Even while lingering through an old, old bookshelf in a forgotten corner of an old house, one finds, a tattered yellowed piece of paper where, with brownish ink were scribbled the following thoughts. Desultorily sketched, but full of conviction were these lines, which seemed so near to one’s heart –
What, one may ask, is the end of studies? Gratification, enrichment, embellishment – these are merely the counters, the markers. But, what actually happens after the mind is gratified? How long is the span of gratification, unless there is a means of prolonging it? That is, to say, is there any means of assuring its worth and value? One may write down one’s impulses. One may win accolades in conferences, in talks, among one’s students. These are the means. The outlets, the rivulets, one might say, in the creation of a delta, the fertile plain of the mind.
Twenty odd years have been quite a long time. Of looking at class times, reaching on time, preparing lessons, anticipating questions from the other end and rushing through time – through various syllabi, unfinished assignments, invigilating through the lengths and breadths of classrooms, signing scripts, evaluating scripts. So many precious minutes just lost – doing almost nothing but staring at the boys, girls, noticing their writing instruments, the new fashions and desultorily wondering at the changes down the years. All seem to be a big sham and a big pretence, because there seems to be nothing original in all these. The answers are those of suggested questions, tutorial notes are mostly regurgitated. It all seems so patterned and paralysing. Yet, there is no other alternative, in a country where millions dream of being educated. In all these years, there have been only a few great moments of revitalizing oneself – again, through books or through wise words. But these moments are most often lost – in endless rigmaroles of administrative duties, of bureaucratic and academic necessities, of mere devices of survival, as it were, and in the thoroughly meaningless camaraderie among people. The mind obfuscates, tires and withers, no, it veritably gets killed, totally bored.
Mid-forties – the years of introspection, having reached the mid life mark. One starts believing, not to chances and miracles, but on one’s past and on some kind of power – maybe providence, but inscrutable, unknowable, inevitable – just obvious – but very certain. In its grasp, one feels like tying all knots on unfinished portfolios, one feels like just winding up because one hears the clock slowly, but surely ticking away.
Hence, at times the questions – what am I here to do? Which is the road to redemption? And quietly, gradually the answers walk their procession, not forgetting to perplex and confuse. Alternatives jumble themselves, knots after knots, puzzles. Labyrinthine in their arrays they trick, and they tease, the fake becomes unidentifiable with the real. Hence, the reading must continue, arduously felicitously and facetiously. It should tease us out of thought in almost coquettish delight, and win our favour in a firm and enduring grip. That is, perhaps, the end of learning. The arrow must reach this abyss and get firmly anchored in the promise of redemption.