fitting in to the jigsaw

April 28, 2010

I was recently on a country bus in Tamil Nadu, India. Only those who have visited India can know what that means, in terms of overcrowding, heat, being jolted and bounced about, all forms of discomfort. Or those who live in India, but those just take it for granted, they have gotten used to it. 

Quite a few students were on the bus, from some college in Salem. Mercifully I had a seat, and was sitting next to one of them, and noticed the notebook he was carrying. I mean an exercise book, not a laptop. This was the design on the front cover:

Imagine 9 pieces of a jigsaw, the interlocking type, in a 3×3 array. But the middle piece is not quite fitted in. The other 8 pieces are plain white, but the one yet to be fitted is red, presumably to turn white when fitted fully in, THe fitting-in process is being carried out by a small lego-type figure who presumably represents a teacher, while the red jigsaw piece is a student – at the college. The lego man is heaving him into place.

 The design on the book really needs no comment. It simply represents the normal educational aspirations of people. It is the conventional perspective. The back cover of the notebook carried an even more explicit design. This time the lego figure  represents the student. He is starting to cross a bridge, a narrow footbridge stretching across an abyss – composed of white jigsaw pieces. Except that the centre piece is missing, the bridge cannot be traversed. However, the lego man has the answer, he carries at this side, like a briefcase, the missing piece, as yet in red.

 In case there is any confusion about just where the bridge will take you, on the other side of the chasom is a huge glowing billboard sign. It says, simply, SUCCESS.

The sign does not elaborate what what exactly is mean by success. Judging by most of our lives, it is rather a limited concept. Success in the market place perhaps, for some, but failure in terms of affection, fairness, compassion, goodness, clarity, love ….. the things that really make our lives what they are.


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