REFLECTIONS AND RECOLLECTIONS.
I am beginning a new series of blogs titled “THE DUALITIES OF LIFE “. In the opening blog, I would describe the reasons that prompted me to write these blogs. Of course, the prime reason for writing on this topic is that I am writing my third novel on this topic. However, when I began writing that novel, I realised that the notion of a duality is present in every aspect of our lives. I also realised that I would not be able to weave all these nuances into the fabric of my next novel. Therefore, I have decided to write a series of blogs to delve upon some of these nuances of duality. This series of blogs would try to deconstruct the very idea of duality, how it defines the way we think and what its meaning is. I would begin with my own life in this first blog. Then, I would move on to different aspects of our lives. Finally, I would move on to my third novel. I hope to end this series of blogs with the completion of my third novel which is centred around this topic of duality of human existence and how our psyche copes with this.
Before I describe what the notion of duality is and why I think it is central to the understanding of human life, I would begin with my own life and how I realised the importance of duality. As I have often mentioned, I am a scientist by profession and a novelist by vocation. Therefore, in that sense, I am a living example of a duality. I have often wondered whether I am a scientist who writes novels or I am a novelist who is also a scientist. After all these years of wondering, I don’t have any clear idea of who am I. This lack of clarity was my starting point for self inspection. Therefore, I decided some couple of months ago, when I had finished my second novel “THE HUMAN PILGRIMAGE. “ , to explore this ambiguity in my life. This gave me an idea of my third novel. Therefore, at present, I am writing the novel as a way to introspect and understand who am I and what it means to be a human being full of ambiguities.
Before I elaborate on what I mean by a duality, let me tell you why I think I am a scientist as well as a novelist at the same time. I can trace my both these abilities right up to my bringing up. I think I became a scientist because of my father and a novelist because of my mother. Let me clarify. Neither my father was a scientist, nor my mother was a literatus. More importantly, I am not trying to be like my parents. All I am saying is that my being a scientist and a novelist is my way of saying thank you to my parents. Still more importantly, I think that I am lucky to be able to thank my parents by doing things that come natural to me anyway.
When I think of my father, I can still remember his acute analytical skills. He was a rationalist who taught me to value reason and the knowledge that reason begets. Incidentally, it was my father who introduced me to the world of literature, both Indian and English. He was a bibliophile and introduced me to libraries in Mumbai. When I look back, I find it ironical that in spite of my father being responsible for introducing me to the world of literature, he didn’t influence me to become a novelist. I think I became a novelist because of my mother. I think my mother shaped my emotional world. She taught me to use emotions to reach the truth that logic can never have access to. While writing my novels, I can feel shades of my mother’s non judgemental attitude in my writing. Similarly, when I do my research work, I can see my father’s catholic sagacity in my work.
As you can see, in my case, the duality of being a scientist and a novelist was the result of different personalities of my parents. I think this is true for all of us. We carry diverse influences from our childhood. We are shaped by different forces and as a result we are not one dimensional individuals. I think it is this, being individuals made up of different parts, is what makes us so unique.
I have come to realise that the reason why we think in terms of dualism about every sphere of our lives is because we are genetically programmed to think by simply dividing things into small fragments. Since the first step in our thinking leads to two halves, our first perception is that of duality. Of course, we subsequently break down these dualities into smaller fragments, but our first impression of duality persists. Therefore, it is possible that these dualities are not true. However, our value system is still governed by this notion of duality. It is this ambiguity about the nature of these dualities, of being so fundamental in our value system and yet of being artifacts of our thinking, that I would discuss in these blogs.
The real trouble with our preoccupation of dividing everything into fragments, is that we lose out an opportunity to integrate our different facets into a single personality. We, as a species, are torn between reason and emotions, between our culture and our instincts and between conscious and subconscious states of our psyche. I would take up different nuances of the duality of our existence in the subsequent blogs.
I would like to end this blog with a couple of personal notes. My parents were not alive when I achieved some excellence in both these fields. I would regret this fact all my life. Maybe, life gives us what we wish for, but at the same time, it takes away something from us, something that we cherish. Maybe, life itself is the ultimate duality. Secondly, my sister also played a critical role in shaping my personality. I promise to write about her some day , but not now, because her loss is still raw in my psyche.
I would take a look at the duality of good and bad in my next blog.