Monday, 8 June 2015

Gardener

Imagine yourself in a foreign land--known to none other, not even you--and that land is the rough jagged terrain untrodden by aught but your ideas-- that land is your mind.

All your life you have cultivated this land with your own weak and trembling fingers. You have torn out the weeds, bloody weeds that threatened to desecrate the sanctity of this land. You tore them out with no gloves nor thimble, you tried to make that land ordered and well-tended. Then that land sprouted nothing for years, until one summer, there was an acre of green grass. And you were happy.

Gradually, that land found flowers and seedlings. It became ordered, beautiful, a garden of pleasure--all cultivated by your pain.

Then there was a storm.

That storm undid all your good work. The flowers were wasted and dead, the leaves dried and withered. The terrain was muddy...and a week after, the weeds sprouted again. Where were your neat ideas? Where were your well cultivated thoughts? Indeed, you found nothing.

Your mind, your very mind had let you down. You stared in dismay.

In Bengali, we have one word that can mean both heart and mind, it's mon. From the Sanskrit manas, which is both heart and mind and also, overwhelmingly so, consciousness.

Then you think--do I have no power? do I have no control?--you are a weak gardener, you have failed your acre of green grass. The grass turned brown, the weeds with their bloody roots... but somewhere, the social theorist whispered...roots are always bloody.

I know I can write--I write when my consciousness fails me, when it plunges into that space between the stomach (the Bengali's treasure, pride, legacy) and the heart, I feel the letters form, and I calm down. I write. But can I speak? Can I represent myself? Can I say: yes, these indeed are my thoughts. This is my knowledge. This is my belief--and that perhaps is my glorious error.

Then from the void: Be not a gardener but a cultivator. Be of use, do not aspire for prettiness.