Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Babbling Lunatics

As a child, I used to take walks in a forested area behind our house, and most of those walks would be quite lonely. Once in while, I would come across people I knew, and we would greet each other. Sometimes, I would come across complete strangers, but there would still be a cursory acknowledgment of the presence of a fellow human being, with a smile. It was as if the other person wanted to say, "Look, this is a forest. There is that bird on the tree, tweeting its life away. There is this big sloth bear I saw a few minutes ago, and am I glad that it ignored me. But, there you are, a fellow human being, and I am smiling at you since I can."

Very often, in the same forest, I would walk by a man, who seemed to be mentally ill. Sometimes, he would sit under a tree talking to himself. On some occasions, I found him sitting on the highest branch of a tree,  singing a melancholy tune. But, there was something very certain about our encounters. He would never acknowledge my presence as a fellow human being. And he would always be talking to himself. 

Today, I was taking a walk in a semi-forested area. And, I came across three people, all of whom were very clearly talking to someone on their cellphones. They walked by me, and none of them acknowledged the presence of a fellow human being. And, they all seemed to be talking to themselves.

Later, in a completely different context, a colleague asked me what I thought was the biggest impact of cellphones on our lives. Almost spontaneously, I said, "Cellphones take perfectly normal human beings and make babbling lunatics out of them."

He seemed surprised, but I hope you understand.


  1. here this man "who seemed to be mentally ill" reminds of a quote by Khalil Gibran...

    "Here I sit between my brother the mountain and my sister the sea. We three are one in loneliness, and the love that binds us together is deep and strong and strange."

  2. Oh yes, I understand, and you don't even need to be in the forest; they're everywhere, and will walk right into you on the sidewalks (but maybe that's from the texting). I often wonder why so many seem to be so fearful of their own thoughts that they can't have quiet for even a moment, and do they know what they are missing by abandoning that quiet?

    As a first-time visitor, I mostly want to thank you for your blog. You are a wonderful storyteller and melodic writer, and you make me smile.

  3. Dear Anony: Thanks for sharing Khalil Gibran's poetry. He was truly a great master! You are right, sometimes, the so called "mentally ill" are probably more at peace with their inner self than the rest of us are.

    Dear Kathleen: Thanks for your kind words and for stopping by. I am very happy to know that you enjoy my writing. Will look forward to more visits from you!

  4. Desi Babu, as always you are Brilliant.
    The only difference between the forest lunatic and the babbling lunatic is; the former,during sane moments, if ever he has any, curses his creator, but the later lunatic thinks himself to be the blessed one and thanks the cell phone maker for making him a lunatic.

  5. @ Desi Babu
    Sir,are you an IIT/BITS PILANI alumnus? You so much seem like one?
    PS: You are gifted-writer, please keep sharing with us your lovely experiences...

  6. Dear Anony: Yes, I did go to one of those places, but I learned to cross my "i's" and dot my "t's" much later in life ;-). Plus, it was a long time ago and it hardly matters now.

    Thanks again for your comments. Please keep visiting!