So are the lonely people. They are the ones who make life better for others to enjoy the show called life. But then, Aab is disturbed that anyone in this world should actually be lonely. There are people suffering from Living Together Loneliness, having relatives, family and friends all around them, but mentally cut-off. There are those who are more lonely in crowds than they are when they are alone.
Great spiritual leaders talk about overcoming loneliness. They show the path to merge with the Creator, thus surrendering your very being and becoming one with the Universe. Aab is a very small, ordinary and unenlightened person. He can feel one with a astray dog, with a row of ants, with a paper boat flowing with rain water - but not beyond that. The funny thing is that these very beings, according to Aab, can take away loneliness. But some of 7us doggedly hang on to our individuality, isolating ourselves from so many wonderful things around us. He wants to help them. Some listen to him, some don't. Some listen and forget; some do change and enjoy their newfound, warmth.
Aab looks up at the sky and wonders what lies beyond. Space is finite, but only because man has created his own limitations. Water can be stopped by a dam, but no human can stop it from evaporating or seeping into the ground. Man shuts out the breeze to insulate his AC room - but he still needs to breathe the same air.
Humans build fences to enclose and protect their property - and are in turn interred into six feet of ground where even the tiniest of insect can nibble at his remains. Aab has a lot of time to think. And he thinks of time. He knows that man has never mastered time and never will - for man is too busty putting walls around time, while time roams free of all fetters. Man creates his own misery of perpetually running short of time- until time abandons him and moves on in gay merriment while the most active human turns to dust and ashes.
The architect of the universe, when he designed man on his drawing board (He does not use Auto cad), gave man total mastery over one wonderful asset - his emotions. But man does not know how to use this valuable legacy. He is so busy chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, that he has missed out on the worth of the rainbow itself.
Aab wishes we would spend more time understanding our feelings and gain mastery over them. That, Aab knows is the final conquest man can achieve
Since Aab is wanderer and a drifter, most people think he has no ambition in life. But surprisingly they are wrong. Aab has an ambition - he wants to become a professor of love. He is willing to work hard for it... but deep down inside he knows that he may never succeed. There is no such job available. No one wants to learn how to love. They are either too busy looking for someone to love or busier still looking for someone to love them. Some people behave as Though they already have a PHD in Love, while others laugh and ridicule it, as though it is meant only for soft and sentimental fools.
Aab believes that love is an enlightening skill that each human can acquire but only if he or she strives to learn the nuances of it. Aab is willing to teach anyone who is interested. He does not pride himself that he has the final word on it. He wants to share what he learns on a day to day basis just by observing others. he wants to expand on what he has come to understand is not love thus paving the way to defining it appropriately. He wants to clarify the difference between "love, the feeling" and "to love, the action". He knows that anyone who learns to love will never have a shortage of persons to love - or of people who love him.
But, no one wants to learn. So Aab will never get his dream job. People like Aab are destined to be unemployed, but in a way it is good. As long as he is unemployed, he will have all the time in the world to observe, learn and imbibe love. And maybe, just maybe, people may learn by emulating his example.
Aab is wander and drifter. He still goes around leaving little bits of love on the trail as he walks into the sunset.
Aab does not know the date when he was born - nobody does. He may not have been very welcome in this world, or maybe people were just too busy to keep track of mundane things like an insignificant baby's birth. He does have an idea how many calender years he has spent on this earth, but he actually feels that he has spent at least double that time experiencing life. For he has experienced life in double-shits, often leading a Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde type of life. Not that he went around murdering people, but he has seen the brightness of the rich and powerful days., and hobnobbed with the murky and diseased nights.
Even today Aab lives a life that denies definition. He never had, and does not have even now, a profession. He has never known what it is to receive a salary. He has built castles in the air, and donated them to others. He has nurtured others dreams, and packaged them in dainty bubbles to give to those who look forward to life.
Aab does not look forward to life. Not that he is suicidal or desperate, he just does not have any desires or aspirations. It is not even as though he is an ascetic or a sanyasi. He lives very much in the material world, partakes of all worldly activities (selectively of course), and has no knowledge of anything spiritual. Yet he feels more curious to know about his death date than his birth date. At the same time, he is knowledgeable enough to know that he will not know his death date, till the date has arrived - and then of course that knowledge will be of no use. It is just that he could start celebrating the anniversary of his death in advance if he were to come to know, by any chance. Aab knows that he could not in any way be in the good books of God. He does not even know where God lives, whether it is a he or a she, and - he often wonders why the omnipotent and all-powerful God requires people to worship him. If he does get an opportunity, Aab would rather meet up with God and share a cup of tea on a street corner. But that is blasphemy, so Aab does not talk about this desire of his to anyone.
At nights sometimes Aab wanders on the roads. He enjoys chill winter nights, wet roads just after a heavy night shower, and the warm summer nights, equally.
As he walks around, he gets glimpses into people's houses. From one room tenements where half a dozen occupants occupy every square foot of space, to palatial drawing rooms where a lone occupant can be seen relaxing in luxury. Of course, the common factor in all these houses is inevitably the TV, blaring away its sound and holding humans captive by its fast changing visuals. Humans who have come to the end of a tiring day, willingly surrender themselves to the anonymity of the idiot box, with thoughts dulled, emotions regressed and initiative put on hold.
Aab looks around and is over-awed by ;how "houses" have grown in opulence and style. And yet he is numbed by how "homes" have shrunk to mediocrity and have become so impersonal where every human lives in a shell, pierced only by the TV, Internet or the mobile phone. There is no common family activity, minimal interaction, and an emotional distancing- leading to what a writer aptly described as "Living Together Loneliness."
Aab has no house to live in. The whole world is his haven and refuge. And he does not lament not having a house of his own- for he knows that a house, however strong, large and grand it is, does not become a home, unless a lot of effort and love is poured into it. He continues walking around, shamelessly peeping through windows looking for the rare "home" in the urban jungle.
Further along the road less travelled, with my friend Aab
The hour of dusk. When solid shapes slowly start merging with the abstract shadows. When bright and harsh daylight meekly surrenders to the all enveloping carpet of darkness.
This is the hour of the day that Aab relishes the most. He loves to break off from the routine of fast paced urban life, and look up at the sky. He sees the branches of a tree silhouetted against the soft grey of the gingerly spreading night. He catches a glimpse of the late birds hurrying to their nests, sometimes in V-formation, sometimes in one's and two's. He feels the stirring of the gently breeze, which seems to have gathered courage to sway our only after the harsh sun has crossed beyond the horizon.
And after scouring the endless skies and far-off horizon, Aab's eyes return to the immediate surroundings. In the madly competitive world, the urban man does not return home in the hour of cowdust. He switches on bright and glaring lights in a desperate bid to take over from the sun. People become more active- shops and offices become busier, traffic becomes heavier, and people compete not only to move faster and farther, but to push others back.
Aab steps aside. He wants the world to get that little space that he is occupying. He is happy on his kerb-stone watching the exhaust pollution and deafening sounds that have taken over from the cowdust and the tinkle of bells..
Aab sat one the sea shore. The sun was setting on the horizon far beyond the vast expanse of the Arabian sea, gently lowering itself into a haze, shedding its scorching heat and blinding light, and wilfully surrendering itself to becoming a mere spectacle for others to gaze at. Giving up its power and glory was so easy for the mighty sun.
Aab was wondering why this puny creature called man, made of clay and bones, finds it so difficult to hand over his wealth and assets, which never were his in the first place. The sun does not stake any claim over the sky or the ocean, it does not cling to its position of glory that it held at noon. it seems to actually enjoy abdicating tits power and fading away into oblivion - not even jealous of the tiny moon that takes up pride of place in the sky at night.
Perhaps man considers himself more powerful and indispensable than the sun. Aab does not think so. He knows that he is like the shifting sand on the beach, like the grass that grows, is cut, and gives way to barren earth - which again erupts with greenery in the next rains.
For generations men have watched the sunset, felt the high and low tides, left their footprints in the shifting sands only to fade away.l Perhaps some have left behind some freshness, like the evening sea breeze Aab gets up and walks away from the sunset, the sea .... into the sea of humanity.
Aab Aab has learnt the hard way that when a person keeps giving freely not only does he not get back anything, people want more and more our of him. This is true whether the person is giving out material gifts or giving of himself. In fact when a person given emotionally, people presume he has a sort of reservoir of feelings, hence will never require emotional support himself.
He remembers the adage "even a mother does not give milk till the baby cries out for it", and thinks of the poor souls who have never learnt to ask, leave alone cry out. He watches sadly when any such person (thankfully there are not too many of them around) on rare occasions do cry out, and people around look upon with disbelief. Many even declare, "How can you say you have a need when you keep giving to so many others?"
People who give consistently and unconditionally, often land up in loneliness. People neither believe that such persons have needs, nor do they consider themselves competent to provide it to "such a capable person". Hence Aab wants to teach the givers to ask for and learn to receive love. But they are bad students, they often do not learn. They continue to suffer their isolation, their loneliness in crowds - and Aab suffers silently watching their misery.
Aab is fascinated with authority.
He watches with fascination how human beings don the garb of their individuality. He marvels at creation that has made humans so equal that even the King and the Dictator have to visit the toilet as often as the commoner, that even golden plates and spoons cannot take away hunger but for a specific period.
At times he wonders whether he is jealous of those who command awe and respectful fear from others. But he could not be, because he spurned every effort to acquire status, whenever it came his way. And it did come his way many a times. Aab has been nothing more than Aab. He never held a title, never moved in the regalia of the powerful. But he has rubbed shoulders with them, and has smelt them from close range. The odour is intoxicating, far more powerful than the best of wine.
He has often visualized the high and mighty in their utterly naked form- shorn of their finery and ornaments. He has seen many of them being lowered into their graves, leaving behind everything that they owned, powerless to even prevent people from mixing them with dust, from lofty thrones all the way down six feet into the earth.
Aab has also seen, in many decades of his existence, how the meek rise up to become mighty and forget their meekness; he has seen the mighty bite the dust and yet not learn a lesson from it. Aab often looks at dust and looks at man, and fails to notice any difference between them, except in their deeds.
My friend Aab:
Once upon a time Aab used to live in the biggest city of the country.... and the busiest. He used to work hard, but not too hard. Towards the end of the day, he would sit quietly at a roadside corner (space on corners is also limited in big cities- you have to pay for it) and watch everyone rushing by. He would see people getting angry when traffic comes to a standstill, he would see human beings literally bumping into each other and pushing their way through. "They are all in a hurry" he would muse, "obviously they have greater purpose of life than I do" For Aab hardly ever seems to be in a hurry. He would always adjust to time, but would never expect time to adjust to him.
Aab loves all creatures, because he believes there is something inherently nice about each and every living being. He has a soft corner for human beings, partly because he is one (though many a time he still doubts whether he genuinely is, for he never seems to fit into the mold others expect him to). Yet sadly (or happily) he has never loved human beings so much that he could get pulled down by their behaviour, nor can he feel the ecstasy of being loved and adored. For deep down he has learnt the hard way that humans don't really love other humans- they love the desire to love, they love the fulfillment of being in love, and they love possessing (even mentally) the object of their love.
The clock tells Aab that it is time to get up from the corner and move on. His body knows where to go, but his heart does not.
There is no security on this earth . There is only opportunity