Friday, September 9, 2011

Escape to Dreamland

Raman Menon hailed from a well respected family of upper caste Nairs’ in the erstwhile princely state of Cochin. The aristocracy that  Menon clans among Nairs’ claim is more self acclaimed than bestowed by extra terrestrial largesse or by  former princes. They generally are like the British aristocracy of India with the stiff upper lip and the “Gaulish”, or even flattened nose up in the air. They seem to believe and convey the spirit of pristine Nair heritage and culture.

But Raman Menon seldom cared much for the trappings of the surname .He was an ambitious and fun loving person. He held a respected position in the State bureaucracy, added to his family lineage and its social standing the ground was set to propel him into a much higher orbit. He was young, handsome and with masculine charm.

He married into a family of Menons’ from Plaghat which was in the erstwhile Madras Presidency. The bride was a well educated, sophisticated lass an ‘haute couture’ and alumni of Yale in the USA. But the alliance was perhaps a serious flaw in the course of Raman Menon’s life. The incompatibility of the relationship saw Mr.Menon file for divorce after much acrimony.  And the marriage ended with the bang it made when it began. Mr. Menon was stressed out on the course to the divorce and after. The marriage lasted about a year and it was a year of utmost turmoil.

Not to be lurched out in search of a compatible partner, the Menons’ arranged another bride for the young man – a distant cousin. Raman Menon was married again .But the ghoulish ill luck serenaded with Mr Menon as tragedy as nothing else  can be, the bride died less than six months into the marriage. She died of lymphoma. It was again darkness at noon. Raman Menon was in tatters his life devastated. A rising professional graph twisted like a mangled ladder and Mr.Menon was at loss to pick up the threads yet again. Innuendos did the round, cruel ones too about Mr Menon’s ill-luck and why fate will never give comfort or longevity to the woman who is his consort.

He vanished from the society and from the country. He settled in a foreign land and never came back to the country or the town of his birth and life. He, an agnostic became a theist and joined a Hindu religious outfit.  He spent all his leisure and time outside work at the ashram. He changed his name to Sudhama. He lived frugal and walked about like an ascetic. Unlike the fellow members of the society who saw their liaison with the congregation as a luxury never to be parted with, Raman Menon was hermitic. He ate the insipid food that devotees brought. While he travelled outside, he walked much distance like a nomad, living on the tit bits from compassionate beings. He reminded of the Jain monks on the long road to what they believe is nirvana and salvation. Very rarely did he open up, but that was only to confide that this life at the ashram was his dream and a Calling.

A person who claimed agnostic beliefs, now when tragedy struck him in succession turns into a hermit and ascetic! A person who harboured utopian fantasies and dreams about living! Though the story is real, here the tragic happenings in the man’s life are only a metaphor which we all have to face at different times in our lives. And to less fortunate souls the tempest stays longer. Tragedy need not be per se, but may be dejection, disgust, frustrations, devastations or anything that is good enough to stress us out, persistently. And then it can be the time for woolgathering and hope for bliss and mirth in things we would have loved to indulge! For some it will begin the frantic groping for an escape route. 

There is indeed a life out there, like I mentioned in the post “The Road Not Taken” that beckons but is not mine anymore. When it did matter, when I could have trodden the “road not taken”, I did not. In fact it was more out of conditioning and also unawareness of its pathos. I feel awed and envious about some friends and ordinary men who despite the constraints they face could manage much extraordinary. That they have not taken a cowardly path of an ill clad, unwashed, smelly  absconder who claims abstinence ,but in fact are great escape artists who can put Houdini to his pale shadowy self. .But have within the limitations of  social living, has managed to  visit  a life of the liberated  and  wanderer,  like  birds that  transcend land and sea to migrate, occasional journeys of bliss and mirth! To the dream that is Zion, a travellers Zion.

But alas, man will not see the paradise in hand ,that will aid him with wings to fly towards the fantastic that are his dreams and only if he knows what it is for a paradise to be  lost, shall he see the beacon that always was alight. 


Mélange said...

Well Anil,I must say this is such a multi-layered subject which we can't come into a conclusion narrating a story or experience and so on.A subject completely personal and relative.Like the one in Chinthavishtayaya Syamala'.Whoever Menon he is,It's his idea,completely his own.People may vary completely depending upon the experiences,situations,age and all.

There was this girl of 16 who couldn't come into terms with what Siddhartha done to Yasodhara to get enlightened.Anyway from a woman's point of view she had different conclusions which finally made her write a poem called "Yasodhara".Now after decades,she thinks it need lot of courage and reasoning to get out of luxury and subtlety surrounding us,and so Poor Sidhartha can be spared.She sometimes gaze at what she wrote.She then realises that too was a state of mind converted into a poem,of hers.

Whatever path a person choose,if we are into judgement,it will definitely be about the person who has chose the same.The person brings a certain level of definition to what he write and choose.Sometimes we need to go beyond words,ideas,religions and isms to see what the person is into.

He who knows and knows that he knows is a wise,follow him..

Balachandran V said...

He who knows not and knows not he knows not...

Sandy said...

I must be looney here...Again, I will try to leave a comment...I like your story, "Escape to Dreamland". It's a bit sad in that I think his mind became bitter and maybe a bit twisted; he found himself with some pretty serious moves in life...

anilkurup said...

@ Melange

-I appreciate your eloquent comment on the post.
The Post just came to my mind because I got a call from the protagonist in the anecdote and also was at the same time mulling over how ideas surge in us proportional to the state of mind. This, I wonder if some one will deny. John Milton's "Paradise Lost"was I gather a direct cause of his state of mind. This goes especially with poetry.

Coming to lay people like you me and any other , we are influenced in our word, deed and letter we pen by our moods. I'm sure a happy merry moments will not evoke passion for penning a poem on agony or melancholia .

The person I referred to in my post and the fictional character in the film may be related and not. I do not think that we could presume that it depends upon as you said, age , character etc before coming to conclusion. We are discussing not concluding..

It is in fact a bizzaire route taken to what is perceived as comfort and peace.A morphine.Deluding into an illusion.

What could happen if frustrations and setbacks over power our faculties.People do react differently.But is it alright to wish away such reactions as corollary ,triggered by ones own ideas, experience , situations age etc.And it will defy logic and substance?
We can attribute a similar alibi to a felon as well?

Siddartha's case was a classic example that dosen't fit in here His renunciation was at the prime of his youth when life was blooming personally. But he saw a wider picture of the world and life. And that brought forth some golden age in Philosophical thought. How can we compare his decision and the consequence with you, me or anybody escaping from reality to cocoon in some place?

Ha you said it - the poem Yashodara was written from a given state of mind.

There is nothing here to say that this person chose something beyond isms. I would like to see if there is any realm beyond all that as you suggest. Experiences may mellow some and make some bellicose, make some enfeeble , others determined. The choice is ours.

anilkurup said...

@ Balan

A tooter who tooted a flute
Tried to tutor two tutors to toot
Said the two to the tooter
Is it harder to toot or
To tutor two tutors to toot?

Do you make anything out of this?

anilkurup said...

@ Sandy,
Thanks for the comment. I do not think you are looney.
In fact I wonder if it is me who is a looney or some other when I see similar people and such reactions.

Yes in way you are right , bitterness too can bring-forth strange thoughts and actions

kavita said...

Sorry Anil , i am not sure if i really understand this but after reading it several times here are my thoughts-- Living is an art and escape to dreamland is an option too.

anilkurup said...

@ Kavita,

I thank you for the patience you exercised.
I can only laugh about myself. However I feel that the comment which Melange posted and the reply I pasted perhaps tells a bit more .
I endorse without demure your statement, "Living is an art and escape to dreamland is an option too".

Mélange said...

Experiences may mellow some and make some bellicose, make some enfeeble , others determined. The choice is ours."-This is fine.What I was trying to mention is,when it comes to judgement (which we only do if it comes to our 'circle'),we may have to consider what a 'person' you are goin to judge about.It's not about escaping Anil.It's about understanding to me.Rest is known.

How can we compare his decision and the consequence with you, me or anybody escaping "-Dear Anil,for me it's not about escaping.Escaping is not spiritual.It's a different plight,I think we can discuss in some other occasion.But when it comes to Sidhartha,still we may have many other perspectives,many to come yet from generations to follow.I personally think at least a small percentage among us,is going through similar mindset (Sidhartha being away from the common lot and witnessing the pains at last)in a given time.Some may carry that with them even while they are into the so called material life.Most have disappointment why they couldn't follow where as few admit that they didn't had the courage to do so.Still I find it valuable as a person.

(I am of no opinion that Lord Buddha had something new there as a philosophy.When we go deeper,no philosopher whether he is Sidhartha,Jiddu or Osho have come up with completely fresh,since it's all there in our roots.Being our own respo,we might not be able to go through and analyse what's suitable for us.Being not semitic, we are not compelled to learn.Sidhartha's situations gave him a chance.So there's nothing wrong in comparisons for a genuine mind Anil-(I know this is again another topic,sorry that it's all inter-connected in a way.)

Thank you for always coming up with something rational.Cheers !

Insignia said...


Read this post thrice :) Humans are so complicated to understand.

I think I understood partially after reading the comments here except for Balan's and your response to him :)

Maybe the tragedy that struck the person back to back realigned his belief, make him realize purpose in life and so on?

He chose a path which might give him an escape route from his drudgery and has found solace. Thats how he could handle it. If it were you or me; maybe we would have chosen some other path.

Life - he is living it on his terms.

anilkurup said...

@ Melange

The first para of “understanding the others judgement” – if the judgement or the action of a person is considered sacrosanct then there will be no room for debate and discussion. Because we consider the other inviolable.
The point here is spiritual escapism, though I intended to touch on the act of Houdini per se. Whether the escape route and the intended result are got is different matter. If questioned -it will be like did you get tipsy after consuming the spirit- the opium?
Since you seem to have been touched by Krishnamurthy and here is a short para of his, on the subject, “ what is the impetus behind the search for God, and is that search real? For most of us, it is an escape from actuality. So, we must be very clear in ourselves whether this search after God is an escape , or whether it is a search for truth in everything- truth in our relationships, I seeking God merely because we are tired of this world and its miseries then it is an escape route. Then we create God, and therefore it is not God. The God of the temple, of the books is not God; obviously it is a marvellous escape...”
And yet again, the story of Siddartha is incomparable with the story I mentioned. And there is nothing wrong in discussing an act , though each deed has a fertile ground to commit.
That is my take. Thanks that you enjoy the discussion.

@ Insignia,

B, now you too see the whole matter complicated. Tremendous patience to read it twice. I'm sorry .

Reminds me of Dale Carnegie who after publishing many books and essays on self improvement, living, positive mind and even analyzing and rubbishing the act of suicide as a cowardly escape, killed himself, if we believe one version related to his demise.Ironical indeed this life.!

Erratic Thoughts said...

Escaping to dreamland is a good option if its not running away from the situation at hand.The need to escape for some is the constant innuendos from the society and them reminding us about our frustrations,it can be very suffocating.You start questioning your own beliefs and it can get quite traumatic.
Making peace with the past could help,but it is indeed a slow process.

anilkurup said...

@ Erratic Thoughts,

One must have the courage to question ones belief. And must also have the strength to accept if ones belief is proved wrong. The trauma is more when one deludes into believing that the contrary to ones belief doesn't exist.
In fact hallucinating is a means to be free. That happens in all of us but in varying degrees.
Don't you think so?