Saturday, 13 July 2013

When Walking On The Beaten Path Becomes A Challenge.

‘When you look back in life, the biggest regret shall not be over something you had done, but something you had not done’- Mark Twain.
The scant respect I had for mentors who were selflessly willing to guide me during my teenage years is a telling indictment of my attitude. There was the iconic Brother Murphy in high school and later, during my college days it was our principal, Shri Kodolikar (Sir, as we called him).

I was literally letting most of my potential go down the drain and Sir knew it. Our strong relationship strengthened because of his being a co-resident of our apartment complex. He would drop by once a week. A well read, simple and jovial person, he was very disarming by nature. That was perhaps one reason I took his advice a bit too lightly.

He had an enviable personal collection of Books, from classics to the contemporary, fiction to non-fiction. We were the beneficiaries of his largesse: he would hand pick books for me to read. I distinctly recall most of them although over three decades have since elapsed! Among them were a few by the
renowned Biographer, Irving Stone: ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy’ on Michael Angelo and ‘Lust for Life’ on Van Gogh. Somehow, among all the books they had the most profound impact on me.
A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.’- Wiiliam Styron

I recalled my discomfort and anger when our Professor for English quoted from a story: ‘artists are weak men’. Both these books highlighted that disturbing aspect about artists, painters and sculptors. The reason it upset me was because my art was something I cherished. My Art teacher at School spotted that talent in me and suggested I join Sir J. J. School of Arts (Mumbai’s venerated institution for aspiring Artists). Pencil profile sketches with shading were my forte. I had no formal training, yet my work had quite a few admirers: one portrait done by me had been retained by a noted Cardiologist.

I was disturbed by the aspersions cast on artists and indirectly at me: I found an uncanny similarity between the eccentricities of these legends and my own. Subconsciously, I had developed a dislike for artists. One of my strong points (or weak points) is that I don’t do things in half measures. I did what an impulsive seventeen year old would do. Overnight, I abruptly gave up all my drawing activities- just like that. Would you believe it, I gave away my most valuable possessions- my art kits, paints, brushes, pencils, et al, to my nephew. I retained not even a sample of my work.

There was a sense of resentment against Sir. My immature mind made me believe he was the person responsible for me giving up what was my finest skill, my obsession.

Today after having been a successful entrepreneur and professional for over three decades, I realise how timely and vital his intervention was. Separated parents mandated that I first and foremost bear my familial responsibility towards mom and my sister. My ailing maternal uncle who had magnanimously supported our family since my childhood, needed to be relieved of the pressures of managing a vast business single-handedly.

I had to adapt myself to what was demanded of me and rightfully expected of me. I would be a coward to shirk this responsibility.
A pragmatic approach towards life meant a huge change from my earlier self-centred attitude. What I learned while initially assisting my uncle who was a pioneering entrepreneur and as good a family man as you would come across, was priceless.

Slowly but surely, I filled the large shoes given to me.

Do I regret having totally forsaken art, my passion? Financial security, a sense of having been a responsible family man and some gray hair bringing much needed wisdom, are irreplaceable. Wisdom to realise that the two books given by Sir had changed the course of my life: for the better.

There’s always the right time for everything. Destiny has its ways. God has now given me this glorious opportunity to express myself in another creative form:
Writing. I’ve taken to it like a fish to water
! If Books brought about a transformation in me, am excited about returning the favour!

Gratitude to Dr.Amit Nagpal for inviting me to write this story and selecting it for his wonderful, creative e-Book:
'And One Fine Day. The Power of Storytelling'

Get a FREE Download of this e-Book here.
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