Remain usefully engaged

Dr Ashok Bhan
Book Name: “Musings of the
Mind- During Corona
Author: Er Lalit Mengi
Publisher: Prabhat Paperbacks, New Delhi 2022,
Pages : 184
Rs 250
The author of this paperback, musings of the Mind-During Corona Times Shri Lalit Mengi, an accomplished Engineer, met me some days back. He had a very captivating and charming brightness on his face. Like all of us he too had faced a very difficult Covid time, yet he looked cheerful.
“Maine unke chehre pe ajab noor paya,
Wajah sochi to yeh khayal aya.
Bura waqt (Covid) to sab ka aata hai,
Koi bikhar jaata hai, Koi nikhar jata hai”
The reason for his cheerfulness was not far to seek. As I flipped through the pages of the book that he had just handed to me, I could see that Shri Mengi had used the difficult Covid Times in an intellectual and literary pursuit instead of wasting time on trivial domestic issues and endlessly lamenting over Covid menace and its handling. The result is a very fascinating compilation titled “Musings of the Mind- during Corona Times”.
Let me quote from the preface itself, in the poetic style of the author, how he spent his time gainfully:
“Breaching the bounds of initial trepidations of its kind,
Shunning trivia of the daily grind;
I would dedicate hours on end;
Catching up with the theme, with a focussed mind;
Slowly and gradually, commitment with patience did descend.”
(Trepidation: A feeling of fear or anxiety that something unpleasant may happen)
The author shunned trivia of the daily grind. He did not suffer from the widespread WhatsApp diarrhea and possibly stepped aside an addictive- copy, paste and post syndrome. That has done wonders.
Readers will thoroughly enjoy the simple language, rich vocabulary and style of delivering thoughts ‘through prose in poetry’ in this magnificent work. He has used his pen over a wide canvas of thoughts from turbulence of mind to environment to festivities to music to pilgrimage and Prasad to remembering his friends and much more. The book has three broad themes; Philosophy of Life- An insight; Human Traits- A reflection; and “Covid 19”- its Journey and Outfall. He has not only proved his passion for writing but he has provided strong signs of being an accomplished author. His writing is captivating, forceful and soothing to the mind. I recommend it to all those with a literary taste.
I particularly liked him remind that aging is irreversible and we should face it with grace. This theme amply highlights the depth of his practical wisdom and accepting this realty.
“Could I put brakes in the journey of age?
Could I, in my make-belief world, thwart the next stage?
Only to my dismay, not to accept the ineluctable; (inescapable)
Why not accept the reality, it is not reversible.”
And under another theme the Author counsels us to ‘lighten the baggage’ as we go through the inevitable process of aging:
“At home, as I look around,
Do I find superfluous items and gadgets, of no use.
Yet to part with the clutter, my mind would refuse;
But to be abound with all this stuff, beyond the pale of reason it sounds.”
This is a very practical advice. Get rid of the superfluous stuff. What you have not worn for or used for 5 years, you are unlikely to use it now. So why not pass on to someone needy? When you are no more, these will be the belongings of the dead. Even your dear ones will shilly-shally in handling them.
With the advent of online platforms sadly books are fast losing their patrons. Gulzar Ji has very aptly described this sadness highlighting the strengths of reading books in his Hindi poem ‘Kitaben’ from which I quote the opening and the concluding lines:
“Kitaben jhankti hain band almari ke sheeshon se
Badi hasrat se takti hain
Mahino ab mulakaten nahi hoti
Jo shame un ki sohbat main kata karti then, ab aksar
Guzar jaati hain computer ke pardo par
Badi baichain rehti hain kitaben
Unhe ab neend main chalne ki aadat ho gayee hai”
The last Para that I quote has a romantic touch which Readers will relate to their youth and college days:
“Woh sara ilm to milta rahega ayinda bhi
Magar woh jo kitabon main mila karte the sukhe phool aur
Mehke hue rukke,
Kitaben mangne, girne, uthane ke bahane rishte bante the,
Unka kya hoga,
Woh jaane ab nahi honge.”
It is sincerely hoped that works like this will contribute in recreating interest in reading of Books.
We all have been through very difficult times. An adversity has befallen the humankind in the form of a pandemic caused by a deadly Virus. Normally adversity brings people together to face the challenge. Unfortunately, Covid times have distanced people. Some of it was essential due to social distancing and other precautions. What the author despises is that people have started unnecessarily distancing under the cover of Covid. Aloofness and loneliness has become integral to post Covid times. The author makes a strong case not to make loneliness a habit. There can be nothing more damaging to the body and mind.
Let me quote how the author pens converting his Covid induced loneliness into an intellectual pursuit:
“With Covid Times and concomitant solitude,
Came calling opportunity, knocking at my door.
Confined to my groove, away from multitudes;
writing becoming a regular story, staying indoors.
I read and re-read books, with a lot of gratitude;
To the great authors, triggering my dormant instincts,
To the highest magnitude.
Author forcefully gives a call to senior citizens to keep engaged. Keep your mind busy. Don’t distance from the society under the cover of Covid. Get up every morning. Dress up. Sit on your work desk. Go out to shop. Go to the Bank. When possible take your son/ daughter with you to the bank to introduce them. Look up a relative. Share your happiness and shoulder the sadness of those known. Develop a hobby.
This is an era of technology. We must remain abreast with the basics. Use technology for banking, booking travel tickets, renewing medical and vehicle insurance and also don’t hesitate to extensively use Dr Google to add to your knowledge. But while you use technology, let it not come in your way to keep in touch with friends, acquaintances and relatives.
In the words of the author:
“Last but not the least; let’s reach out to the people who
Once mattered in our lives;
Got lost in the transitions of the materialistic world, for a while;
Let us give our emotions an expression; and
Not to make pre-occupations an alibi;
Lest we get estranged and have to say good bye.
Author’s message is loud and clear. Remain usefully engaged. Let loneliness not suck your liveliness. Intellectual engagement will keep you alert mentally. Let this book serve as a reminder, to each one of us, not to make loneliness a habit. Loneliness and aloofness act like termites. Fill the loneliness with liveliness, productive pursuits and healthy engagements.
To conclude, let me quote Ghalib from Shri Mengi’s book:
“Masroof rehne ka andaaz,
Tumhein tanha na kar de Ghalib,
Rishte fursat ke nahi,
Tawajo ke mohtaj hote hain”
(The author is former Director General of Police)