My life spent to follow you
And I discover so sadly
That I’m not you.
I accept my fate but not you,
My reality concerns you
And you forget, I’m not you.
My rebirth makes me happy
But not you,
‘Cause you want me to be you.
My failure is my success
Feel no more pain in me,
Remember I’m not you.
Your offer distress me
I’m shocked, irate too
You forget I’m not you.
“What do you want to be in future, son?”
“I want to be a writer.”
Pat came the reply from Jatin, the youngest son of the famous writer Girin Bose. Not a very unusual reply indeed. Right from childhood, this seven year old boy had seen his father surrounded by books, always writing something. He had noticed how his father’s innumerable admirers would come to their house for intellectual enlightenment. A sense of pride mixed with awe overwhelmed him. It was no wonder that he could not fathom his two elder brothers’ indifference to the literati their famous father used to mesmerize. Robin and Sourin would deliberately dissociate themselves from their father’s arena, opting for two different fields, the former going into law and the latter choosing management, much to their father’s disappointment. Girin’s only hope was Jatin .
Jatin’s aspiration to become a write brought him very close to his father. There was no lack of careful grooming on Girin’s part. Jatin’s insatiable hunger for knowledge was always taken care of. He was trained to be a voracious reader and his idolization of his father made the task much easier for Girin. By the time Jatin was twelve, he became a storehouse of knowledge, a matter of pride for his father while that of ridicule for his brothers. Jatin’s mother had very little role in raising her kids the way she wanted. The timidity of this housewife of an eminent and arrogant writer didn’t make her motherly duties easy. She had to be satisfied with her role of taking care of her sons’ mundane needs, both in sickness and in health.
Since the birth of her three children she had to abide by the unwritten law that their great father would take care of their mental needs being an intellectual as he was. And he took responsibility for the refinement of the capacities his children had already inherited. It was a miracle that his two sons didn’t follow in their father’s footsteps and their mother silently thanked God for that. She used to get scared while watching her youngest son. A failure or a success on her husband’s part would equally sadden her. She didn’t want Jatin to be disappointed and hurt, nor did she like to see him emulate her husband. Her ultimate resort was her God and a silent prayer everyday for the happiness and peace of her three sons.
When Girin realized Jatin was old enough to give him gurudakshina, he summoned him one day to his library and showed him a magazine which asked for contributions from teenagers. Jatin was ecstatic since he thought he could, at last, show his prowess in the field that would be his future. He was given a topic on which he was supposed to write an article. As a crown prince he had been gathering all his ammunition for this battle field; he could even smell his victory. That night he couldn’t sleep out of sheer excitement. He was preparing himself for the maiden venture.
The next day as soon as he came back from school, he went straight to his room and locked it from inside with a saintly detachment. He sat on his chair and looked out of the window. The sun was setting and the sky was hued with a pale yellowish orange tone. What better setting could an author expect for his debut? He scribbled a few words in the copy; dissatisfied, crossed them out. His determination and enthusiasm knew no bounds. With renewed fervor he went ahead with his article pulling all his resources together. Determined to leave an indelible effect on his readers he wrote about a few pages. Once he thought he had come to a satisfactory conclusion he wanted to revisit the article.
Unfortunately, the contentment and satisfaction he expected was absent. He could visualize the dissatisfaction in his father’s eyes. From his childhood he wanted to please the person he admired most and once this opportunity was given, how could he fail? Despaired, he tore all those pages and started afresh. This time he decided to give the job of the critic to his father. He thought he was being too harsh on himself. It is always better to have an objective opinion and he knew all said and done, his father would be anything but partial. Determined, he devoted the next two hours to the article and as soon as he finished with much trepidation he went to his father’s library.
Fortunately, he found his father alone, reading a book. Girin looked at his perturbed son and beckoned him. Looking at the copy in his son’s hand, he guessed the reason for the sweat on Jatin’s forehead. He knew that in his family, only to this boy he was the epitome of literary genius and he was thankful for that. Despite all the accolades and honour he received from the outside world he would always feel a pang of emptiness and despair whenever he looked at his own image drawn by his two sons and his wife. Under no circumstances, he could disappoint Jatin.
Girin took the copy from Jatin’s hand and started reading the article. The frown on his father’s forehead made Jatin more nervous and shaky. Once Girin finished reading he kept the copy on the table. Now it was the father’s turn to feel shaky. What has his son written? Is it the result of a rigorous exercise for so many years? Has he failed to be a proper guru? Thousands of questions crowded Girin’s mind and he was so inundated that for a few minutes he couldn’t utter any words. How can he tell Jatin that he is no good at writing? He couldn’t shatter Jatin’s dream at this vulnerable age although his own dream was shattered anyway. At the same time, he knew he couldn’t let his son remain in deception and lies. He regained his composure and prepared himself to tell Jatin the truth and nothing but the truth.
Girin brought Jatin close to his side and took extra care not to be insensitive while revealing the truth.
“Son, there are two categories of people in the field of literature; to the one belong the writers and to the other category belong the readers. Remember, both of them are complement to each other. Just the way it’s difficult to find good writers, the same way good readers aren’t easily available. There are very few readers who really enjoy a good book and are able to critically appreciate it. Count your blessings, son, if I say, you belong to this second category. People like us will always depend on you for your wise evaluation of our books. I will, therefore, advise you to go ahead with your reading and enlighten me with your valuable discussion.”
Saying these few words Girin stopped and he felt so exhausted as though he had just climbed a mountain. He looked at Jatin, tears caressing his young cheeks. The father’s heart bled for his son and he hugged him tightly. Jatin, for the first time in his life ignored his father and rushed out of the room, went straight to his mother and cried putting his head on her lap. For some mysterious reason, he found much solace when his mother gently stroked his hair. She didn’t ask what had happened nor did she try to give him any advice. Once her son poured his emotion, she took him to the kitchen, made his favourite meal and fed him with her own hands. Jatin didn’t object. He looked at his mother. How could he ignore her for such a long time? He became mature and wise instantly and probably for the first time had a long, heart-to-heart conversation with her, certainly not about literature but mainly about school and studies.
Since that day Jatin’s visit to the library became less frequent; unless his father summoned him, he purposely avoided that part of the house. He realised that by discussing literature with all and sundry he had betrayed a touch of conceit. He decided to devote most of his time to studies and tried to have normal exchange with his mother and two brothers who, of course, were delighted at this sudden change in his behaviour. His precociousness used to put the two elder brothers off and they felt it was fortunate that he started acting his age. However, Jatin’s love for books was too deep rooted. And he had to carefully arrange his visits to the library when his father wasn’t home.
With time Jatin had somehow learned to be at peace with his failure as a writer. Jilted by his first love he tried to find comfort in science and went steady with Physics. Einstein and Newton became much dearer to him than Keats or Shakespeare. Newton’s laws of motions or Einstein’s theory of relativity started looking more beautiful than his first love. He even laughed at himself thinking how desperate he was to prove himself as an author. This gradual change in his attitude made everybody in his family happy except of course, his father. The imbalance between the two parts of the family was stark visible. The lone figure on one side was hardly communicating with his strong opponents in his family. There was no dearth of his admirers though; they visited their shrine everyday and offered their respects.
However, even a person like Girin got tired of such adulation and praises and found them superficial. He tried his best to be a normal father and husband. But he only knew how to be revered. Since the day he had been betrayed by his last hope he didn’t initiate to get close to Jatin, rather expected his son to make the first move; after all, he wasn’t cruel, he only revealed the truth and tried to be transparent enough. Then why does he have to suffer this punishment for such a long time? Why would he be given the cold-shoulder by his own family? He surely didn’t deserve the treatment meted out to him by his own flesh and blood. He made his wife responsible for this frozen relationship between him and his sons and he felt there was enough power in her gentleness which helped her bond so well with her sons, creating a large vacuum between him and the three sons.
Girin is now seventy. He has achieved a lot in his life but he figures he has lost more. He would have died peacefully if at least he could see his youngest child have a name as an author. Who knows, Jatin might cherish his lifelong desire still in his mind? As a dutiful father, Girin must see to it that Jatin’s dream is fulfilled. He forgets that Jatin has come a long way from that eventful day but he vividly remembers the scene in the library when his son had left him in tearful eyes. He has become old and subdued; his confidence not as high as before. He somehow plucks his courage and nervously calls his youngest son to the library. He is determined not to repeat the scene that took place in the same place so many years back. Once Jatin enters the room, he says to him,
“Son, before I die, I want to give you something which you must accept as a farewell gift from me. I don’t think, your two elder brothers deserve this gift.”
Jatin has a frown on his forehead and waits for his father to open the Pandora’s Box.
“Son, I’ve a few articles which are yet to be published. After my death you can publish them in your name since you’ve always wanted to be an author. Nobody will question you since you are the son of a gifted writer and you too deserve to possess a little talent to write even if it comes at a later stage of your life. Ignore the sceptics if they think that the resemblance in our writing is too uncanny.”
Dismayed, Jatin looks at his father dumbfounded; he doesn’t recognise this man. This time his wound is beyond repair.