The Unadorned

My literary blog to keep track of my creative mood swings with poems n short stories, book reviews n humorous prose, travelogues n photography, reflections n translations, both in English n Hindi.

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I'm a peace-loving married Indian male on the right side of '50 with college-going children, and presently employed under government. Educationally I've a master's degree in History, and another in Computer Application. Besides, I've a post graduate diploma in Management. My published works are:- (1)"In Harness", ISBN 81-8157-183-5, a poetry collections and (2) "The Remix of Orchid", ISBN 978-81-7525-729-0, a short story collections with a foreword by Mr. Ruskin Bond, (3) "Virasat", ISBN 978-81-7525-982-9, again a short story collection but in Hindi, (4) "Ek Saal Baad," ISBN 978-81-906496-8-1, my second Story Collection in Hindi.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Cleansing Thing

Sometimes I ask myself: would I handle my new job with the same feeling of satisfaction I derive from my present calling, if I were to work as a sweeper?

Maybe I’d. It’s a hypothetical question though.

India is a strange country with weird social mores—people who clean are considered themselves unclean. It is considered to be a job of indignity. Of course, Gandhiji used to emphasize the dignity of labour; but attitudes have not greatly changed. History continues to rule our minds with all its infamy!

Only yesterday I experienced something illuminating at the homeopath’s.

It was eleven o’ clock in the forenoon when I reached there. The doctor had already arrived, but not started his work. I saw him sweeping the floor of his cramped clinic. There was hardly any space to call it floor, yet he did a good job. Presently, a lady came for doing the mopping and, before being asked, I shifted to a corner to allow her doing her job. It was inconvenient; nevertheless I co-operated. The doctor noted this with approbation.

‘Sir, I’ll tell you a small event in my life—how my father once praised me for a good reason,’ the doctor happily opened the talk. I could feel he had a feeling of elation recollecting the happy memory of his dead father.

A father praising a son for a good reason? On other occasion I would have just glossed over a statement like this, but now the mood was different. His tone, the expression in his face made me attentive. I had no doubt that the gentleman would be narrating something useful, straight from his heart.

‘Once I was voluntarily sweeping my father’s clinic at this spot, some thirty years ago. Somebody affectionate present then began to discourage me as if I was doing something sacrilegious, but my father encouraged me to continue,’ the doctor took a pause.

‘So, your dad must have done that for a reason,’ I meant buttressing him.

‘Yes, you’re right, sir. My father had a reason. He said by doing this supposedly small work I was unknowingly sweeping the dust that came from, maybe, some great men’s feet. And I keep doing this as a pious work to start my day’s routine.’

It was something really profound that I heard from the gentleman homeopath. Agreed, he earns his livelihood selling those placebos, yet he is a person of spiritual realization. I was reminded of the gestures people in India show while approaching a highway. It is a usual scene to find them taking dabs of dust from the road to put them on, on their forehead before setting their feet on a highway. What does this imply? And what does this accentuate? All roads lead to god’s abode and holy is the road that great men and women tread on, on their way to spiritual attainments.

Today is Diwali, the festival of lights. India will burn tonnes of crackers and streets will be full of scraps of paper and burnt chemicals. Tomorrow, only a few cleaning personnel will perspire to make streets clean.

Nothing has changed since the days of yore. There are still more people to make things dirty than those who sweep them clean.
A. N. Nanda



Blogger pleading sanity said...

Ah! This is truly profound and such an insight into India. I am blessed to read these words. People here in the U.S. do indeed look down on manual labor, but maybe not in the same way. There is the flip side of an honest days work that so many used to adhere to. Now many of us "labor" behind a screen on a keyboard. Doesn't compare. What is it like in India with the onset of technological advance?

11:35 AM  
Blogger A_N_Nanda said...

Thanks PS for your nice words about my ramble.

In India technology is fast reaching the commonest of the common these days, like the cell phones for instance. Offices and business concerns have been integrated to IT and work in networked environment. We have now substantially more automobiles on the roads than they used to ply just ten years ago. Consumer durables are the most sought-after thing in the market. In the villages where there used to be no electricity 10-15 years ago have now households with washing machines, satelite televisions direct to home.

The availability of these gadgets have brought comforts no doubt. Still there are many things to be done to bring gender equality, universal education, health for all. More people are now interested to live in towns than in villages, work at factories than in farms, eat packaged food than home-cooked stuffs, live in nuclear families than the age-old joint families. Average size of families is coming down. Percentage of one's income going to food is coming down where as the percentage spent on non-food is going up too fast. Younger generation is earning substantially more than older one which result in preference of independent living among the youth. People are getting richer than the governments and local bodies, which means more cars and less roads, more wastes than the wastebins, and so forth.

When people get rich faster than they would expect, they have no time for learning traffic rules but have money to ride on the road, no time to learn what is good for environment but they consume what their money can buy, no time for the finer things in life like poetry, religion, care for the old....

It is in this context that I outpoured my ramble.

Thanks once again.


7:28 AM  
Anonymous Naira Yaqoob said...

I was reading a few of your short articles and really liked "Cleansing Thing". I think it was thought-provoking. We really can't claim to have changed much till we learn the dignity of labor.

Naira Yaqoob

12:16 AM  
Blogger A_N_Nanda said...

Thanks Naira. It's difficult to teach that to our children though. Loving those who work for us could be the right beginning.


9:55 PM  

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