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Divided, he stands

Divided, he stands

He effortlessly wades out of the glamour world to enter the depths of spirituality.

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Last Updated : 09 July 2024, 21:31 IST
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I have an “open and shut” relative. He is a divided self, switching between two different identities effortlessly. I marvel at his ability to seamlessly drift from one persona to another. Given such non-real states, his true identity lies deeply submerged in a sea of contradictions, surfacing for reality checks only in the company of immediate family or privileged relatives like me.

On a given day, for instance, he cosies up to celebrities whom he assiduously cultivates. He seeks out photo-op moments with them at socio-cultural dos to flaunt as trophies before his friends, either directly or via social media. Nothing delights him more than being told by friends that he has been seen with a celebrity at an awards function. He has, however, mastered the art of disguising his responses in an unflappable tone with a zen-like demeanour. There is a willing price he pays for being seen in the rewarding company of celebrities. He is in a business where he can and does provide largesse through goods and services to oblige celebrities. While the services come free, merchandise is supplied on gentle pay-as-you-please terms as per the payer’s whims. Reminders for payments are gentle, and if rebuffed, the dues are hastily written off. The celeb “friends” drop in at his residence and, over drinks and dinner, indulge in conversations that sometimes lead to a favour casually sought and happily granted. The friendship veneer is transactional. 

Paradoxically, there are occasions when our protagonist adopts a diametrically opposite spiritual persona—conversationally and attitudinally. He gravitates towards his pet subject of “the illusory nature of life, where material acquisitions add to nought”. In such a sublime mood, he flits eloquently between stanzas from the Bhagavad Gita and lines from Kahlil Gibran to justify the need for detachment. With its beatific, sage-like expression, his face matches the mood of the moment. On other occasions, he becomes an informed listener at well-attended spiritual discourses, posing cerebrally-tinged questions to venerable speakers and eliciting all-round appreciative nods. In the process, he ticks the right boxes that point to his innate wisdom and spiritual orientation. When I quizzed him once about his personality contradictions, he retorted, “There is, in some human beings, a caterpillar waiting to transform into a butterfly.” It made me wonder then whether the “spirits” that adorned the well-endowed bar of his drawing room had something to do with his acquired spirituality and philosophically distilled pronouncements. 

As he wades out of the shallows of the glamour world, at a given time, to enter sublime depths, at another, he does not flounder. His alter-ego takes over, ensuring a seamless transition, like a duck to water. 

Given his contradictions, I have long suppressed the temptation of asking him the question plaguing me: “For God’s sake, will the real you please stand up?” Instead, I feel inclined to stand up and salute him in silent admiration.

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