Don’t ever try to live your Life trying to satisfy others and, in the process, live with your dreams and aspirations being left unfulfilled.
This does not mean you must not serve others. Of course you must. But when you serve others and think you are making a sacrifice, you are really saying, you don’t want to be doing this, but are having to do this. This is where grief comes in. And where there is grief, how can there be joy? So, either you serve others selflessly or you just don’t do anything other than focusing on yourself. Either way, Live Life your way and be happy doing it!
Today is legendary Bollywood singer Kishore Kumar’s birthday (he passed away in 1987, at 58). He was one person who lived his Life fully, on his own terms, often being called ‘loony’ and ‘weird’ by people that knew him, but he enjoyed every bit of his Life! Further, his sense of enjoyment created his art, invaluable, priceless gems in Indian cinema music. It’s hard to imagine Kishoreda to have delivered the kind of songs he sang without being every bit of the unpredictable yet extremely humane person that he was.
In an interview he gave to Pritish Nandy (of the Illustrated Weekly of Indiathen) in April 1985, Kishoreda was brutally honest. Here are some relevant excerpts for our learning:
Pritish Nandy: Well, some people think you are crazy about money. Others describe you as a clown, pretending to be kinky but sane as hell. Still others find you cunning and manipulative. Which is the real you?
Kishore Kumar: I play different roles at different times. For different people. In this crazy world, only the truly sane man appears to be mad. Look at me. Do you think I’m mad? Do you think I can be manipulative?
Pritish Nandy: Well, you are notorious for the trouble you give your directors and producers. Why is that?
Kishore Kumar: Nonsense. They give me trouble. You think they give a damn for me? I matter to them only because I sell. Who cared for me during my bad days? Who cares for anyone in this profession?
Pritish Nandy: Is that why you prefer to be a loner?
Kishore Kumar: Look, I don’t smoke, drink or socialize. I never go to parties. If that makes me a loner, fine. I am happy this way. I go to work and I come back straight home. To watch my horror movies, play with my spooks, talk to my trees, sing. In this avaricious world, every creative person is bound to be lonely. How can you deny me that right?
Pritish Nandy: You don’t have many friends?
Kishore Kumar: None.
Pritish Nandy: That’s rather sweeping.
Kishore Kumar: People bore me. Film people particularly bore me. I prefer talking to my trees.
Pritish Nandy: People would have thought you crazy. In fact they already do.
Kishore Kumar: Who said I’m crazy. The world is crazy; not me.
Pritish Nandy: Why do you have this reputation for doing strange things?
Kishore Kumar: It all began with this girl who came to interview me. In those days I used to live alone. So she said: You must be very lonely. I said: No, let me introduce you to some of my friends. So I took her to the garden and introduced her to some of the friendlier trees. Janardhan; Raghunandan; Gangadhar; Jagannath; Buddhuram; Jhatpatajhatpatpat. I said they were my closest friends in this cruel world. She went and wrote this bizarre piece, saying that I spent long evenings with my arms entwined around them. What’s wrong with that, you tell me? What’s wrong making friends with trees?
Pritish Nandy: Nothing.
Kishore Kumar: Then, there was this interior decorator – a suited, booted fellow who came to see me in a three-piece woollen Saville Row suit in the thick of summer and began to lecture me about aesthetics, design, visual sense and all that. After listening to him for about half an hour and trying to figure out what he was saying through his peculiar American accent, I told him that I wanted something very simple for my living room. Just water – several feet deep – and little boats floating around, instead of large sofas. I told him that the centre-piece should be anchored down so that the tea service could be placed on it and all of us could row up to it in our boats and take sips from our cups. But the boats should be properly balanced, I said, otherwise we might whizz past each other and conversation would be difficult. He looked a bit alarmed but that alarm gave way to sheer horror when I began to describe the wall decor. I told him that I wanted live crows hanging from the walls instead of paintings – since I liked nature so much. And, instead of fans, we could have monkeys farting from the ceiling. That’s when he slowly backed out from the room with a strange look in his eyes. The last I saw of him was him running out of the front gate, at a pace that would have put an electric train to shame. What’s crazy about having a living room like that, you tell me? If he can wear a woollen, three-piece suit in the height of summer, why can’t I hang live crows on my walls?
Pritish Nandy: I understand you are quitting Bombay and going away to Khandwa…
Kishore Kumar: Who can live in this stupid, friendless city where everyone seeks to exploit you every moment of the day? Can you trust anyone out here? Is anyone trustworthy? Is anyone a friend you can count on? I am determined to get out of this futile rat race and live as I’ve always wanted to. In my native Khandwa, the land of my forefathers. Who wants to die in this ugly city?
Imagine in 1985, when information was much less easily available and people were a lot more conservative in India, Kishoreda’s ability to do what he wanted, giving a damn about what people thought, had, among many other things, a huge spiritual dimension to it. He was at peace with himself. And that’s perhaps why he was able to deliver such outstanding, soulful, masterpieces. That too from someone who had no formal training in music, who came to Mumbai only because he wanted to see his superstar brother Ashok Kumar and to meet his idol, the singer K.L.Saigal just once!
Our learning: Live your Life your way. That’s when Life’s way for you will be born!