A HAPPY ANNIVERSARY
‘I AM JUST AN ORDINARY MAN’
At the stroke of the midnight hour, the ordinary man closed his eyes as he sat in the shadows. Only the desk lamp was on and the blank screen of the computer stared at him.
He remembered that day, when at last he had declared to all those who heard him, that he was just an Ordinary Man. It happened as he was returning home. The road was slightly wet with the remnants of a light drizzle and he was walking slowly avoiding the puddles of water that had collected on the pavement, when he heard a voice calling out from behind him –
“So who do you think you really are?”
He had turned around and found no one. However he replied loudly so that whoever it was hiding in the shadows could hear him –
“Sir, you asked me who I am. What shall I say? I have been asking myself this question for quite some time and reached nowhere.”
“So you think that you are a saint?” the voice again responded
“No sir, I am no saint to throw away everything that I have and go in search of an answer. If I had, I would have been a saint. Don’t you agree, Sir?”
“If that is so, you should have a name. So what is it?” the voice once again responded.
“Well I have a name, but what’s in a name? Sir, you may call me an Ordinary Man.” I replied.
He looked around once again to see who it was. Then it dawned on him that the voice in fact seemed to originate from deep within him.
So as he stood there on that desolate road, he threw his arms skyward towards the moon and the stars and shouted “Hear you all, I am just an ordinary man. Please do not ask me again- who I am?” With that he had returned to his apartment, his head clear from having shed off the burden that he had been carrying for so long. He sat down in front of the computer and typed-
I stand absolved,
Of all the guilt and shame, that eroded,
The entrails of my conscience,
As I shake the shackles from my ankles,
Break away from the bonds
That held me down.
That was exactly a year ago. Now once again the voice woke him up as he was slowly drifting away to sleep.
“Well did people believe you?” the voice asked
“I am not really sure. Some said they believed me, some believed in me and most of the rest have been silent. I really don’t know whether they heard what I said.” he replied.
“I hope now you realize that however loud you shout, you will be heard only if people choose to hear you. You know what was wrong with your statements – you included a vast majority along with you and called them Ordinary. That is not acceptable. If you had shouted ‘We are all extraordinary people’ I am sure that many would have heard you. After all what is there in being ‘Ordinary’. You thought that being ordinary is a satisfactory state of mind. Well it is not. Ask me I shall tell you. I like it when I am called extraordinary and I am sure that when all those who believed in you said that shouting out like you did requires a lot of courage and therefore extraordinary, you must have felt the same despite all your exhortations that you are ordinary.”
Well that was a small dialogue I had with myself on the eve of the first anniversary of my book ‘I am just An Ordinary Man’. Today as I look back at the year that was, I feel elated, in a sense that I have been able connect with at least a small section of the vast number of readers out there. Reviews have come in from genuine well-wishers and readers, which I know have been in the nature of support to an author friend and as a realistic critique of the book. These are the ones that have given exposure to the book and myself as an author and I am grateful to all those who did take the trouble of going through the book in full and writing a detailed review. All of them have been illuminating and given me joy and made me look at how I have connected with the readers. May be they really liked it; I am sure that some of them did, and after a year when I myself go through what I have written, there is a sense of happiness and satisfaction that I have been true to myself to a very large extent, though there will always be a small something that I have kept back.
In the introduction to the book I write “I never wanted to write a story. My life has been one long series of conversations with myself and I thought that the only way I could really say what I want to, is speak to someone; a friend perhaps or maybe even a stranger. If you ask me why I would do that, I cannot answer truthfully; it could even be vanity.” But now, when I have just finished writing my second book I know I have moved on. For now I have not written about myself, so the question of vanity does not come in. I have become but a small part of a larger canvas where exist other lives that need to be understood.
The Ordinary Man (as in my book), does not want celebrate his birthday by blowing out candles or cutting cakes. This day he wants to thank all those people out there who had lent their ears to hear him say ‘I am just An Ordinary Man’ –
I am just an ordinary man,
I do just what I can,
So let me be,
As you can see,
I am one of those who also ran.
You cannot say I do not care,
Of love and dreams, I’ve had my share,
Of pain and pleasure,
In no small measure,
Though now I stand alone and stare.