There are some persons whom you keep on meeting, whether you want or not. You get so used to it that you stop thinking about these people and these meetings.
There are others, whom you know, you will have to meet. You know you have no choice. So you try to keep it as short as possible. You rush through it.
Today was one of those days when I wanted to avoid meeting these two types of people. Not because I hate them, they are not worth that intense feeling, but they tend to draw you out of yourself. Today was one of those days when I wanted to be with myself. Now I am happy because I have been almost successful at not meeting any of them. This is sheer luck, nothing else.
On the other hand, there are others, whom you badly want to meet, but somehow do not meet when you need them most. You expect, you even try but somehow you cannot reach them. They either have become stranger to you or there is some kind of stress in your relationship with them. Sometimes people are simply busy; there is a distance which you cannot cover. Sometimes, the urge of meeting is not mutual. One end of the line is closed down without the other being aware of it.
There is yet another category. Some people you want to meet, but never meet. You go so near but miss meeting them. Not even a formal meeting. You like these people, you have a kind of dream of meeting them; you respect them and would take extra efforts to meet them. Mostly these people are public figures, famous people.
I once had a good opportunity to meet well known Marathi poet Kusumagraj. I adore his writing and meeting him was a life time chance.
Kusumagraj Pratishthan (Foundation) had declared a competitive examination focused on Marathi Literature. I generally keep away from competitions. But I respect and like (well, these two are not necessarily mutual feelings!) Kusumagraj so much that I thought responding to the appeal by the Foundation was the right step. If you love someone, you need to turn that into an action desired by that person. So I appeared for that examination. It was not a typical classroom examination but an open book examination. I studied different aspects of Marathi literature and enjoyed my study for months. Then within a stipulated period, the writing was to be submitted to the Foundation.
It was a coincidence that I won the first prize. I was invited to Nasik. The invitation letter said that Kusumagraj would be present for the prize distribution ceremony.
I was based in Pune then and was associated with an organization as a Full Time Activist. My colleagues from Nasik arranged organizational meeting on the same day. I was intelligent enough to understand that they had arranged it so that I could participate in the Foundation prize distribution ceremony. I was tempted to meet Kusumagraj and so I happily accepted to facilitate one day meeting.
When I reached the venue of the function, the Pratishthan people welcomed me. ‘When would I be able to meet Kusumagraj?” I asked eagerly- a bit like a child.
“Sorry, but he is not attending the function.” One of the office bearers of the Pratishthan informed me.
I was so disappointed that I lost the interest in the ceremony. I almost turned back but stopped not realizing what reason I should give for turning away from the function. I am a very transparent person and people generally can read my face easily – especially sensitive people. One of the Foundation volunteers fully understood my disappointment. He hastily added, “If you insist, we can arrange your meeting with him. But remember, for just couple of minutes because he is really not keeping well. He would not like to disappoint you like this because he has read your writing (the one that was submitted to Foundation) and he appreciated it so much.”
For a moment I was in a dilemma. Here was a chance to meet a Jnyanapeeth Award winner poet – a poet and writer whom I respected. But at the same time he was not well. He was not in a position to meet me; otherwise he would not have denied the meeting. If I insisted, he would meet me no doubt. But by troubling him in such a way, what was I going to get?
Did not his poetry and his writing always give me immense joy and happiness – whether I met him or not? Did not his words convey me what was to be conveyed? What was I going to say him when I meet? Saying ‘Thank you’ to such a great person was out of question. Except for satisfying my ego, I was not going to get anything by meeting him – when he did not want.
“It is alright. I do not want to trouble him when he is not well,” I said and attended the function till the end.
Some of my friends were very angry with me for not insisting meeting Kusumagraj. But I do not regret the decision. In its real sense, I do not miss meeting Kusumagraj. This is possible because my relationship with Kusumagraj is nurtured through his powerful words – both poetry and prose. The bridge is already functional – without personal interaction. Meeting him in person would certainly have been a memorable moment - but not meeting him never destroyed my deeper sense of his being part of my world.
Kusumagraj is always there when I want him, when I need him most.
We never met, but he has always been part of my life. I never miss him. That is such a luxury.