Loss of Innocence! (Tale of two relocations Part 4)
Thou shalt never visit the land of plenty
Home then appears still more sordid and old
It just isn’t every Sudama’s destiny
That a boon will turn everything to gold
(Reference: Sudama, the childhood friend of Lord Krishna, on his visit to his friend, is dazzled by the opulence of Krishna’s capital. He returns to find his humble home turned in to palace thanks to a miracle wrought by Krishna.)
Here, I take the meaning of “sordid” as moral sordidness – and not the material poverty. And by moral sordidness I mean our bankrupt public life.
When in India, I had got so accustomed to seeing and reading about the terrible poverty and corruption, that my mind had become desensitized. I remember having read about a statement made by a foreigner traveling in India. He says – “People ask me if I am not shocked by the terrible poverty, lack of cleanliness, neglect of basic necessities and corruption in this county. Of course, I did feel shocked – but not by these things. I was shocked by the indifference of the well-to-do Indians to these realities of India.” I think this is a very precise observation. My state of mind, when I returned to India, was the same as that of this foreign traveler.
My long stay in America had lowered my immunity, both at the level of body and the mind. I realized that the things which others could take as ‘normal’ troubled me no end. In a way it was the proverbial ‘loss of innocence.’
I realized that many of those caught in this mess decide to go back in a fit of frustration. It did not happen to me though. One cannot bring about a change in one’s environment if one refuses to even look at it. I was sure that I could make a difference – however miniscule – in my surrounding. I was also convinced that my best chance at it was by living in India.
By the way, I also must put on record that neither me nor my family were inconvenienced in anyway as we settled in India.
Born Again Citizen (Concluding part 5. Unpublished).