“What’s the matter? Lost in the thoughts?” Lulu, my parrot, nudged me. Parrots are highly intelligent and perceptive birds, much more than what we believe.
I kept aside the pencil I was playing with, or chewing at one end, to be precise. “It’s my teacher’s birthday.” I picked up the pencil but kept it down immediately under the gaze of Lulu. “He is gone and he remains in my memory.”
“That’s because you miss him.” Lulu hopped closer. “Why do you miss him?”
“Hmmm …. That’s a difficult question to answer, Lulu. I had never thought about it. But let me give it a try ….”
“Go ahead …”
“He questioned my assumptions. My beliefs.”
“I told him that I have not read and do not feel like reading Mahatma Gandhi’s book ‘My experiments with Truth.’ As a schoolboy I had read the Godse’s testimony before the court. Impressed, I was. His testimony was highly appreciated in the in our circle of friends. Nobody liked Gandhi.”
“What did your teacher say?”
“He laughed and said I should learn to respect a contrary view. And that I should read more and come to my conclusion. I should form an independent opinion.”
“He did not chastise you?
“No! But the way conversation progressed, I realized that I was judging without forming an opinion. And that is different from forming an impression, I hope you get what I mean.”
“Ha ha! An opinion is formed carefully after a study, unlike an impression.”
“Yes!” I picked up the pencil again, it is a chewing gum substitute when you are thinking.
“If he is indeed wise, he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind” Lulu looked at me, his words were an obvious reference to my teacher.
“I quoted Kahlil Gibran. Did you not read about a few West Indies cricketers speaking about racial taunts during their IPL play?”
“Yes, I did. It always surprises me that we have a bias against people with dark skin. Most of us have dark skin, dark brown if you wish to distinguish, and yet we have this bias.”
“Did you notice that the idols of Gods are also made in black stone. Tirupati, Shreenathji, Vitthal! There are many idols in white marble, but predominantly you will find them sculpted in black stone. We accept black god, but not people with dark skin!”
“Biases are everywhere, with everyone and in every walk of life. Surprisingly, many managers think that they are different from workers and look down upon workers! A friend once remarked ‘Managers have anthropological interest in workers!!’”
“Ha ha! Have you heard of the film ‘White Dog’? It was made in 1982, and a new film was made last year on the novel carrying the same name.”
“What about it?”
“The plot … Gary finds a dog near his house. A friendly white dog. It attacks only the black persons because it is so trained. Gary realizes that the white dog was trained to attack the black people. In the sixties and seventies dogs were so trained in the USA!”
“He takes the dog to the dog-trainer who suggests killing the dog. But Gary asks ‘Are you suggesting that we should kill anyone who makes a mistake?’ And then he suggests that the dog should be de-trained.”
“‘Are you suggesting that we should kill anyone who makes a mistake?!’ Such a powerful question. In our ‘world of zero-tolerance’, the answer unfortunately is ‘Yes’! I do not know whether Gandhi made a mistake. But killing is not an option.”
“In our response, we have to be life-positive, as Osho says. Otherwise, there is no difference between us and the white dog.”
“We have a lot to ‘de-train’ or ‘unlearn’”
“What were your feelings when you realized the wisdom of your teacher?”
“Pain! When he asked me to form an ‘opinion’, and I realized what he meant, it was sheer pain. I realized that my view was not well formed, it was bias and not a well thought-out-opinion. I accepted it finally but not without a churn. Your choice broadcasts your values. Some unlearning I underwent.”
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”
“Don’t tell me Kahlil Gibran said it”
“Actually, he did!” Lulu pointed to the book ‘The Prophet’ on my bookshelf.
Vivek S Patwardhan
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” / Read more Lulu blogs in my book ‘The Lulu Duologues’