Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A good motto

In Joseph Anton, Rushdie mentions a motto which helped him get through the dark days of the fatwa. This motto is also mentioned in an earlier novel of his, The Moor's last sigh. The motto comes from Joseph Conrad's novel, The Nigger of the 'Narcissus'. A black sailor, James Wait (the 'nigger'of the title), boards the ship called Narcissus even though he is very ill. When asked why he boarded the ship when he was in such a state, he replied, 'I must live until I die, mustn't I?'

That is a good motto to have: live until you die. In an Author's note the novelist, Joseph Conrad writes:

The artist...like the thinker or the man of science, seeks the truth and makes his appeal. Impressed by the aspect of the world the thinker plunges into ideas, the scientist into facts - whence, presently, emerging they make their appeal to those qualities of our being that fit us best for the hazardous enterprise of living.

During the problems that I faced before the IIMA reunion, this was the motto that I used to recall frequently. My big fear was that my back would give up mid-way through the trip and then Jaya and my brother-in-law would have had a tough time bringing me back. But everybody including the doctors and physiotherapists were confident that I could make the trip. With so much encouragement from everybody and a motto to encourage me, I was not going to back out. You could say  that if I had not read Joseph Anton, I may not have gone for the reunion. Reading books has its uses.

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