As the mother of a headstrong son who thinks he can teach me a thing or two about life, what would I not do for him to do a little vipassana, even go into a silent sulk. As the mother of that headstrong son, I know better.
Oh yes, thoughts of reflection are very tempting when one is around Rahul Gandhi’s age. Though most of us go there pushed by the pressures of parenthood, not pulling in our long-suffering parents.
So, eat your hearts out, you Rahul-baiters, I don’t grudge him this leave. Whatever your thoughts about his powers of reflection, don’t tell me you don’t envy the fact that a 44-year-old thinks he can do it. In peace. The sheer expectation of being required to show something for the exercise would deflate most of us.
The last time I gave myself such space, all I ended up doing was lying sprawled most mornings in front of the television, munching snacks and watching House M.D. on loop. It was a sobering thought that, in that much time, Gregory House, MD, saved many, many poor souls.
When guilt and the realisation of the impending return of the children from school would strike, I would get up, sit myself down with a book, settle myself in the sun, gaze far into the distance and think, yes, there, reflections would just come streaming in — maybe after just a short nap, to get that brain fresh. Those were sweet naps, mind you — no, I won’t let you take that away — broken only by the jarring doorbell.
No worries. The car cleaner, the house help, the ironing lady, the gardener, they may all come knocking through the morning — but during lazy afternoons even India leaves Indians alone. So that would be my time, I thought. No book, no settling in, no cosy bed this time, but hard chair and computer screen.
A thought would strike, I would begin typing it out, and then, eyes would drift to that other window open on the screen, or that ping on the phone. Another Twitter or Facebook message? What could it be? What’s a few seconds more, really? Who needs reflection, the treacherous mind would wonder. Not the multitudes hanging on 140-character tips.
Hey, no such thoughts, I would tell myself. What the world needs is a few less people on the go, on the uptake, on the out-take. In other words, a few more people taking time to think things out. Just like me.
A walk in the park, that should do the trick. I would step out to a beautiful breeze, a sunset clouded by the evening haze, and children running all around, laughing. Night would fall quickly, with their laughter still filling the air, my mind stuck on the thought of how everything about the world might change but not children running down a slope, arms outstretched, pretending to fly. Mine own this day would have to wait, though. “Mumma” needed to connect, with her inner self, draw up bigger plans.
Mine was not to enjoy but to reason why. So night would have to suffice after all, post dinner and a hasty rush of domesticity.
My head on the pillow, a book back in hand, I would get around finally to reflect, about my day, that line I read, that child I saw, my children, whom I didn’t, the countdown to the holiday ending, the fact that most days, every day, ended like this, and those thoughts that apparently hid in some corner of my mind, waiting still to be dug out. Sleep sounded so much simpler.
Rahul presumably would have an easier time of it. There are many answers that the nation wants to know. I want to ask something different: what will he do after the second such day, or the third, or on the last day?
Now you know why vipassana is so very popular where it is: Myanmar. And why newly victorious Arvind Kejriwal didn’t feel the need for it this time.
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