Who am I ? I am He.
I was trying to call my cooking gas supplier this morning. It had been over 3 weeks since I ordered a cylinder and needless to say I was more than a little hot under the collar when I connected after several attempts and was given the same answer in the same toneless, bored voice that said “ after 3 / 4 days”. When I threatened with dire consequences if it was not delivered immediately, the call was transferred to somebody higher up in the hierarchy. I guess I was just a little too hasty to conclude I was finally getting somewhere, because that ‘somebody’ brought me crashing down to earth with his first question, “ Who are you ?” . The fact that I was one of his paying customers apparently didn’t count for him. What he seemed to want to ensure was that I wasn’t some high ranking police officer, or a bureaucrat , or an MLA, a Corporator or some such VIP he wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of. After a few questions regarding my occupation, my socio-politico-financial status , he seemed to be satisfied enough to repeat the same “3 / 4 days” and hung up on me as unceremoniously as he would shoo away a wino at his door.
Then I decided to play my ace in the hole, called him right back and told him I was Anna Hazare, and that in the next hour he was to expect a morcha of nothing less than 200 such disgruntled Annas at his office. This time it was my turn to hang up on him, and I did it with the confidence of a seasoned con-artist. Needless to say the ruse worked in less than the promised hour and the familiar clangs of a gas cylinder sounded in my corridor.
My purpose was served, and I was about to congratulate myself over a cup of tea, but a thought still rankled. And it got me thinking real hard about his first question “ Who are you ?” What exactly did he mean by that question ? Did he mean “ who” or, “ what” ? What difference did it make to him , and why ? So long I was assured of my gas refill , should it matter to me who or what I was to him ? Of course it shouldn’t. Its only after this conclusion that my mind went on a tangent to pop that age-old question that is potent enough either to drive a man crazy or to make a sage out of him. Who am I ?
I am not sure who it was , John Lennon or Elvis Presley or some sporting legend , who once ran into an admirer when getting out of a departmental store. The fan looked at him, did a double take and said “ Hey, do you know who you are ?” On the face of it, it was as innocuous a question as any , even just a touch funny on the part of that fan, but in reality such a profound one that the superstar felt disillusioned of all his fame, popularity and charisma. That question stopped the him in his tracks and stayed with him for the rest of his life.
While I would have to be a narcissist of the first waters to think of myself worthy of ever being a sage , I am thick-skinned enough not to go crazy if I don’t find the answer. Being a music or sports icon too is just as out of my league. The Beatles come fairly close to describing me with their ‘nowhere man’. But even the most non-descript , faceless man has a conscience that might pop this question to him one day when he is looking in the mirror.
Now, let me see….I am a human being, a male, a hindu, an Indian, a Maharashtrian , a commerce graduate, a tax consultant, a son, a father, a brother, a husband, a friend, an adversary , and so on and so forth…. I am all of these but surely that’s not all there is to me. There have been times when all these identities have felt nothing more than just roles to play, even disguises to be worn when these personalities clashed with each other. At the end of each clash I have found no comfort with any of these garbs and have felt the need of something more to help me feel grounded and oriented.
Countless people since time immemorial have come and gone, some after grappling with the question, some blissfully oblivious of it. The ancient scriptures had to have been a result of some meticulous research and impeccable groundwork in order to have come up with the theory of “ Ko hum ? So hum” ( Who am I ? I am He ) . Because, if we accept and believe in the one supreme, divine power as the creator of this universe, irrespective of what name you give it , its only logical to presume that creation was meant to be the basic theme for every action of ours, for every thought of ours.
Of course its not for everybody to be a creator in the same league as the greats in any field such as science, commerce, art, spirituality etc, but understanding the difference between good and evil and making a difference in the right direction while you are here , is something everyone of us can do. This is exactly what Anna Hazare is doing and God help anybody who dare ask him “Who are you?” Such is the power of the man. The man , who has known firsthand, both the power of the gun as well as the power of truth.
Mind you, even after all this brain-storming I am not any closer to the answer to this question as I was when I started. People have spent lifetimes in its pursuit, so I know I haven’t a hope in hell of finding it in just one and a half pages of doodling. But I am convinced I would be on the right track in my quest , so long as I make a positive difference , in my own little way, to the quality of my life and that of my fellow humans. I should then have no qualms about identifying myself with the name that my parents gave me.
After all, Anna Hazare too, is not as much a name as it is a way of life, a thought of The Creator.
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