Lulu, my parrot, flew in and settled on my shoulder. “Hey!” he whispered.
This is that moment when you instinctively know that the ‘party of the second part’ has something up his sleeve. Instincts are like caveats in the court, they caution you, warn you that proceeding without listening to them is strewn with danger. And my instinct informed me that Lulu, the parrot, was in a very mischievous mode.
“Hello!” I said with the caution of a pedestrian crossing busy Mumbai street. “What’s the news?”
“I have one question” Lulu said. My instinct was right. I knew this was coming.
“Shoot it then” I said, with the nervousness of a student appearing for his exams.
“Why don’t you take a sabbatical? That’s the ‘in-thing’ for youngsters. Everybody is applying for a sabbatical after Rahul Gandhi availed it, and flew to Bangkok.”
“It is okay for Rahul Gandhi. His family has enough wealth to survive without working for the next few generations, not mine. I must work and earn. And I do not have a protective mother like Sonia ji.” I explained.
“She did not accompany him to Bangkok. Nobody travels with his mother to Bangkok. Why don’t you think of taking a sabbatical and flying away to Bangkok?” Lulu said. There is something about the way parrots question you. Birds often circle a tree a few times before landing on a branch. I knew Lulu was approaching the main question in similar fashion.
“I know what you are suggesting. Remember Sabbaticals are taken for acquiring new skills. Or to discover a new world. I have no such thought.”
“Rahul Gandhi has come back with more energy, more vigour and has emerged as a better speaker. He is leading farmers now. Wow, what a transformation sabbatical did! So you must think of a sabbatical, it will do you good.”
“Oh, I am quite happy doing my work, I do not need these injections of vigour and energy. And I am on a permanent sabbatical – I am retired person. Why are you worried about my transformation? Men don’t transform.”
“Neither do women! Ha, ha!! You got it right, men don’t transform; they evolve. It is slow. Not noticeable in short run. Unlike Rahul Gandhi.”
“Evolving. That’s the right word. What’s the formula?”
“Some go to a learned person, enlightened person or Guru. Others read books, meditate. Whatever suits you is okay; what’s your way?”
“Whatever little good happened to me is all because such people in my life. Influence of some people on my way of thinking, my becoming a better person is absolutely undeniable. I am ever grateful to them. But sometimes I wonder, if they were influencing me or I was getting influenced, absorbing good thoughts and messages like a sponge.”
“Hmmm…… that is difficult to say, right? It is a kind of chemistry. Both transform; I mean both evolve.” Lulu stationed himself on my laptop.
“Something happens when some people come in your life, they cast their influence. It happens even if you have not sought it. It is like walking in the rains, you get wet whether you want it or not. You pick up their way of thinking and their style of speaking. Some pick up even mannerisms. Just look at some disciples of a Guru who teaches music.”
“And some grow out of it. Bhimsen Joshi was a disciple of Savai Gandharva but his music and style evolved distinct and different later. Many managers also surpass their Guru…..”
“And many others think that they have surpassed their Guru.”
“That is a feeling I have never had! Competition with Guru was never the agenda, I think it is simply ridiculous thought. I have always remained obliged for whatever they have given me.”
“Who were your Gurus?”
“Well, looking back so many of them. Some of my school teachers have influenced me. Some elders in the family. Some whom I have met professionally. And one person has influenced me very much but I realised it quite late.”
“A hammer falling on your feet and a person influencing you have the same effect. You realise what happened with a long time gap. Ha, ha!”
“Yup! She influenced me like the root of a banyan tree finds its way through a hard rock and cracks it open.”
“Referring to your wife?” Lulu looked at me for confirmation.
“Yes, obviously. In this evening of my life I have realised her influence on me.”
“So what are you suggesting to Rahul Gandhi?”
“My advice to him? ‘Get married, of course. Find a good wife for yourself.’”
Lulu winked at me, sat on my shoulder thinking about it for some time. “Good advice is also like a sponge, it sinks in slowly!” he said as he flew away.
Vivek S Patwardhan