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Thursday, August 18, 2016

akhir love khudhi dena padega (after all, love has to be given in person) …

It’s perhaps after many weeks that I was pulled towards the TV, more driven by the sentiments associated with the annual ritual of 15th August—Independence Day, our ‘tryst with destiny’, Red fort and its ramparts, Prime Minister and his address to the nation. As I tuned in, Prime Minister Modi was about to unfurl the national flag. Thank god, I am on time, I told myself.

The Prime Minister, in his anxiety to be in direct commune with his audience, turning down the usual bullet-proof cage, stood straight in front of the audience, and also shrugging the known path of such addresses—gloating about the schemes launched by the government—focused more on narrating his government’s ambition to offer the nation a kind of government that takes up “responsibility and accountability as the roots” of its governance.

Then, shifting from the known stand of Indian leadership for once, Modi opened a new front against Pakistan right from the Red fort by drawing the world’s attention to the sufferings of the people in Baluchistan and Pak-occupied Kashmir by thanking all those from these areas, who had thanked him for highlighting the attacks against them by the Pakistani government. Listening to him, I wondered, how this PM delivered his address extempore and yet with no faltering, but with impressive pauses and gestures, which incidentally reminded me of the rhetoric of leaders of Byzantine era that I have read about in books.

Following his speech, there were the usual discussions by the elite of the electronic media as to what he said, what he should not have said or should have said, etc.—indeed the usual babble.  And in between, there were those ads, the real money-making tools of the channels. As I hung around, there flashed an ad that caught my attention.

It was pretty cute and thought-provoking, besides being impactful. It runs something like this: a young girl is tying Rakhi to an equally youthful brother, who is sitting on the edge of a sofa with a smartphone sewn to his left hand. Apparently, he is in a great hurry, for he hurries her up—“jaldi karo” (be quick). After finishing tying, as she offers him a sweet, he quickly bites off whatever that has come into his mouth and croaking “hogayana” (Ha, Over!), walks out hurriedly.

As he thus walks out abruptly, that too, so indifferently, the girl, staring at him in bewilderment, utters in a kind of zippy voice: “Ye Kaise bhai hai (what a brother)!” Then immediately, picking up her phone lying on the teapoy—perhaps prompted by its beep—and staring at the message about Rs. 2,100, she, in a surprised but reconciliatory/satisfied tone, mutters: “Ek dam bura bhi nahi hai (Not that bad!)!” This is my refrain of this Paytm ad.  It, of course, serves well the business interests of Paytm.

Interestingly, the ad has something more to communicate than the business interests of Paytm alone. There is indeed an undertone behind what the girl uttered, “Ye Kaise bhai hai”, and that is what is more important to you and me, the viewers who are of late getting addicted to some form of new technologies—internet, smartphone, social media, gaming, etc.  First question first: Why did the girl utter, “Ye Kaise bhai hai (what a brother!)”? The answer is pretty simple and obvious: Having tied the Rakhi, she expected a loving pat on her cheek from her brother, and his caressingly placing a gift in her palms. Instead, the brother walked away hurriedly without even looking at her. Thus, instead   of experiencing the expected warmth from her brother, all that she got was indifference. It was this indifference of her brother that made her involuntarily utter, “Ye Kaise bhai hai!” 

The same girl, however, after seeing the message from her brother about Rs. 2,001, in the same breath, utters, ““Ek dam bura bhi nahi hai!” What she indeed meant by that uttering is: “Yes, he is not all that bad”, for he had transferred his gift to her digitally. Nevertheless, he is bad, for, he didn’t give her what she was looking forward to: the love and warmth of a brother. And hence, mind you, she said, “Not all that bad!”

Just imagine, if only he had waited for a minute more and patted the girl on her cheek or put his palm on her tress and placing the currency in her palm wished her, “mangalmaiho”, how happy she would have been!

It is this personal touch, warmth and love that usually flowed between the relations that we are today glaringly missing, more because of our newfound addiction to gadgets. True, he did what he has been doing for years: did pass on the expected gift to his sister. But where is that personal touch, that love and affection that usually flows between siblings. Indeed, he de-humanized the gift by sending it through his phone.  

Remember, “Face-to-face conversation is the most human” and particularly, when it comes to giving love to someone whom you consider as near and dear; there is no way other than giving it in person. For you cannot ‘digitize’ and transmit love!  For, love has to be live and it becomes live only when it is humanized. Else it merely remains a commodity! Such faceless transactions have a debilitating impact on real relationships. For, such a ‘giver’ remains forever ‘elsewhere’—“Ye Kaise bhai hai!”  

Choice is yours! Choose gadgets functionally for what they do, but certainly not where it affects your social, familial and biological functions.  Instead of being indifferent like the brother in the ad, you need to be fully present in your interactions with people, listen to them all attentively and share love at one-to-one level. Such interactions alone develop your capacity for empathy, and empathizing with your siblings is what giving love is all about. Else, love dies and that puts you always elsewhere—elsewhere from your kith and kin. Akhir (after all), love to khudhi dena padta hai (has to be given in person). Even Lord Vishnu, if he wishes to express his love to Lakshmi—however difficult it might be with two of his hands tied to Sankh (conch) and Chakra while the other two are holding a mace in one and a lotus flower by the other —has to hug her himself! 


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