambition then was to become a bus conductor. A bus conductor decides when and where to stop a bus. He has the whole control of more than 60 people at a time, and so much money under his leather bag; I was fascinated. But I didn’t become a bus conductor, why?. Because,….. because my parents wanted me to study well and take a good job in a reputed firm. So, I mean, I lost my freedom because of my parents? Well, not only that, all my friends went to engineering and how can I become a conductor then?. Does it mean that my friends indirectly decide what I should do? Oh. What about the society. I, son of Dr.Ganesan should not become a bus conductor. God ! The entire society has confiscated my freedom. Leave all that, will my wife vidya accept me if I’m a conductor?. So I’m a slave or a shapeless mass whose freedom is barted with my parents, friends, society, wife and the list goes on... I just couldn’t digest, but its unfortunately true. I’m not free to decide what I should do. The world suddenly appeared different to me.
Leave alone the past. I closed my eyes and thought whether I’m doing what I want to do at least in my present. The instant answer is yes again. I’m researching in a company in my field of interest. I’m happy in what I’m doing. Wait a minute, I ask the next question/ will I jump to another company if it is willing to pay me ten times more. The immediate response is ‘yes’ again. I’m confused; is my primary interest just money? No, I can’t believe it; but yes, I have to accept it. The inference is paining…. But money is important; I have to support my family. I love them. Ah ! This time, my love to my family has cut down the wings of my freedom. I was startled for the first time in my life to learn the bitter truth that I don’t have the freedom to do what I want to. It was too much for me to think. I don’t know how long did I spent there.
Appa appeared with a smile, “hey, were you bored”. He didn’t wait for my reply. He continued, “Do you know what happened today. I was teaching equilibrium. Suddenly Srinivas asked me whether any equilibrium exists in reality. I was surprised at his question. He said that he went through a book about universe and had learnt that universe is constantly expanding and cannot be considered to be in equilibrium. When the whole universe is not is equilibrium, how can anything within the universe be in equilibrium?. Forget the physics behind his question. But see his ability to think and link the universe to his mechanics class”. Appa continued, soon changing to Ramu, then Felix, Priya and he went on.. I could sense no tiredness in the seasoned professor’s body. Instead I sensed an inexplicable joy and energy in him. I think.. I think he is doing what he really wants to do. Yes, that’s the crux, he is not enjoying Srinivas or Ramu’s question, but he is enjoying absolute freedom.
I went home, had a coffee, amma’s filter coffee hadn’t lost its flavour yet. I sat on my laptop and composed an email to Vidya
We, slaves of relation, job, society, emotions, etc.. have no rights to pluck the freedom of others”.
I’m sure she will make nothing out of it. But I’m clear. I looked around. Appa was reading newspaper. Only his hair-free head was visible. I took the phone, “Hello, M.K.Travels, .. Yes,.. I need one ticket to Losangels”. I could sense appa’s surprise by the compression of aged skin in his fore head. I repeated strongly “Only one ticket to Losangels”.