Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Delights of Solitude


A former student of mine called yesterday.  Since I am an extremely poor conversationalist, silence began to dominate after a brief exchange and he requested me to hand over the phone to my wife who was his teacher for more years than me.  Later my wife told me how much the young man, who is now a student of medicine in one of the top medical colleges in the country, admired and acquired some of my ways and attitudes.  I was stunned.  What admirable qualities do I possess? 

Solitude and absolute refusal to gossip and flatter are two of the lessons he learnt from me, among a few others, it seems.  “But they are not qualities,” I protested when my wife reported it.  No one who wants to be a success can afford to choose solitude and abstain from flattery.  I lived among people who would often tell the Principal things like, “Sir, your shoes are shining so well today.  Which brand of polish do you use, sir?”  Those people are principals today and must be lapping up questions like, “Sir, you look fabulous in this new suit.  Was it bought online from Raymonds or from the Metropolitan Mall?”

“He didn’t learn it from me,” I told my wife.  “He had it in him.”  I reminded her about one incident which took place at school.  The whole class 12 had decided to boycott a function because of their disagreement with some management decision.  But this one boy stood alone.  He did what he thought was right and ignored the entire set of his classmates. 

He had understood the hollowness of most human exchanges.  He chose solitude because he valued life above such hollowness.  Did he learn it from me?  I don’t think so.  We are guided more by our genetic makeup.  The delights of solitude belong to a rare sub-species.  And there may be some affinity among that sub-species.  That’s why, I guess, he called us the day he got his medical admission and sang a whole song over the phone for two of his schoolteachers.



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14 comments:

  1. I can totally relate to it, there is a certain joy in it. I totally savour my few hours of solitude.

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  2. “He didn’t learn it from me,” I told my wife. “He had it in him.” .This is a true observation.Unless one has it, he cannot recognize it in another.
    I also agree with you when you say avoiding flattery and practicing solitude will not help you move up the ladder by today's norms & expectations...

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    1. Maybe success has a different meaning for such people.

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  3. It is not every one who can understand the delight of solitude. As our outer and inner surroundings are getting more and more crowded with words and noises of all kinds, i am araid, solitude itself may be become a thing of the past.

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    1. That's right. Solitude is a luxury today. I consider myself lucky.

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  4. Often times the solitude impedes social success and barter system works best with those who recite the proses of flattery. I just remembered the story of the three men on an island :)

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    1. I'm not familiar with the story you've mentioned. Social success is impossible with solitude. But I suppose those who opt for solitude must have lost interest in social success.

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  5. You inspired him. And I love solitude. It's only in those hours of solitude that I can understand myself better.

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    1. I agree that each one of us influences those nearby one way or another. To that extent, I must have played a role in the life of the boy.

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  6. I can relate to it Sir as I am also built that way only. Solitude is a great boon if its importance is understood properly. This sharing by you is simply lovable and the personalities of both the teacher and the student are adorable. Hats off to you and also to your former student referred to in this post.

    Jitendra Mathur

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    1. That student, at least, is a great personality and he is going to go a long way.

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  7. You said it well sir, solitude truly is a luxury these days.

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    1. That's why many people are not able to afford it. Otherwise the social structure would be different and there wouldn't be so many squabbles.

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