It was perhaps 2nd of July 2009.. when Souvick asked me : “It is not what you are supposed to do, its what you WANT to do. What have you done for YOURSELF Anirban da?”.. It was at the Jawahar Peak, Darjeeling. We were sharing puff, I was a bit uncomfortable because that was the first time I tried smoking. It was extremely foggy, I could hardly figure anything out.. and the question struck me right into my heart.
As a Kid, I never have challenged my parents. Taken for granted.. I was told, from perhaps, the earliest days I can recall, “Ei bongsher chele ra toh bhalo hobei (Sons of this family has to be brilliant)”. Moreover, I was pushed to DO something in life as regards studies, with regular comparison with my cousins (to the extent of paralyzing our relationship) I was made to believe that if I donot be an engineer from Jadavpur or IIT’s, I will bring such a shame to my parents that they wont ever be able to show their face to the rest of the world. I was completely into the idea, although I never questioned who the “rest of the world” is.
I perhaps got a life in Durgapur. I could experiment with myself, did what my elders asked me to.. and being what I am now. But Souvick got me working real hard on : Society, my own identity and social identity. Recently I met a kid.. an extremely lovable one : Deeptish. He questions, why do we need to pretend to be someone else when we are not? Is it only for the society to accept us?
Perhaps, I am in a crossroad. I donot know how to react.. I put up the reasons, and myself hush it. I can perhaps answer this from my perspective. It took some time for my extended family to accept that children of their family can actually love music and arts. But are they the “society“? What exactly is the society? Society refers to the universal set of people. You dont need to be anything to them… Be decent, that’s it. At this age ([limit]age->20), what matters is what we are to our parents. Our transparency matters to them.
The character of the society differs from place to place. The bengali society, the supposedly “modern” bengali society is extremely selfish. There is an old saying that goes like this ” Porer chele poromanondo, joto ucchonnye jaaye toto anondo (More their son rots, the more fun it is. )”. Yet the society holds an important role in our life. Why so?
We all want to be accepted, isnt it? Few are happy with fewer people accepting them.. while few wants to socialize more, be decent with all.. access the society when needed, talk, add value to their entire system. But none is asking you, not to be yourself. We would definitely not wish our parents to be ashamed of us. If I am required to compromise on a bit for my parents sake, I would love to. We would definitely not wish to miss out on a person that can actually be a close friend of ours. Each one of us, look at this, from our own perspective.[Perceptions come with age, with experience. It differs, one seems to be all righteous over the other, but this might not be a necessary true fact 😉 With age, with experience our perceptions, thought process changes. As a person my role shall be to respect perceptions, invite them.. put forward my view, discuss, motivate, improvise upon and accept. In the process, respecting the elders’ experience and the young’s’ amateurish touch is a necessary ritual.]
I have read little of our Indian philosophy, I have not found any place where they have under lined the society. The society is described to be ever dynamic, changing as the wind flows. With newer people, newer ideas, social values keep changing. The focus has always been on “Karma“, or the work you do. The work as in the profession, your duties and the responsibilities. Be the best musician and the world will respect you. Keep your parent happy, be the good son and the society wont complain. There is the action-outcome theory in our philosophical text (I refuse to call it religious) , and time is the prime variable. Till then, no one is entitled to speak.. but who cares? “Kuch toh Log kahenge, logon ka kaam hain kehna ( They shall speak, its their work to comment on our work)” .. remember the song? So perhaps, you dont need to prove anything to the society. Gita tells, if we are right we shall be victorious… since we are not fighting war 😛 So I take it in this way > If we are right, we shall be happy. Its relative, happiness is actually very relative. I can be happy now, doing something, the same action can fail to bring me happiness 5 years down the line. So the judgement of our actions happen 5 years down the line, right? What we can do, is this : Listen to our heart, listen to what our loved ones say, mix them… work over time and simply give in our 100% to each. Atleast we shall stay satisfied of our work if not anything else.
Swami Vivekananda, goes a step ahead in tackling the “society”, “Good motives, sincerity, and infinite love can conquer the world.”, he said. I perhaps cannot love all 😛 But yes, can try, be decent.. and love who are actually lovable. The book of Arda Viraf says,”good thought, good words, good deed… leads to ultimate success”. They have actually nullified the concept of “society” , putting the all emphasis on ourself, our conduct and our work.
We need dialogue, yes we do. We need to talk and discuss. We need to prove ourselves a bit, and then ask people (which includes our parents) to have their trust in us. Our elementary work shall prove us.
Regarding work… I have a very nice hindi lyrics by Javed Akhtar : “raahi dekh raha hai tu kya, hain har disha ek raasta, bol tera hain kaun sa raasta. [O Traveller, what are you looking at? Each direction you can look at opens a new road for you, just choose the way for you] “.. Your work defines your destination. The world (society) looks at your destination to search for your definition.
Does that mean, you need to pretend to be someone else? Javed Akhtar goes on to say “aasaaniya mil sakti hai tujhko zamaane se, par jara yeh bata jina hai kya yu tujhe, aajaadiya tu paayega khud ko hi paane se, phir bata koi darr mehsus ho kyon tujhe? Hoga tera hi yeh faisla, asaniya/ aazadiya.. bol tera hain kaun sa rasta!” [You shall be comforted by the society (if you follow it) but, tell me something, do you want to live this life? You shall be free once you have discovered yourself, then tell me, what should you fear? The choice shall be yours.. the comfort or the freedom. O traveller, just choose the way for you.] ..the choice is ultimately yours. We all want to be accepted, “that all my destinations will accept the one that’s me , so I can breathe ” (Eddie Vedder).
Few of us wants our parents to accept us. Few of us expect our friends to accept us. Few of us wants our local people to accept us. Friends, I wanted all. I never wanted my parents to be disheartened or spoken roughly to by my relatives because of my grades.. I wanted my friends to accept me the way I am.. May be they have accepted the weird little creature that I am, who doesnot abuse people and loves working more than girls in his life. They perhaps have accepted my madness, my arguments, my reasons.. I have defined my society for myself. My society is the immediate surrounding that I am in, and my close friends. Deeptish was actually right when he told, I am a situation driven person.
And most importantly, each moment that I breathe, is a past tense. Move ahead, each new moment is a new opportunity for us. Each new moment a fresh start to our lives, another work to do, another task to accomplish.. another feather to add to our crown. You really donot need to care for those who regards you any less… keep working. Keep proving yourself. Keep working for yourself and the people you love… and you dont need to regret or pretend for anything, for we and our friends make the society.
A final question, Should I help the society? “Infinite love can conquer the world”, now comes the part of winning hearts… help those who need it. Be by their side, if they need it. Go to the extent till it can harm you if at all… and if you love/respect the person, even if it harms you a bit, go ahead… help. Help people around you grow, it in turn makes your world a better place to live in. [Question by Supratik Chatterjee]
Very well written……in my opinion also one should not try to change himself for the society to accept him. The society will accept a person depending on what he really is and trying to be someone else is just to fool around yourself only not the society.
and on the question of should u help the society?. Yes of course its a moral responsibility. Help in a way that is humanely possible and u will surely feel the happiness.
Life is too easy to live in a complicated way. We need society but its just that we sometimes forget that it too need us. More.