Mauritius Times – 60 Years Ago
By Somduth Bhuckory
Youth must have a purpose in life. True it is that youthful aims are often whittled down by family or financial difficulties. But a purpose should be stouter. They should not deter you from your destiny.
Pitch your aim at the pedestal of the stars. And look at it eternally. If you pitch your aim, you fix your destination. If you fix your goal, you know what you are up to. If you know your limit, you will neither deviate nor deflect. If you neither digress nor divert, you will concentrate on the singleness of purpose. And if you can concentrate about any matter, no power on earth can make you falter and fail.
An aimless life is not worth living. Whatever you do, wherever you go or whoever you mix up with, be inspired by your aim. Let it become your star to spur you onward. Let it become your lighthouse. If you are so inspired, momentary temptations will not assail you. You will squander neither money nor your precious energies in vainglorious pursuits. All that you do will have a kinship with your great ideal. All that you endeavour will be towards the furtherance of your purpose. When you read you will know what you want. When you spend, you will keep within bounds. Your heart will become your own check. If you go to any excess, your aim will frown furiously towards you and cry halt.
If you have a purpose, you develop a conscience. As soon as you develop a conscience you will recognize the power of the Almighty. Conscience, according to Wordsworth, is the voice of God. If you recognize the existence of the Great Power, you will begin to realise the purpose for which man has come to earth. All animals grow up, struggle and die. Then in what way is man superior? If you just live, enjoy and die, you are like the jackal, the cobra or the sparrow.
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And what is enjoyment? Who is happy? What makes for happiness? It was Horace, who said that there is a sense of tears in all human happiness. All our happiness is clouded by a veneer of darkness. Whenever we are very happy, the reaction of tearful remorse is waiting at the eaves. Not so the joy we get in divine contemplation. It is illumined by faith and sustained by character. That is indeed the summum bonum of life. The rest is crude casuistry.
If you have no aim, you will become either a truant or a tramp. You will stir out not because you must but just because of your wanderlust. You will sniff into odd shop windows, visit restaurants and picture houses, perambulate around busy corners. In this way the impressionistic plate of your mind that should have treasured bits of knowledge towards your manly equipments is replete with vain emotional shadows that tax the brain. Sniffing and peering about aimlessly beget vices. The poor, immature mind gets unbalanced. You begin to think that romance is a serious quest of life.
The cinema in a bourgeoisie society contributes towards this colossal folly. Most of the screen stories veer round the axis of romance. Lovers have often all that they require: palaces, limousines, wealth, luxury and the only problem of their life is to get the girls on whom they have set their heart. As if life is only drive, dance, dinner-parties and dalliance! How unreal, how unlifelike. We do not get things so pat. We must struggle. Lover in actual life is not at all that first-sight affair. Few people in our days would care to love anyone seriously unless lie has satisfied himself with the answers of a thousand questions about her. Love is accommodation, social adjustment, an attempt to perpetuate mutual regard.
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So there is a time for hard work and there is a time for love-making. The second can wait indefinitely. But not the first. There is an age for studies, for building the fabric of your manliness. If love is a social adjustment what right have you to love if you haven’t made yourself worthy? If you have been leading a truant life, you will dress and spend beyond your means. You will relegate your serious occupations to the second plane. And you will immaturely come to contract all manner of vices.
You will give meticulous care to your facial get-up and rub all beauty ointments. You will go to the best tailor and try to be a dandy. You will walk with that twisting department that is disgustingly feminine. What a huge fool you have made yourself! Do you know what attracts the opposite sex? Only 2% care for your face or dress; only 6% care to look at you if you are the son of a millionaire. This is the frivolous lot of girls. The serious girls want to know your own worth, your many-sided qualities shorn of your patrimonial feathers. You will make a hell of your life if you do not attract a serious girl. To do that you must make yourself worthy. To make yourself worthy, you must postpone romance and pleasures and settle down to make yourself a man.
And should you be a girl and wish to deck yourself à la papillon, you will make no conquest as there are rare eccentric collectors of butterflies in the world. The association that serious young men have about a housewife is that she should radiate sympathy all round, chasten the home atmosphere and infuse in the children all that is noble. It is there that I sincerely feel that there is a tremendous amount of misunderstanding on the score of love and romance. If this folly were dissipated, people would realise that life has noble quests.
If you make yourself somebody, then scores of future partners will covet you. That is the golden rule. Do not content yourself into obscure glories of being that son of Mr X or the son-in-law of Mr Y. You will die unhappy, wretched and in the worst of humiliations. Be a man by yourself. If you have a patrimony, use it to adorn your brain. If you rise from the impecunious, strive hard to shine in glory above the might of money by exerting your brain. Life is a competition at every stage. The future lies in the hands of those who know how to strive hard and not to yield.
* Published in print edition on 20 December 2019