Today it’s been 74 long years when Gandhiji, the Father of the Nation, was gunned down in cold blood. Over the past some years now he is surely and swiftly being relegated into the background, receding far from our consciousness, except though, ironically so, on prominent display atop our currency notes. The ones that are in wide-spread circulation, despite carrying on our financial transactions via credit cards or Paytms or a plethora of other invisible to the eye wallets. Bapu, as he was, once-upon-a-time addressed, followed the mantra, ‘Work is Worship’ which still vaguely hangs around, mouthed mechanically, vacantly, lightly, like the rest of the idioms that our ears have grown up on. Care to pause, and this one, makes the intangible tangible and yet by and large, we Indians are a lazy lot.(Unless one makes it to the West where we involuntarily become mindful of this intonation or tagline—the more apt phrase in our current times—and morph into workholics, taking on, in full earnest the other chant or rallying cry, ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’ and so would never dare to litter the roads or throw out empty McDonald’s cups and squished burger boxes out of a moving car?!).
Given to heavy-duty procrastination, quite convinced that the work on hand is not going anywhere, and so can be taken care of tomorrow. Tomorrow?! A stackful of tomorrows have been accorded to us by the Almighty so no need to furrow one’s brows in fret. And with Covid into the 3rd running year, a good many, are attending endless Zoom Parties, after popping open the bubbly and toasting each other—flute glasses shining spotlessly for showcasing that Dom Pérignon—for the Zoomiversary celebration. Hello, has none of us heard of another phrase, ‘Tomorrow, never Comes’?! And if so, methinks we are quite unconvinced of the truth of the matter.
As usual, find myself going off on a tangent and yet to get this train off the platform and on the tracks. I shan’t rattle on and on about how when you engage the services of a carpenter or an electrician, since the house is in dire need of repair, they explain how they’ll not ‘repair’ the falling apart kitchen cabinets but make them brand new; even the most discerning eye would demand the mobile number of the craftsman, with a Midas touch. A, both ignorant and hopeful, you is taken in, and since the artisan is about to stomp out, without a backward glance, when you gingerly request him to charge a little less, given that there was more work on hand, once the collapsing kitchen was sculptured into a spanking new one.
Then of course, in the blink of an eye, you see-eye-to-eye, and cough up the advance for him to bring in Hettich furniture fittings, that will ensure your drawers slide in an out frictionlessly, ditto for the cabinets that will open and close in a breeze, like magic. It is another story that the carpenter and his dream team never show up on time, saunter in and out, as they please since they are working elsewhere as well, and end up doing a shoddy job, only half the hinges replaced, and so an impending caving-in on the cards. No clean-up of the saw-dust and rusty nails strewn on the floor but your cutlery, reserved for the guests, gone in a single sweep! And, again normally is the case with your maid/household help if, if on a daily basis, you don’t dole out what has to be done on each given day, then much is undone when you return from a long day at work, and a longer one, in the long haul of commuting.
Of course, it’s a different matter that a week or a fortnight before Diwali, the very same, go into a self-driven overdrive, buffing your house to a gleam that could give a crystal-clear diamond a run for its money. No hidden agenda. The plain sight motive being a hefty, most unaffordable for the employer, bonus. The festival of lights was not on the anvil, your brother, only a few months back, having passed away and that in the face of death, there is no room for festivity. Work is Worship, yes indeed, but the timing is all wrong. Besides this kind of worship requires consistency, correct?! What appears or rather has become my Hallmark: I seem to say, what this pen had set out to cover, late in the day, zigzagging all over the strip, leaving little space to touch upon what was top most in the head. Next time, must organize my thoughts systematically, shoe-horning them so that there is no mad dash to cram in the planned material at the tail’s end! To make some quick prints in a bid to make it to the final frame. Our kids, as a rule—it’s not about belonging to this or that economic ladder—don’t think, that work beyond their studies or sports, falls under their preview. As said, one can be from the lower, middle, upper-middle classes or might hail from a house possessing a fleet of BMWs, Audis, Mercedes, but ‘Work’ whatzzatt?! Why should they bother to fetch themselves a glass of water, put their clothes for washing, run a few household errands, as picking up some bread and jam, primarily for their own consumption, while heading home from school or college?! Whatever were Moms & Maids for?!
About getting that Scooty or Harley Davidson serviced or fixed (after ramming it into a pole) whatever were Dads & Drivers for?! And if the Grandma or Grandpa wanted assistance in showing them how to use a certain application on WhatsApp, they are firmly told that circles cannot be squared, and why ever this overarching desire to be in ‘touch’ with the world?! Plainly put, lending a helping hand akin to slaving away! Endless rooted insights flung your way—parents are providers—once the latest phone hits the market, it should come their way without their asking. How else would, sans this gizmo—they manage to become World Players?!
There is a definite diminishment of Bapuji’s relevance and so ‘Work is Worship’, now a piercingly shallow cliché.
Dr Renée Ranchan writes on socio-psychological issues, quasi-political matters and concerns that touch us all.