Sunday, September 25, 2016

Monday Musings 270 - Roots

Monday Musings 270 - Roots
Many years back I had read the famous and controversial in parts book ‘Roots’ by Alex Haley which traces the history of an African American to many generations back to the wilds of Africa. The book had left quite an impact on me – and I am told that it had had a similar impact on many others since the time it was first published in 1976.

I had started to wonder how it feels like going back to ones roots – particularly when it is way way back in time. I had wondered how Alex Haley would have felt when he would have gone back to the same tribe in Africa and realised that he came ‘here’. (I was not aware of some of the controversy about the historical authenticity of this pursuit then so it was easy to be carried away by the emotional whirlwind about such a thought)?

What makes us wonder about our roots? Do all of us wonder about it in the same measure or whether to some this possesses more than others? What makes some feel so differently about this question than others? Is it better not to be touched by this question in the realisation of the futility of this pursuit – for what conceivable material benefit will emerge out of it? What will it solve ultimately except may be an additional to the treasure trove of trivia that we carry with us all the time?

However to others it is an important search – it is the beginning of the formation of identity. The ties of place, kinship, family tree gives us the overarching shade of a shared past – some kind of a banyan tree which helps us to feel anchored. We do not float unanchored – we have something to hold on to – for whatever it is worth.

As I progressed through the book then I could not help asking myself if there was a latent desire in me to search for my roots – may not more than a century as Alex Haley had managed to do – but may be fifty or 70 years. I don’t know what I told myself then but there were parts of the book when the travails of ‘Kunta Kinte’ the lead protagonist so to speak became so overwhelming that it was difficult not to be choked. I could not identify what was so overwhelming in that tale that was touching me in such inexplicable way. In hind sight I can say that the seeds to search my roots were sowed. I had to go back to the place where it had all began. It took a decade for it to fall in place.

An hour back I returned from the place where possibly a century plus years ago the family tree could be traced back to. I met a small one room mud walled – no roof ruins approximately the size of 100 sq ft of what is left of it. I am trying to make sense of what it means for me now that I have been to such a place - exact place, where once life flourished and which is in ruins now - and which in a very philosophical way is a precursor to my being.

Increasingly we are living in places where we were not born and raised. I wonder if we will miss going back to whatever we call as our roots – may be not a 100 years; but may be where we were raised and have memories of. I wonder if it is worth dying anywhere else. As a young boy I saw the anguish of not being able to die his ancestral village in my grandfather and could not fathom that emotion of his. Today may be I am just beginning to understand that. May be all of us have a deep seated need to connect with our roots – whatever they are; and maybe we just don’t know it yet.

One begins to wonder – how many variables come together to ensure you are where you are. It could have so easily been something else.  


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Monday Musings 269 – As I wake up..

Monday Musings 269 – As I wake up..

I ask myself - what is the first emotion I feel as I wake up? As I open my eyes and the slumber wears off and I become aware of being alive, not yet becoming aware of where exactly I am opening my eyes but only the awareness that I am indeed still there – where the weight of my situation has yet not burdened my soul. What do I feel in that few uncorrupted seconds? Not what is on my mind or what I am thinking but how am I feeling?

Do I wake up with a feeling of some kind of heaviness? There is no real reason to feel this way for everything is fine but the dawn of wakefulness is heavy, like the child who enters a dark room in his own house – he is comforted by familiarity of the house and yet discomforted by the dark.

Do I wake up with a feeling of dull alarm that the body intuitively feels when it is in danger which is yet not corroborated by facts but is palpable in the bones so to speak? There is no reason to feel this way for everything is fine but the dawn of wakefulness comes with an inexplicable anxiety, like moving in a wilds, the jungle – comforted by our abilities to meander through and yet acutely aware that it is the wilds that we are passing through.

Do I wake up with a feeling of weightlessness, a feeling of no feeling at all? I become aware of everything, my body, my surroundings, my situations and I feel nothing. I am here and yet I am not here. I am levitating above and beyond almost making fun of the mundane. I am untouched and detached. Actually detached is not the right word - detachment is deliberate, a conscious attempt to severe attachment; this feeling is a stage deeper – as if I never had an anchor or ties or reasons. Like clouds.

Do I wake up with a feeling of unadulterated joy – as if I feel like dancing the moment I become aware that I am awake. There is no reason to feel this way but I am almost looking forward to getting up. There is a zing in my being that wants to give life a fresh shot. I surprise myself with this energy even as I am only becoming aware of being awake. It’s like the mountain spring which is hurtling down the slope, with no purpose but only still being purposive in its flow.

Do I wake up smiling? I am smiling as the first shimmer of wakefulness is emerging from the dark abyss of sleep. I have no reason to smile but I feel like smiling, there is some vague happiness that I know exists somewhere deep down, in the acute realisation that I have more than I need, in the comfort that I have more than what I thought I will ever have, in the thankfulness that I have more than what many others have. I wake up with gratitude although in this twilight of wakefulness and slumber I am not yet aware of the word ‘gratitude’ for this stage is beyond language – so I wake up smiling, for no apparent reason at all.

Do I wake up in a hurry, an abruptness that is so jerky that it shatters both – the calm of the sleep and the joy of getting up? I have noticed an egg hatching  and an cow giving birth to a calf as a kid in my village and I was always intrigued about the ‘slowness and the gradualness’ of the process. There was no abruptness to it. Abruptness  kills. Young children wake up gradually, adults wake up abruptly. It is a fait accompli or can something be done about it?

I am becoming more and more aware of how I feel in that fleeting moment, where sleep dissolves and a young day of wakefulness is born.