My fantasies on what people think of me. Written on the Bangalore Pune Highway, July 18-19, 2004.
If I were to write my obituary today July 19, 2004.
"Je din chinha padbe na more ai bate (Beng.).. The day my footprints won't be in this path. Tagore. "
After visiting many places I recently came to Kolhapur on a lecturing assignment. It is such a small and lovely place, with mountains, greeneries, scenic beauty and quietness of the Nature. I remembered Ireland and St. Patrick Church. Perhaps my painting career would start here, and my journey would stop here. The first time I visited the place, I wondered if I would be able to move up and down the moutains like the local folks do. I could imagine Shivaji and his herd of ponies trotting past me-- until today I did not know the strength of the smallness in Shivaji. Marathas are known to be rough, but would I be able to pull through another year in this city with no friends and relatives? I had faced similar dilemma in Chicago and Delhi, and I did better in Chicago than in Delhi. I got used to the heavy snow when I worked as a local in the Church. I now teach sophomore and junior in engineering in a 4-yr. course. I was very happy to see that my senior students have become fast enough to please me. Many of my professors were too slow (stereotype Indian), and most of my students are not competitive in Europe. With this background, if I were to compete for MIT, I would be a laughing stock. Today I became happy that some of my students are doing well. I sensed that it is time for me to die. Kolhapur then would be a nice place to rest in peace, and I started burgaining for a small plot of land on the slope of the mountain. What did I do today? I telephoned to the USA after eight years to check if some of my acquaintances still remember me. I do not know if they are burdened with their own family, or if they are sick with the bleeding heart turkeys. What would other people do if I were really dead today? My relation with my immediate family is no good, we had decided to part way at decent times in our lives. Nobody knows me now in Calcutta, Bombay or Delhi to say anything special. My school and college students in India would perhaps say I am a nice guy, but was no good for them. My friend in Kharagpur would express both anger and frustration, perhaps blame me more than they should; fewer among them might even mourn my death. Kolhapur local newspapers might print a small news item reporting the case of death -- natural or unnatural. Principal might be inconvenienced by the absence of a teacher in the middle of a semester. Who are the people who might really say good things about me? Prof. Rao perhaps would say he almost got me a scientist B position at the NCBS Bangalore with support from MV. I could casually stayed there, drank coffee and smoked cigar, and peacefully retired. Perhaps I ditched. Prof. Rangan might say I almost gave him a permanent postion as a copy-editor at the Bangalore Academy but he dumped me. Many college principal would argue that I could have become a role model for a college lecturer by living like a sadhu (saint) or a catholic priest. Prof. Ghosh might even add that I would have done better as a hawker in Calcutta, and made a difference in local politics. I can live with what did not happen. I live with everyday, whatever happens. But I liked the city for my grave.
PS. I just typed this piece of shit on the screen, I might edit it later.