At that time I had dreams of retiring at the age of 50 - and to have an Ashram (a dream which got buried when I wrote this auto-biographical piece a couple of years later: Aseem - A Night without an End)... and to live in an “apple orchard” (don’t know now, though, why this seemed to be so important in life then).
A couple of years later, I had tried to capture my experience of this transition in a piece “The End of Heroism”… some excerpts:
(a friend advises me)“Decide very carefully. You may get other offers, but once you get into a job, it is very difficult to get out of it.” I know, If I get into this job – any job – that would be the final end of Utopias and Ashrams>.
...But inwardly, I know that it is the final goodbye to dreams. I am very distinctly aware of the choice-point, the choice to mould my destiny.
Nevertheless, I accept the offer.
On 1st of March, I come to Bhopal.
…I try to put my prophetic zeal in my training programmes. I tell my participants, “Why should we wait for someone else to change in order to be happy. Our happiness is our responsibility.”
But I sell dreams, dreams of Utopia, on industrial democracy, of participative management, of profit-sharing, blah, blah, blah…. “But darkness, hot, sweltering life has become us. Our soul is buried in coal-dust. How can we believe in your ideals?” one of them queries one day, and I perceive the human gap between the verbal Utopias and the experience of one’s own frailty.
The days of the foaming prophets and their wide-eyed adherents are gone. People I meet are godless, hollow men, conscious of their accidental existence, men without creed or faith, except for their superficial commitments to a pointless process we call living. And living for them, is less a matter of will and pleasure, and more of a compulsion. I am again and again reminded of my favourite belief: man is more a potentiality than an actuality. Now I see a gaping abyss between the potential and the actual. Living contradicts life.
….Return of the prodigal son? Settling down? The end of Heroism? Conformity to social convention? Maybe, yes!
…depends on how one looks at it.
…Perhaps hero myth is not a part of my collective unconscious. Icarus, Perseus and Daeulus were free beings, unbound by the cycle of karmas> - but to my oriental consciousness, perhaps, they are alien, lacking the continuity of Life. Besides, intimacy can be as meaningful as ideology>. To grow and share with someone can itself be a fulfilling experience.
I may not hope for an ashram, but there is still the apple orchard.
One is part of the movement. No one betrays the movement, only grows beyond its “focus of convenience”. The movement goes on - individuals only make their contributions to the collective cause, to the purpose of life-force.
I have fulfilled my role in the collective growth. The ideological hero is dead. In its place, a mundane, romantic hero is born…
Looking back, through the haze of 32-yrs, perhaps Life has not been such a bad deal.
… and so life goes on…