Continued from "Writing a Novel ... "
It was a Saturday morning. The day was hot. There was not much traffic in the beach road. Except for the tourists the town's men were moving there in a meager number. At the back of the gigantic statue of Mahatma Gandhi two highly thinking youths were reclining over the cement rail. They looked to be becoming calm while they were observing the motion of the sea waves. The waves were harping on the same note. The things of Nature were performing the same sort of function just to facilitate all beings to maintain their balance in the biggest organization of God called the Universe. There the highly thinking youths tried to find a solution for their problems by pondering over the logic behind the activities of Nature.
Nature performs the same sort of duty. It is constant forever. Man cannot be so. He is a very complex being. He has to probe everything using his mind. He has to discipline the thought process of his mind. Otherwise, there is no difference between the continuous motion of the waves and the working of his brain. This happens so during the period of crisis. He has to solve the crisis. Otherwise, the crisis will put him always under confusion.
The close-set eyes of Balu turned from the great sea and looked for a while at Kannan who was deeply brooding, melancholically silent, coldly calculating over something. Breathing a sigh of relief he kept his body erect and touched the shoulder of the melancholic man. There was no response. So, it seemed for him that he had to break the ice first.
He said, ï¿½Well Kannan, what had happened in Madurai? After two months we are meeting together here. Why are you so melancholic? Where there is a will, there is a way. If you express your thoughts, I can understand you and try to help you solve your problem.'
'Yes Balu,' said the grave voice of Kannan, 'I am searching' for the words to express my thoughts, feelings and hopes to you. If not you, who else can listen to my heart'?'
Kannan looked at the distant lull of the sea, the ebb and flow of the tide, the bright blue sky, the distant green trees near the shore in the North, the new pier and the fishing boats in the South and the hot sand below his feet. They were all crystal clear under the bright Sun and could be easily possible to photograph them even by a novice photographer. With a new spark of idea, Kannan started to talk on the matters that were coming to his mind.
'The cadavers of my wife and my parents came by plane to Madurai. Except for the faces, all the portions of the carcasses were fully fastened by white bandage cloth. The bodies were fully stuffed and covered after autopsy. Because the faces were kept open, I was able to recognize them. Now they are no more remaining on this Earth. I cremated them in the grave yard of Madurai.
All of my relatives who were of no use and assistance to our family in critical moments in the past started putting the words about my second marriage to the ears of my father-in-law and mother-in-law. My father-in-law also pestered me that only if I got married they would get respite in life. I told them that I was in need of time to think about that and that I would tell them my word in that matter. After finishing all the rituals and religious formalities I have at last come back here.
Though only two months have gone by, I feel I have spent many years with those irrelevant relatives. That is the matter which is standing as a lump choking my throat and making me unable to breathe a free air. Now I can breathe as easily as I can. But I have to prepare my answer for their question too.'
He stopped his words, became silent and kept on gazing on the waves dashing against the rock stones of the beach. He was keenly observing the rhythmic flow of the sea water to the shore and the receding of it again to the sea. It seemed that the raging waves of the sea water were continuously struggling to achieve something specific. How long had it been trying to do so and how long would it try to do so? It looked it had been destined to struggle so. In one way it might be warning the observers that they were also destined to struggle so if they also did not have any other alternative in life. Kannan felt his position was not so serious then and probed for the way out of the mess he had fallen in. He came to his senses again and was listening to what Balu was saying to what he had then said.
'I am also having problems like you. Don't think that you are the only person in the world who is undergoing this sort of a pain in the heart. After I was born my mother died. I have not seen my mother. I know my father, brother and sister. They are all my elders. They follow a route quite conventional and contrary to my ideologies. I like simple life and high thoughts. They judge things by the material wealth of persons.
I go by the thoughts, ideas and knowledge. In this respect, myself and my father are two poles apart. I have got quite a lot to develop myself in life. I wish to come up to the top of the ladder in any field I venture upon. Before my college degree education itself my father wanted me to enter into some govt. job and earn for the family. I wanted education, because it is the base for all sorts of developments in life. In this connection your ideas, cooperation, encouragement and advices helped me much to get hold of a degree.
Otherwise, I would have lost my hope and would be working without acquiring a degree due to my hatred for the present day educational system and carelessness as a slave or an animal without bothering about anyone and anything in life. It is because of your kind words, gentleness, good manners and encouraging words that I got inspiration to prepare well for the degree examination and passed in the degree course and the knowledge of which I don't know anything now. This is mainly due to the obsolete syllabus in the degree course, good for nothing teaching capacities of our lecturers and the valueless nature of our educational qualification in the present developed world. Against the words of my useless relatives and my father I like to go on my own path with the useful ideas of you and the encouragement of my friends. This is how I am going ahead. You know?'
Balu also became silent after he finished saying to him what he could.
The smooth sailing yacht caught the sight of Kannan. It was beautiful to look at. It sailed smoothly by the force of the wind.
Kannan said, 'Man is an accident of Nature. He is happy due to his inventions and creations in the world. That is why he is unique and superior to all the things in Nature. In a frolicsome mood we have started The Halo friendship just like a social organization. We have called ourselves the Haloens and have given the title, THE HALO to our circle of friends for our personal development in life. The Halo is the great hope for our life. Now it has really become so.'
For that view Balu said, 'It is true for us. If not to others, at least, to me it is so. I hope it will be of much help and use to me.'
A tourist bus came to the Gandhi ground and made a halt just before the beach road. Youngsters, children, beautiful dames, affectionate mothers and elders got down from the bus and made their way in a beautiful order to the Gandhi statue, where Kannan and Balu were standing. They started crowding near them to see the beauty of the sea. Hence Kannan and Balu moved away from there and walked towards a snack bar near the Town Hall building.
They entered the Bar and occupied a table facing the sea. It was cool, shady and beautiful to sit and observe the boats engaged with the fishing activities. They ordered for two plates of cashew nuts and two bottles of Campa Cola. A water mug was placed on the table before them with a few glasses around it. Balu filled two of the glasses with water from the mug. Kannan took a glass of water and looked at the peoples inside the Bar.
The Bar was filled with foreign hippies who were smoking locally made Indian cigars and beedies. The atmosphere was almost fully covered with cigarette smoke. As Kannan and Balu were sitting at the far end of those madding crowd, they had escaped from the danger of suffocation. It was yet another experience which they could not forget in their life.
'Well, what aim do you have and what are you going to do next?' asked Kannan.
'I don't have any idea now. But certainly I want to do something and wish to stand on my own legs so that I need not bother about my relatives. I can even go and settle in a place I like most in India. For that I have to decide what I have to study and find out what competitive exams I may have to write. That I will finalize as the time passes on. Now I am studying Hindi, because it will be useful to me later on in my life. That is all I can say now. Then' what is your plan?'
'I don't have any plan about my future course of action. I have to think quite a lot. I need time; I want to do something light and something interesting to me. I want to live a new life forgetting my past. I was not to do something new so that I can forget my past life. I want to go on a new line which I know but I have not done in a full time basis. I think I can bring about a change in my life.
Now I have found out why my life and work were monotonous in the past. Only after that tragic car accident of my family I have got a slight enlightenment. The uncongenial domestic atmosphere, the irrelevant relatives and the unhappy wedded life have made me to think in this fashion so to say. I have come to understand that material wealth, money and power never go hand in hand with human nature, talent and knowledge. I have found out all these things from the activities of my own relatives.
I want to go away from these entire madding crowds and go on my own path in life. I want to cut all my connections with them first so that their doings never affect my name or position. Three weeks back by chance I met the proprietor cum editor of THE TREASURE magazine and he came to know about my recent tragedy. I have told you about this gentleman sometime back. He advised me that this profession would help me much to get satisfaction of heart. I have a lot of things to say. So, why can't I write? What do you say?'
The well prepared cashew nuts were still remaining untouched by either of them on the plates. The waiter also glanced at them to know whether they would require any other items or not and turned to attend other customers without disturbing them. They realized what they were doing. So, they started eating cashew nuts.
'Kannan, as you said now it is a matter to think well before taking a firm decision. You are a business man by birth. You are well versed in your business activities. If you don't like your relatives, you can start a business of your own. As you say you want to have a change and want to be away from your realties, you can do business in some other place and mind about writing what you can in the leisure time, because through writing you cannot earn enough and stand on your own legs afterwards.'
'Yes, I know that thing very well, Balu. But, what you are suggesting to me to do is also not an immediate possibility. Business is not a simple matter as you may have conceived yourself. To run a business concern of my own first of all an organization has to be set up. Market research has to be done before investing money on the products that have to be pushed out. Immediately getting funds for starting anything is not possible now. There are so many complex matters which have to be dealt with and after clearing all these hurdles, I can have the access to demand my share of money from my parent business concern. That will take hell of time, you see. There is no possibility for you to be aware of this thing.'
A deep silence prevailed there. They kept on clearing cashew nuts on the plates and drank water. The waiter then brought two bottles of Campa cola and a bill receipt on the table and left them in no minute. They also did not order for anything further. They drank the cold drink, paid for the bill in the counter and left the Bar without a pause.
They crossed the beach road and walked towards the park. The barren play ground of the Gandhi ground remained empty. Then the children's play ground in the park looked to be busy with healthy children engaged with their favorite games like the see-saw, the hide and seek and the climb and slide-down. The children's park was well shaped with many exotic trees, which wore a beautiful look with the rich growth of dark green leaves and the red and yellow tulip like flowers suitable for the scientific dissections in the laboratories. Kannan and his friend also did not fail to admire at these exotic flowers. They entered the play ground and sat at the foot of a well grown tree. They saw a few kids playing the cock fight game with the seeds of those peculiar flowers. It was a game every child could not miss to play there.
'We cannot forget our child hood days,' said Kannan, 'when we see these young fellows playing the cock fight game with those flower seeds. In the kindergarten stage I too enjoyed to play these games with my fellows whether I won or lost. There is sheer innocence in it. But I have seen the grown up boys do cock fights in life not out of sheer innocence but out of sure cunningness though there are so many good games to play to bring honor to themselves and the society. At least after seeing these kids they can reform themselves. That is why it is said that the child is the father of man. See how innocent, jolly and happy they are!'
'True Kannan,' said Balu, 'what you say is quite true. I am also thinking of getting married soon and lead a wedded life. With one or two children I can live a happy family life. My relatives' gossips can be stopped. Our family matters can be very well managed by me. There will be one soul to listen to my words. At least for the last thing, I am in need of a wife by my side. What do you think of marriage? What is your opinion about my getting married to pacify my father and other relatives?'
'I don't deny that you should not get married soon. You have to do it one day or other to set right your family troubles. But you have to look before you leap. You say you have to prepare yourself much. This you have to do now and first. After that you must no doubt get married. If you get married first and wish to develop yourself, you won't find time, I feel. You will be minding your family problems rather than devoting yourself to your ambition of coming up in life.
As far as my opinion regarding marriage is concerned is this. I don't give much importance to marriage. I know what it is. It is a matter of a big waste-paper basket. It is a battle of make-belief and nothing else. So, it is better to solve your priorities first and then think of marriage. That is what I can say about it. But what makes you think of marriage so soon, man?'
Balu wanted to say something, but he stopped and started observing the finely grown grass near them. He plucked a few blades of grass, dissected them into many pieces and threw them in the air. He seemed to have overcome the interruption of his own sentimental thoughts.
'To put it plain,' said Balu, 'I am also a sentimentalist; I am the youngest person in my relatives' circles and in my family. It has become my obligation to listen and obey to their words. I have to spend all of my time to our household activities. I don't get free time to think or to speak out what I feel to anybody else or do what I wish. It is sickening my healthy out look of life.
I don't wish to remain to be a slavish person. I feel it is against my nature. I feel if I get married my wife can look after such things and I can mind my matters in my own way. Due to the uncongenial atmosphere at home I like to be in the circle of my friends and I get great relief in this way. But what you are suggesting is having valid reasons. I will say about what I am going to do next, when we two get together with our friends in the due course of time.'
'So, it has become a necessity that we have to think about what our way of life is,' said Kannan.
'Let us try to find a solution while we are discussing about this important issue in the coming Halo meeting itself. More or less our problems are similar. Let us see what we can do.'
'There you are! This is what I was about to say. But our talk has turned to other matters and we have landed on a remote place. Now we have again come back to square one thanks to your present question. You see the proprietor of THE TREASURE magazine very much recommended me to think about joining the penmanship. Before he took leave of me, he firmly insisted me to write him at the earliest my willingness to join in this ever lasting field. I thought well for about three days and wrote him about my willingness by suggesting him to open up a page or a column for freelance writing suitable to persons of my type in his magazine.
I received an immediate reply letter from him there itself. I was informed that my suggestion was a bold and new idea. I was advised to mention the date when I would be returning back here so that a favorable response could be made to me within the course of a fortnight. Before I came here I sent him another letter in this regard. I am sure there will be a good response from that gentleman in the course of next week. In the meantime, I have got nothing to do but to spend my time in some useful way with my friends. That will be my immediate action and that is what I am going to do next.'
'All right. What will happen to your business here?'
'Nothing will happen to it for a few years. It will go on as it is now. My father had done something good or bad whatever he could and had gone away. I have brought about profitable changes, regularized the fast moving items and finished all the works to make our business run on an even track. So, I am going to take French leave.
They cannot say even a word knowing my family position now. If anything goes wrong after a few years, I know what I have to do and they will approach me automatically. But I am also afraid of the things that are going to happen to me because I don't know what exactly I shall be doing in the future. Now I need time. A change of work. Do you understand?'
'Okay. You have decided to go to the writing profession from your business. Would it be possible for you to stand and do something worthwhile in this new field?'
'I don't know what makes you to ask me like this. There is nothing sure in both the fields. Everything depends upon the strenuous efforts we take I believe. There is no point in depending only one thing. If it is so, there is no possibility for a change in life. There should be a variety of interests in the work we do. Then only the monotony can be eliminated. It is a boon I have you as my friend along with Gopal and Vaithianathan. Because of your congenial nature and encouraging cooperation I don't bother about anyone and anything in this world.
With your support I can create a new world if I think. I give a high value to our friendship and before it everything is nothing to me. In your company I can face the storm without any sense of bewilderment. You know my dreams, interests and happiness are shattered. Now only I have got a chance to rehabilitate my shattered mind. The writing profession is a new field to me; yet I don't know how I have confidence in it and why I am not afraid of it.
Now I remember a very encouraging statement I came across very often in my college days. It says that 'the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.' The battle of Waterloo is the problem of life and the professional difficulties. For me THE HALO is the Eton. The playing fields are the beach, the park, etc. where we exchange our knowledge, discuss upon new ideas and the things we write in our letters, wherever we are in our country. It is here I am going to practice my art. It is the testing ground where I first test the full capacity of my talent before I put it to use in my new profession. I can be successful in this field, if I once see how the things are going on in a magazine publishing house. Now do you still say that I am incapable of doing what I have been saying so long?'
'Kannan I never say that you cannot do what you say. You are not like other ordinary persons who are like the bits of papers drifting in the wind in any direction. You have a firm mind in achieving your goal. You have the proper confidence, courage and perseverance. What I mean to say is that wiser action is better than hasty one. You take your own time and achieve your goal. You are already known in the society as a good business man. Your words will be judged by your deeds. Your personality is staked there. If there is a favorable response from the proprietor of THE TREASURE, it is well and good. But if a contrary thing happens, what will happen to your goal? You have to be careful, you see.'
'I am neither a God nor a stone. I am also a human being. I don't deny that I don't have any weaknesses or draw backs. There may be. I want to be out i.e. away form the usual work a day life. This writing profession gives me an opportunity to do so. Making use of this opportunity I can learn the techniques of a new profession in a direct close encounter. That advantage I have now in my hand. It will naturally give a fillip to my action and a new vigor to my exhausted spirit.'
Kannan looked at his watch, got up from the grass, looked around the place in a contemplative mood and moved away from the park with a fast pace, when Balu also joined him. He again started talking on the same note with Balu.
'I believe I will receive a favorable call from Madras next week. Otherwise I may have to settle my scores with my relatives. Then mentally I shall be in a confused state. Against my will somehow I may have to pull on my days. I have to over come my special dilemma 'whether to continue my work in business as usual or to go ahead as a freelance writer to my mental satisfaction and whether to live a wedded life again or to remain a bachelor again forever.
Already I am in hot waters. Before it gets hotter I wish to be out of it. I don't know how I am going to settle the matter. I don't know how I am going to get away from the strange mess I have fallen in. Is it called fate? What mistakes have I done? I am very much perturbed. My house has come, Balu. Let me part with you now and meet you again in the evening.'
'See you then Kannan. It is after all an imaginary confusion. Everything will become all right after sometime. Take good rest. Bye then.'
'Bye Balu!' said Kannan, entered the house and closed the door behind him.
The Haloens, Kannan, Balu, Gopal, Selvam and Vaithianathan just before the Sun set entered the Botanic Garden. They walked on the path leading straight to the central building having separate entrance for the Library, the Museum and the Aquarium. On either side of the path there were fences made out of finely grown plants. On the left hand side, there was a flat open to all decorated with Guinea flowers at the centre. Around it the cement benches were placed on the grass floor for the visitors to take rest there. It was indeed a beautiful place for having any kind of get together there.
On the right hand side also there was a circular area having a concavely dug out portion completely covered with fine grass. It would give pleasure to anyone in that place because if one got into the centre one would be four feet below the ground level; and you would feel as if you were in a calm and serene world. Those were the things that touched the hearts of the Haloens.
The museum and the aquarium were in one huge hall. The dead fossil creatures from the crow to the vulture were kept serially in a clear cut order. The living species of the ocean creatures starting from the black Molly fish to the octopus were seen moving alive in various glass vessels which were beautifully illuminated with fine colored electric bulbs. The fishing boats, nets, the bones of whale and shark were kept in all the available spaces there. Besides, there were dead snakes of the land and the sea, which were all well preserved in cylindrical glass bottles. The library was closed in that Saturday evening and so, nothing could be said about that.
Beyond the central building the whole garden looked like a forest as well as a park. That was a very old botanic garden, in fact. The garden, comprising of flowers of various colors and trees of different categories and varieties, was more for the eyes to see and enjoy than to read and live in imagination. Yet, it was a point blank thing to note that the garden was having a lot of age old trees, which were so old and grown up that they had become like actual stones! A peculiar case for the botanists to do research work there! A wonderful place for the poets to write beautiful poems!
The Halo group chose a spot surrounded by banyan trees to sit and chat for sometime. Selvam, who wanted to be jolly, started enquiring the kids who were playing there about some funny things. After a few minutes, he too started running after them. The reason was that the kids were more precocious than he was! That was the thing. By the time he returned other friends were conveniently sitting on the grass as comfortably as they could. Balu wanted to hear some humorous talk from Vaithianathan and so, he asked him to start talking about some topic. Vaithianathan prepared his ground well in order to avoid the assault of Kannan and Balu.
He said, 'I am happy that I am one of the friends of The Halo group which is neither a political party nor a recreation club. At the outset, our friends I mean our Haloens are quite unique in spending the time not on wasteful amusements like going to cinemas or brothels as other young people are doing nowadays, but on useful things like developing knowledge through conversation on good topics and reading worthwhile books from the library. We are talking good things because of our discipline. The thing is we have to learn as to how we have to select good topics, which should be interesting and instructive to everyone and good quotations from great philosophers to enlighten our mind!'
Kannan was satisfied with this introduction. He understood that all were interested to have a talk on some useful topics. He looked at Balu with an eye of approval and waited for what he was going to say next. The smiling Gopal became calm and attentive. Selvam settled himself opposite to Balu in between Gopal and Vaithianathan.
'Selecting topics is not a difficult thing,' talked Balu. 'But the thing is everyone should contribute relevant points, when we start talking about any subject. I suggest that there is one important thing we have to adopt' that is, everyone should select a subject in which one is best or interested. I think you will give your opinion on this aspect, what do you say?'
Immediately Kannan said, 'Yes, it is a worthwhile thing and this can be adopted in practice. As far as I am concerned my interest is in literature; and it would be easy to have a lively conversation if we select a book, which is read by everyone. Then there won't be much difficulty over the question of selecting a topic for discussion. I think, Gopal will say something on this matter.'
In his turn, Gopal said, 'I am interested in Science & Technology. Now I am learning something about Radio repairs; I am able to do something in this line.'
On his part Selvam said, 'I am going to join politics one day. I have joined the Law College. So, I can say that my subject of interest is Law and Sociology.'
Then Vaithianathan said, 'My interest is in philosophy. I am interested in developing my knowledge on Philosophy and Religion. What about you, Balu?'
'I am interested in the literature of English, Hindi and Tamil. That is my subject of interest. So, what is your opinion in this regard, Mr. Kannan?'
Kannan said, 'I am interested in developing my knowledge on both English and French Literatures. I like to become a well versed writer. So, whatever be the subjects we have chosen what is important here is that we have to exchange our views on all these subjects and side by side we should develop ourselves by having discussions on general topics.
By the by, I like to go to some places outside our town to have a change in my life. That is the only way by which I can overcome my personal problems. But whatever be the thing and wherever we are, we can continue our development works on our subjects through letter writing also. By conversations and writings we can keep ourselves well aware of the world and can be person of sure substance. That is my view.'
Next Vaithianathan said, 'I like the opinion of Kannan. The thing we have to do now is that we have to start the spade work. We have to break the ice; and express our opinions in a friendly way.'
Then Balu intervened and said, 'Let us start choosing our topics. For this I have an idea. Let everyone of us say a topic of one's own interest. We will shuffle and select a topic among these topics and start our discussion. I think Kannan can start.'
'Let me say what topic I like when you have said yours,' said briefly Kannan.
'Art of Conversation is my topic,' said Selvam.
'Let us talk on My Way of Life,' said Vaithianathan.
Then Gopal said, 'I am thinking about the topic. Let me say it after others have finished.'
'I think we can talk on the topic ' Should Religious Parties be banned in our Country?' finished Balu.
'I have to give my topic yet,' hurried Gopal. 'Nowadays we are seeing quite a lot of news about war and arbitration treaties. So, I am interested in knowing more about Army. My topic is ' Should Military Training be given to our people?'
There arose a confusion which was whether to discuss on all the topics or to talk on one of the topics only. But all the topics were important for them. They did not know what they had to do next for sometime.
Balu came forward with an idea and said, 'All the topics can be discussed one after the other. Let us choose one from those topics. For that let us write them down on small pieces of paper and one piece has to be picked up by anyone of the Haloens. That is the point. Now, who has to pick it up?'
Vaithianathan thought of something for a while and said, 'I find it difficult to say any point on any of those topics. I have to think much and so, for this meeting I want to be a listener rather than a participant.'
This was found to be a consoling thing for Selvam and Gopal. So, Selvam said, 'I am not a good talker. But other friends have to bear with my monotonous and dry talk.'
And Gopal said, 'I can talk well in my topic and not in other topics chosen by you. So, there won't be much for me to contribute, if the discussion starts on other topics.'
At that moment Kannan came forward to pacify the Haloens. He said, 'You see, my friend, you should not feel that we are going to have a debate like discussion. We are going to have conversation only. We need not be specific. We have to give the opinion we have. The conversation should be congenial and lovely to everyone. Otherwise, we need not talk on difficult topics. Let us see that what topic is liked by all. I am ready for any topic not that I know much but that I think I can offer my views in a general way. Let there be mistakes. We can correct ourselves. What is there in it? That is all.'
'Don't say like that Kannan,' said Balu, 'we need not select another topic. We can modify the already said topics. That will be the best thing that can be done. We can do that in no time as we go to some hotel and have a cup of coffee along with some tiffin.'
This plan was agreed by all. So, they left the botanic garden and soon reached a small restaurant near the park. They settled themselves around a good table and ordered for potato chips and hot coffee.
Then the conversation was on why they had selected the topics they declared in the garden. That was opened by Vaithianathan.
'We are happy today. We don't know how the future will be. Once we get a job, we will be scattered to various places. Then there won't be much time for us to meet together like this and spend the time exchanging our views of the heart. That is why I want to express what sort of a life I like to lead!'
Next Kannan gave his view. 'I already have a sound experience in life. We don't know what will happen next. I have you as my friends. It is a fortunate thing for me. I am able to forget my worries and troubles when I am with you.
Without friends one will be like a brute and he will not have good people to talk to and get encouragement for pulling on his life further. Moreover, one can earn as much money as one likes in whatever possible way, but it will be very difficult to have good and worthwhile friends. Even if you lose everything in life, you will get solace and ideas if you have gentle friends. That is why I would like to select the topic ' Friendship.'
Selvam and Gopal consulted among themselves and Gopal said, 'We have informed you why we have selected such topics, when we were in the garden.'
Then Balu said, 'In the name of religion many political parties have come in our country. They are neither preaching any morality nor doing any useful thing to our country. They are just deceiving the mass and filling up their bellies and pockets, when they get elected in the election. These people should be severely dealt with. Religion should be saved from the goondas. That is why I selected a topic like that.'
That conversation turned on personal things and again shifted to the life problems. So, they all liked to know what life was actually like. They decided to have a general talk on life that evening. The time was 6.45. The Bill for the tiffin came to the table. Kannan paid the Bill. They came out of the restaurant and made their way to the beach.
It looked a fresh thought had to be infused in the minds of the Haloens. Kannan paved the way for a long conversation.
'Again it has to be remembered, my friends, that the halo is a luminous reflection of the Moon's outer rim falling on the moisture in the atmosphere creating a unique sensation to the onlooker. The foundation of our friendship was laid on the day when we saw the luminous halo of the Moon in the sky at the first meeting in our park. Mainly due to this beautiful natural phenomenon which gave us a unique pleasure on that pleasant evening we selected the name, THE HALO to our group.
The Halo is the symbol of maturity of knowledge or wisdom. This Halo is a unique beauty that has to represent and interpret what is our group whenever we happen to see it as time passes on. In so far as the things that issue out of our speeches and writings from the confluence of our thoughts we should be as creative, inventive and innovative as the fine Halo. So, dear Haloens shall I expect the process of our intellectual thought to be true to my interpretation of our Halo?'
Vaithianathan appreciated this view and said, 'Mr. Kannan, your explanation regarding the importance of The Halo is sharpening our brains. In this connection, I can say that the topic ' Life, which we have chosen just now is an aspect produced by the nature of other topics on which we are interested to have a discussion sooner or later. I think we can start talking on this topic.'
As a continuation of that view Balu said, 'It is really an interesting evening because of the enthusiasm of all the friends of our Halo. I think it will be well if we proceed with this topic by the question and answer method so that we may not enter into the quagmire of unnecessary and vague talks like the old people do.'
To put forth his things clearly, Gopal said, 'To have interesting talk on this topic, we should not have a strict rule. It will be difficult to proceed well after sometime if we adopt only one method. It is not difficult. But the thing I like to point out is that this topic is a contemplative one and there should not be any misunderstanding over anyone, if one goes wrong anywhere. If this is agreed upon, then the talk will be congenial to everyone.'
Supporting this view, Selvam said, 'The question and answer method is good. But if anyone makes any mistake, it should be corrected in a mild way, or the answer should be given by somebody else in order to keep the continuity of the talk get unimpaired.'
Therefore Kannan said, 'We are going to have a conversation only and not a debate. So, there need not be any condition or remarks that have to be followed. Let us be free and forget about the odds we come across. It is not going to be the ideal or the permanent thing. It is only the view, we are going to express upon life, in general.'
The inspiring talk of Kannan gave the impetus to the friends to probe, explore and discover life and to find out what is interesting, innovative and creative in life. While musing over these things they reached the sea shore. It was a Full Moon day. The sea was well exposed by the Moon light. The Stars were bright. Two ships were seen anchored at the distant sea. The broken parts of the iron rod pier protruding out of the sea for a small stretch were offering a new kind of sensation to one and all to look at them more curiously than before. The image of the Moon lying on the dancing waves below the broken iron protrusion gave a quivering artistic beauty to the whole place.
Kannan and his friends sat down on the sand seeing the beautiful scene. It became a necessity that Balu had to start with his questions. So, seeing the Stars, Balu asked Kannan, 'What is life?'
Kannan answered, 'What we live is life. Whoever one is, one likes to have happiness and peace. So, happiness and peace are the aim of life. If the world is full of miseries, then nobody will like to live. Therefore, it can be said that the work one does makes one's life.'
Everyone was internally arguing about the merits and demerits of that statement. But there was no criticism from anyone.
Then Selvam put a question in general, 'What is the way in which one should lead a life?'
It was a question open to all. There was a pause for sometime. Then the answers were systematically voiced by all one after the other.
First, Kannan said, 'We are one among the society. We should go according to the society and at the same time we should fulfill our aim. This way we can avert quite a lot of clashes and it will be easy for anyone to overcome the obstructions on the way of our progress.'
Second, Balu proceeded, 'We are the master of our own Self. We have every liberty to live in the way we like. We should not expect more and anything from others. We have to work in our own way and get satisfaction in life.'
Third, Selvam said, 'We should know how to move with other people. We should know how our neighbor is. We will then have knowledge about the world. Then only we can avert troubles and can lead a life we prefer.'
Fourth, Vaithianathan said, 'Discipline is important in life. Society will not do anything to individual's life. So, we can lead a life not by copying the life our society leads but by following our own conscience. We can even lead a life away from the society and alone in the society. Then only we can develop ourselves and be a model or an example to the world. That is my way of living.'
Fifth, Gopal said, 'We should lead a life by making use of our education. We should eliminate the evils of our orthodoxy both in the community and in the society. It is not necessary that we have to obey to elders always and prove ourselves to be good people. It is a sheer hypocrisy. We should fight against conventional ideas and habits and fulfill our ideals. That should be the motive of our life.'
All the views were quite interesting to each and everyone. They thought that their opinions would guide them where they were right or wrong. So, they came to the conclusion that 'life is a kind of adventure or a kind of exploration, which everyone has to experience in order to understand the importance of it as time passes on.' With this view in conclusion the get together came to an end.
The next Saturday evening Kannan was walking on the pavement towards the Venus Caf'. People were seen moving in and out of the show rooms and the shops. He stood in a place for a moment to see the movements of the vehicles in the traffic there. Then he went on with a steady pace observing the fashionable people, cars of different models and the fanciful articles of each and every show room in that street. At last he entered the Venus caf' and took a chair in one corner of the hall.
'What do you want, Sir?' asked the waiter in white uniform dress with a green turban on his head.
'Please come after a few minutes,' said Kannan, 'I am waiting for my friends.'
For him it seemed that the caf' was the best rendezvous for young people. The cigarette smoke was occupying the whole area. It induced everyone to start smoking, when they entered the caf'. No one bothered about the injury it did to the lungs. It is one of the aspects of our modern civilisation. After a few minutes, Balu arrived there, sat by the side of Kannan and proffered a Wills Flake cigarette pack. He also took one cigarette. Balu showed the burning match stick to the cigarettes and they started smoking.
'It is better to smoke than to inhale the black smoke emitted by the people around here. Where are our friends, Balu?'
'They have gone to Gopal's house and will come soon. What shall we have in the meantime?'
They ordered for a plate of potato chips. By the time the chips came to the table all the other Haloens had come there and exchanged wishes among themselves. Then glasses of cold water came to the table. The waiter got orders for vegetable cut-let, egg-omelette and hot coffee from them.
There was decisiveness and finality in the way Kannan pressed the cigarette butt into the ash tray. While slicing the vegetable cutlet, he spoke, 'I have obtained an appointment letter from the office of THE TREASURE magazine this morning. I am supposed to report to this office next Monday. After meeting the proprietor of that office in Madras, I shall know the names of the places I have to visit in South India. Then only it seems, a programme can be fixed by them.'
After eating the last piece of the vegetable cutlet Balu said, 'The way it goes, I think, you may have to write reports on the places you are going to visit. What is the idea you have regarding this?'
'The proprietor of THE TREASURE knows well about my taste in writing. More than this he knows also that I am interested in writing something new and innovative. He is a man of such thoughts too. So, there shall be something special in this appointment. But I feel that I will be writing only articles with some modifications according to his editorial policy.'
After giving his reply to the question of Balu, Kannan drank a mouthful of water from the glass in one gulp. He dragged near to his side one plate containing egg omelette and started applying pepper and salt to the yellow stuff. Tasting a small piece of the omelette, he turned to Vaithianathan who had started eating egg omelette before everyone.
'What Mr. Vaithianathan,' asked he, 'you are not saying anything today like Mr. Gopal and Mr. Selvam? Say something interesting. I want to hear your views very much.'
Stopping his busy activity for a while, he said, 'It is a remarkable thing for me to be in your company. I like to listen to you. My dilemma now is that I have to choose between law and job. I have applied for the law course here. If I get a job I shall discontinue the course and go out somewhere like you and work for my livelihood. That is the position of my story now.'
But Kannan said, 'There is no dilemma in your case. You can continue your study of law in the correspondence course even if you join in any work anywhere or by taking study leave after a few months perhaps.'
Disappointed Selvam intervened in their talk and said, 'All are going out to some place you like. But what about the meet of our Halo' when and where and how?'
In that connection Balu said, 'I wonder Selvam is also much concerned with the break of our Halo! I would like to say that I may also go out of home if I got an appointment in the government office as I have written one UDC Exam recently. This is mainly because I am not satisfied with the present salary I am getting and another thing is I can be away from my troublesome relatives of my family.'
'So, I am the only person who may have to look after The Halo with Selvam in this town, it seems,' said Gopal in a pathetic mood.
Again to maintain the good tempo of their talk, Kannan said, 'Humour is the spice of life. Nothing is great unless there is a sense of humour. Our group is not lacking this sense. That is good. We have to keep this situation up forever. But at the same time we should not forget that our motto is integrity of thoughts, words and deeds. If we think one thing and say one thing and do some other thing, it will not be becoming of a good Haloen. So, Gopal you should not forget what you have just now said and should not fail to do so even if myself, Balu and our Vaithianathan leave the town immediately.'
By saying so Kannan with a suppressed smile looked at Selvam and then at Balu. Before anyone raised his voice, the waiter stood before them and waited for further orders. With the consultation of his friends Kannan ordered the waiter for hot coffee and a few more glasses of water. Then Kannan took up the question put forth by Selvam to offer his opinion.
He said, 'The question Selvam has raised regarding the meeting of our Halo is relevant. You can continue the meetings in the Sundays as usual. The thing is one has to put down in writing what you have discussed and post it to me so that I can write my views too and send it to you for your perusal. I will be meeting you in paper rather than in person. So, there is no incumbent to be dealt with and we can very well enrich our knowledge, develop our character and make ourselves have a clear voice over any issue. By this way we can develop our personality, which is quite unique to this Halo!'
The table was cleared and cups of coffee were placed for all to enjoy. Everyone took one cup and started sipping the hot flavoured coffee. Balu, who got some ideas, put forth his suggestions to them.
'It is a good thing if we write down what we discuss every week so that we can understand how far we have progressed in our way to attain our cherished goals. In addition to this every month we can publish a magazine for our private circulation. This will be an interesting work for our Halo. As you all know that 'Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man and writing an exact man!' we can start this magazine work from the next month onwards so that we can slowly develop our integrity of thoughts, words and deeds. This will make us perfect one day.'
Continued to "The Journey : The Halo Dreams ... "
The Halo Dreams:
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