Of Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow
Having lost the track of time over the last few days preoccupied with matters urgent that made me forget the events that makes the day significant, I settled down in the morning to rummage through the maze of solicitous WhatsApp messages, which await my daily pandering as much as me for them, in a symbiotic dance of mutual indulgences; soon I came across a post of yesterday from a school classmate of mine that said, “Happy Brother’s Day” with an alluring image of two loving and sprightly young lads resting on each other’s shoulders and the words: “Dear Brother, Today You Are Not Here By My Side…but We are Close in Each Others Thoughts and My Love Will Always Be With You. I Love You and Miss You So Much…”
As I gathered myself in a flurry of thoughts of ‘yesterdays’ and the perchance miss of an important event that I had been waiting long to reminisce on, I quickly recovered to query Google, lest I missed any further events: “What is the importance of today?” The perceptive reply was:
“Today is the most important day of your life.
This is not a cliché. It is not a reminder that life is short. It is a timeless truth, a simple truth, and a truth that few people use to guide their daily thought and action….”
Was I not wedged between ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Today’, that would soon become ‘Tomorrow’, I asked myself. It kindled in my mind the sobering words of the Sufi poet, Omar Khayyam in his Rubaiyat:
“Ah, fill the Cup, what boots it to repeat
How Time is slipping underneath our Feet:
Unborn TOMORROW, and dead YESTERDAY,
Why fret about them if TODAY be sweet!”
My Hindi/Urdu translation goes something like this:
Omar Khayyam, in his metaphoric relationship between the unreality of the phenomenal world and the annihilation of the old and the creation of the new self, brings forth the flowering of the higher consciousness closer to us as a manifestation of truth and reality. He at once obliterates the seeming distinction between the past, present and future into the sublime state beyond the triad of time to a Nirvanic (Liberating) experience of ‘Now’.
However, it is undeniable that our yesterdays and the memories of them shape our todays and tomorrows. In the conceivable measure of time, the past events have a consequential influence in our memories imprint. They illuminate our consciousness towards share, care, remembrances and growth as beings in the drama of life and living. Humans being social by disposition, extend intense importance to relationships, especially of the kinship kind. We get anxious when the kinship equilibrium is disturbed, bringing in a sense of dismay. It is with this sensitivity that the significance of the ‘Brothers Day’ should be seen in its essence.
Rolling back the event of yesterday let me recall my time with my brothers. We were a humble family of three brothers, under the caring eyes of our mother, having lost our father very early in life as toddlers. Life for us was simple, of limited means, full of meaning with an abiding concern for excellence; having earned an early responsibility of being ahead of the time. We were fortunate to be endowed with an extended family of both paternal and maternal uncles, aunts and cousins that more than compensated for the absence of a father. The household was a throbbing ensemble of relationships where encore was the repeat of our lives: we identified with veteran actor Michael J. Fox’s take, “Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” We believed in it wholeheartedly.
Recalling from memory, from early 1960s; we shared the few books, the few clothes, the collected coins neatly stored in our little piggy banks to be broken-open when time came to humour ourselves beyond our means, walks and foray to the nearby railway station of Cuttack to browse the Wheeler bookshop and await the fall of the green signal and be thrilled at the trundle of the steam engine (we even climbed it and impressed the driver to give us a lift at times), the turn-by-turn fetching of coal, firewood (until the arrival of the first lot of Caltex gas in the city) vegetable and ration, of hand-in-hand chaperon by the elder brother to the imposing Jobra sluice gates that opened the only fair-weather road to the other side of mighty Mahanadi, the unforgettable words of caution and advice of our protective grandmother who awaited us till we returned from school, the reading under a lone hurricane lamp in an impromptu study room, the lucky one accompanying our competent veena-playing mother to the Bengali movies at Hind Cinema and being introduced to a charming Charulata of Satyajit Ray; or when the old HMV Gramophone would be brought out and we be entertained to the vintage 78 RPM lac records collection of our late father with the lilting voices of Pandit Balakrusna Das, C H Atma, Sapan Jagmohan or the inimitable Kamala Jharia singing “Bedana Diyana Prane…”, that not just moved our mother visibly but also honed our creative interests early in life.
If we had our moments of anguish and despair, which must have been, they were skillfully kept away from us by the combined duo of our mother and grandmother. It never entered our impressionistic minds.
As time progressed, we went our ways. Love grew further in our absences. We excelled in our own domains; be it as a Professor in English Literature, a Naval Aviator or Economist of repute.
However, the strokes of Providence befell us when our grandmother and mother left us respectively but we brothers rode out the storms valiantly having been tested on the tragedies of life early in our upbringing. Notwithstanding, the balances of life re-gathered and picked up the momentum to fathom new journeys as we threesome continued in our pursuits.
It was the morning after Holi, while the city and its people were in pause following the variegated celebrations of the day before; Providence struck its mighty blow and took my younger brother away from our fold in an unannounced tragedy that numbed us other two brothers into submission. Our threesome was broken and we the two elder of the three were remorse beyond repair. We were shattered and later, writing in my younger brother’s Obituary Memoriam, my elder brother wrote:
“…I manage to produce a gesture of refuge and
decipher, at the same time, the utter fiction inside me
and try to balance, in your presence,
the one with the other.”
And I wrote:
“Now when I pen these random thoughts rather earlier than expected, I know I too will sail away into the sunset, on my little ship, alone in my resplendent white uniform like a true sailor, perhaps with answers in my hold. To partake, I would just like to take a last glance at the fading horizon, and with the pomposity of a mighty Admiral, so much like you today, pronounce to the world: “Death be not proud.”
Thus completes my little story of ‘Three Brothers’: not just recalling the spirit of yesterday’s eventful National Brothers Day as a reminiscent of time past but also with the background of the concept of time as the only primordial dimension that will withstand the rise and fall of every conceivable occurrence around us. In a way, we all are bound by one dimension: Time, the rest being only appendages in the cosmic scheme of things. The National Brothers Day is an event to reminisce in a grander scale of remembrance of things past that persists in our memories, a la Salvador Dali.