What a single person can do in this world…
Hello, or as a Sikh would say with hands folded and head titled slightly forward, Satsiriakalji (Sat Siri Akalji).
I am humbled by you, the followers of this site.
Never did I imagine that anyone would be interested in my writing. Albeit that my follower numbers are relatively small in the scheme of things, I am truly taken aback. Thank you, thank you.
Let me also extend my apologies for not responding to your emails. As many of you may know, I have kept myself technologically illiterate on purpose. This means that I get to pen my essays using, you know, an actual pen and pieces of paper, and that they then go through some alchemical process rendering them printed words on a screen which you then are able to peruse. Basically, I rely on others; and they have assured me that answering emails requires an altogether different alchemical sleight-of-hand than readying my essays for publication.
I do indeed want to respond to each email individually, but am caught between lacking the technological know-how and the time of others to enable me to do so. Also, I am of a generation where the flourish of the fountain pen, the faint scratch of nib across paper, is the only proper way to communicate in writing with another person, an investment of time, labour and care that the clackety-clack of a keyboard lacks.
I recall how intrigued I was the first time I watched a quill expert at his task. I was hooked. Many years later, at school, I relished the opportunity to write with the steel tip nib from the inkwell in our desk. However, the exercise only lasted the one session, never to be repeated again. The interaction of blotting paper, ink smudge and the precision with which to use that instrument has lived with me since, even as the biro stole a march on the beloved fountain pen. The inkwell died an unceremonious death, and the world moved on. After the biro came its space-age version – a thing you could write with under water, upside down and so forth. Regrettably, the speed of dictation at school meant I too had to conform. I too became a Biroite. This was the age when men carried in their breast pocket a row of three to four Biro pens; red, blue, black, and the occasional green one too.
In spite of these considerations and quirks of mine, and at the risk of penning what might appear a blanket response to everybody, my sense of moral hospitality and courtesy have led me to this brief message to you all – from which I trust and hope that you will each take that which you need and want.
My father, a very handsome, happy, humorous, jolly, turban wearing fellow, always dressed in double-breasted or three-piece suits, with turn-up trousers, carried his fountain pens in the inside breast pocket. This flamboyant gentleman invariably had a matching tie and pocket square adorning his outside breast pocket. He loved his fountain pens. I have a few of his favourite ones that he passed on to me, the earliest of which has his name engraved on it. In 2041, that pen will be one hundred years old, and it still works.
My father too had to adapt to the dreaded Biro revolution, but in keeping with his delusions of grandeur (I suffer from the same fate too!) he’d purchase a more up-market instrument that came as a set and included a fountain pen, and a pencil. I do the same.
My fountain pen loyalty, like my father’s before me, has never dimmed. When I want to put a smile on a persons face, I write using a fountain pen selected with care for the occasion, emphasizing their qualities of thoughtfulness, consideration and humanity. To see that person smile, and their friends awed, at receiving a missive is still in this day and age a sight I cherish. I love writing letters – they embody as well as impart a tactile connection, which the SMS and email age sorely lacks.
I hope you will accept this excuse of mine as a long-overdue apology for not responding to your emails. But, honestly, if you want to blame somebody, blame the editor for being a product of the twenty-first century and its always-on-the-go stresses.
So, what have my essays – and more importantly, your readership of them – achieved?
1. A women’s domestic violence group from the Far East contacted me to express their appreciation for my ‘Honour Killing’ essay. Reading it, they were moved to double their efforts in standing firm against domestic violence and honour killing.
2. A university from south India wrote to say that it was henceforth using my essays to teach students how to write English. Yes, even I was a tad embarrassed by that accolade since I am not English, and English was the fourth language I had to learn.
3. The head of a spiritual Sikh ‘body’ in the UK was reprimanded in one of my essays; I hear that he has gone on to modify his words and actions in accordance with the insight I provided.
4. A universal misquote by the Sikhs, which had continued unchallenged for over two centuries, was corrected in one of the essays, and has had a global impact.
5. Sikh television stations in the UK took on board my comments about their lack of professionalism, which change I am confident will lead to them starting on the path to being taken seriously.
6. Sikhs globally are now readdressing their ill thought out Sikh calendar revamp following my most recent essay.
7. Globally, the security apparatus’ persecution and invasion of individuals’ privacy has been amended after I went live about ‘Police Brutality’ and how my family suffers. This is an ongoing battle of course, but change is beginning to happen.
8. In an ongoing dialogue with the security apparatus, in October 2015 I shared with them the glaring gaps in security at airports and the ways in which these could be exploited. The emphasis was that a system is only as good as its weakest link.
9. My essays have led to a collection of new research and ‘out of the box’ thinking. Albeit that I receive no credit, it is heartening to see changes in attitude, thinking and approaches that will in time come to have global benefits.
All of the above progress and any that lie in the future are made possible only because WordPress has given people like me a platform to share our insight. And in writing my essays all I am doing is executing a duty entrusted to me; nothing more, nothing less.
I extend my good wishes for the coming twelve months to each one of you, as well as to all those whom you care for and love. I hope each one of you disowns instances and feelings of annoyance, agitation, and aggression.
Please, relish each moment, and not because it could be your last, but because each moment can only be itself, it comes and then goes, and cannot be replicated. So enjoy it.
May you find balance, serenity and poise in your life. May you also gain deeper awakening, and make peace your mantra.
May the inner purity in each of you bless your own selves; and to the atheists I say, may the natural environment invoke a deeper and more peaceful introspection for your ongoing benefit.
I leave you with a quote penned three decades ago: ‘A bull (Adam), a cow (Eve) and their calf (Apple) are grazing. It is the middle of the night. In a distant building, a late-night party is in full-swing. Apple enquires ‘Why do not humans respect the beauty that is night?’ Adam replies ‘In their ignorance they do not realise; however, when they eventually evolve into animals, then they too will understand and roam like us in this heaven…’ (Avtar)
…my love, affection and care extends to you all.