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Examining pain

chandigarh Updated: Aug 18, 2013 11:05 IST
Kanika Dhupar
Kanika Dhupar
Hindustan Times
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Despite being a politician, he has never shied away from calling a spade a spade. He proudly introduces himself as the only editor who was dismissed twice from a national daily and says he is not afraid of going too far and does not believe in living in a delusional world.

In Chandigarh on Saturday at a discussion organised by the Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi as part of its ongoing Chandigarh Heritage Week celebrations, Shourie offered a glimpse into the man and father who confronts the history of his suffering, which was also the subject of his book, Does He Know a Mother’s Heart? How Suffering Refutes Religions, published in 2011. The book is based on the illness of his son Adit, now 37, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and his wife Anita, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease.

The book begins with an anecdote on personal pain but transcends to a public plane as he shifts his attention to theology and religion. Shourie puts forth numerous questions in his book, such as, “If there is an all-knowing God, the father, why does he make his children suffer? Why does he cause them pain? Why does he punish them, torture them and crush them under piles and piles of suffering?” “There are no answers to these questions,” he goes on to write, adding, “but we human beings, seeking a momentary stay against pain and grief, hang on to the abstract concept of an omnipotent deity.”

What one sees on stage is not a prolific or opinionated writer known for his hard-hitting pieces, but a devoted father who has come to terms with his child’s unrelenting pain. When asked what it is like to be trapped in trying circumstances, how his son sifts values and breaks the adult ego and how one copes, Shourie quotes spiritual leader Dalai Lama and says, “If you want to be truly selfish, help someone who cannot help you in return.”

Shourie’s advice to those facing a similar situation is to never think that they have been singled out or to go looking for the reason of the misery, even when the circumstances are wretched. He also categorically censures the doctrine of karma that blames the victim for his past misdeeds leading to his present circumstances. In a lighter vein, Shourie adds, “The past is an unknown Swiss account.”

While deliberating on the philosophy of ‘instant gratification’ followed by youngsters and skyrocketing divorce rates, Shourie says it takes strong commitment to look after a loved one in pain. In his typical style, he offers advice in the form of Mother Teresa words, ‘Love till it hurts’, with an addition made by him: “Love until a while after it hurts so that the pain ceases.”

Today, Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi will hold a session with poet-lyricist Nida Fazli at UT Guest House, Sector 6, at 5.45 pm.