Thursday, January 26, 2006

Chronicling Travels

I have been thinking about travels. The journeys mapped in physical and metaphysical coordinates of my own life as I know them. There is no blinking of the eye, no claim of righteousness and an awareness of the triviality of it all - of ignorance and of wisdom against the abyss of time.

One travels through his age, through relationships and through one's own egocentric paths. His inability to relate and establish channels of communication leads him to a state of pervasive conflict. This holds true when the search for self-identity is constrained and defined by external objects and ideas. The inverse of this defines another state of suffocation by one’s own unnamable and unborn identity too.

Irishman 1Becket's seekers found Raison d'etre in the act of waiting or electing not to wait endlessly for a certain Godot. In Unnamable, Becket described a state long before the search for identity when a fetus goes through suffocation and suffering in the womb:

I of whom I know nothing, I know my eyes are open because of the tears that pour from them unceasingly. I know I am seated, by hands on my knees, because of the pressure against my rump, against the soles of my feet? I don't know. My spine is not supported. I mention these details to make sure I am not lying on my back, my legs raised and bent, my eyes closed. (the UnNameable)

Becket reminds the reader all the while that man is an isolated, decaying, self-deluding, un-self-knowing, death-sentenced, rotting, body and mind.

Becket meant to understate a whole bunch of things.

I turn back to 2Vijayan and the travels he chronicled in his Legends of Kazakh. Ravi, the traveller in his book took a ride in the last bus to Kazakh. He left a whole lot of identity symbols behind to take up the job of a single instructor school in this forgotten hamlet.

Ravi once retold the story of karmic travels to his students:

Once upon a time, before reptiles and long before dinosaurs, two cells went for a walk in an evening. They came upon a sunlit valley.

Wonder what lies beyond this? Younger cell asked the bigger one.
This is an emerald valley. Let me linger in here.
I want to go. Younger sister insisted. She looked at the galactic paths that lay ahead.
Will you forget me? Elder sister asked.
I won't. She said.

You will. Elder sister said.
This is a loveless story of karmic cycles. This has separation and grief, nothing else.

I will conclude this with a montage from the same book.

Ravi is alone in the evening at his barn house. He would look through the window...there are no cows grazing outside. Night fell like grief and consolation. Fire flies wafted in the darkness. The shimmering lights along the country roads appeared like distant travelers. The house is now a coach on a railway track. Suddenly he remembered the gloom outside. Where am I? Lamps sped past and vanished on the two sides across the crystalline night. Another train flashed in. Yet another transit. A moment's acquaintance of karma, only for a moment between the wheels. Again it whistled by.

Becket and Vijayan must have been kindred spirits except perhaps for their faith in karma.

1. Samuel Becket: Irish Writer. Books referred to here are Waiting for Godot and the UnNameable.
2. O.V.Vijayan: Indian/Malayalam Writer. Book referred to here is Legends of Kazakh.


Ubermensch said...

hey rajesh,
glad you started writing again.Quite an interesting bit and more often than not Ive been working on similar associations and am sure shall have one write up at least similar, but definitely as exotic as it.

Rajesh said...

Yeah, rekindling love has some charm. Glad I was able to scribble a little.

I will be looking forward to the promise :)

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