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Where the mind is without fear…

On a hill top in a mountain town not east or north of India, but right in the middle of it, we would stand in line, wearing our immaculate school uniform, for the morning assembly, mechanically singing Tagore’s poem, “Where the mind is without fear.” Never understanding its true meaning. More than 35 years since, […]

On a hill top in a mountain town not east or north of India, but right in the middle of it, we would stand in line, wearing our immaculate school uniform, for the morning assembly, mechanically singing Tagore’s poem, “Where the mind is without fear.” Never understanding its true meaning.

More than 35 years since, in these days, that poem came back to me and surprisingly I was able to recite some of the lines.

In forced sequestration, I am having a different experience than some of my friends. I am enjoying it. For all the 25 years of our marriage, I have had jobs that required travel on a very frequent basis. Their system–my wife and our two kids’, was built around my travel pattern. Papa will be away, and Wednesday will be Chipotle night. As a transient presence, I was admittedly the one in the way when home.

Yes, work hours are extremely long. But meals together at home, frequent connects with the boys are good, and in so many ways. Inability to go to bars and restaurants oddly peaceful. Nobody visiting us does not bother. Evenings on the cul de sac with chairs out with the neighbors magical. We sit with our own bottles of wine at a good distance. In 4 years in the neighborhood, it is only now that we are getting to know each other. I go for long walks in the evenings to wind down and with my own random thoughts. Those out for a walk now wave at each other. We have a terrace upstairs like an old Indian Haveli. At times, I get on my Zoom calls from there in the afternoons with a full view of the Mummy Mountain.

My little transgression: I am still going to the coffee shop in the morning but with care. The owner, the woman who has owned it for 15 years looks forward to seeing me. Besides the good coffee, my interest is in her staying in business.

I am cleaning our living space that reminds me of my father who was an industrious man. I speak to my mother now more caringly, a bit like my brother. I cooked last Saturday and made everything from scratch. Never noticed how good the tomatoes taste. Stored hot peppers in vinegar in bottles. When I see the bottles, I see in it the fruit of my industry. Writing in my journal daily. TV and social media, full of ideological bias or apocalyptic scenarios, so I try to avoid. Listening to old songs. Meditating with devotion.

I will miss these days and remember them fondly if God decides to not destroy it all. I wish peace and recovery to those ill.

But today, I hum Tagore’s lines loudly in my backyard watching our four citrus trees, as I sip on a 2015 Montrachet:

Where the mind is without fear…

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments…

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection…

Into dreary desert sand of dead habit…

Into ever widening thought and action…

Girish Rishi is CEO at Blue Yonder, in Arizona.

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