There is a lot to forget and forgive

By Partha Chatterjee

IS THERE ANY POINT LOOKING BACK? No, there is not. Our past has determined our present, true. Precisely how we control our present will, by common logic, carve out the rest of the future. Some of the past still “lives” just like the roots of the tree. But the tree never shrinks back into the earth to trace them. Much in the same way, it is pointless to see symbols of the past to spring back into life. Like my visiting my old school when I lost my father during the “summer vacation” time last century. The Irish American Principal I was used for years and would always look up to had also departed. In his place was an Indian Principal who welcomed me with warmth. Later, I moved around to all the familiar places: classrooms, handball courts, swimming pool, tennis and basketball courts, the place that used to be the Dining Hall and so many other nooks and corners. A few present-day pupils looked at me strangely. I may have spent my childhood and adolescence there but I was now a stranger. The same teachers and pupils were not there. They had all moved on. So, it is the people who make the place, not the other way round. Much the same holds true with every aspect and milestone of life. It was at the University where I had bloomed and blossomed in every way and competition in every sphere found me ready and prepared. But when I went back to my College and my University, I was there as the “Chief Guest”. My memories, as a student, though, kept flooding in. Much the same happened when I visited the Queen Elizabeth Hall at Oxford. One felt like another tourist with a bagful of memories. There were some magnificent people who helped shape my past for what it was. If I am whatever I am, I owe so much to them. It starts with my great parents, wonderful teachers and professors, my friends and my classmates and, as my profession took me beyond what I could never have conceived, to different countries to be with Prime Ministers, Heads of State and Nobel Laureates. My life was virtually on the line at least thrice when I was caught in the crossfire of bullets whizzing past me in 1986, among other places, the Tibetan territory and in Northern Ireland hostilities in Belfast in1989.As a journalist, I still live. I have learnt so many lessons along the way for life is the greatest teacher.Yes,I have mellowed down a great deal with experience.But,I have learnt time and again that it is how we handle the present that will determine the future.True, there is a lot to forget and forgive when you look over your shoulder. But there is so much to treasure too. Yes, we must remain prepared for the inevitable. But before the final gong strikes, let us ensure that we hurt none, be pleasant and good to all but, more importantly, do some good for the others so that they would say, “Here was a good, responsible and selfless man who was compassionate and conscientious and lived a LIFE!”  (writer Utpal Chatterjee is former Kolkata Sheriff, is past president of Dalhousie AC & senior journalist ) 

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