THE STORY OF AN ORDINARY MAN

This man was so ordinary that he believed in the goodness of others, more than his own. One could read him so easily, like an open book. He was not judgemental. He lacked the ‘intellect’ intellectuals feign to have. When this man was successfully steering the boat of his life, he jumped from the boat, in search of a new shore. His family couldn’t understand why he left them afloat midstream. He never tried to clarify his standpoint. He thought his people would understand him one day. He never intruded into the lives of others. He did not like the intervention of others in his matters. He was not a go-getter type. He was happy if something came to him in an ordinary way. He was full of love; as if the world is made of only good people. He possessed nothing, but was full of contentment. It did not bother him if someone was ahead of him. He also did not think that he was a laggard. He was so ordinary that no one considered him his competitor. His ‘invisibility’ to others, even to his own people, was not a matter of remorse for him. He had limited desires. His bank account did not have balance but his net worth did not bother him anytime. He was a confident man. He believed in the present, more than the future. He understood the difference between need and want. He thought travelling first class is a waste of money. He preferred bicycles. Distances never bothered him. He loved to listen to music. He loved it if someone explained to him the meaning of the song. Any food was good to him. His prescription - follow nature’s laws and you will not be sick. He could bear pain. He had a relationship with the world that was deeply spiritual. He was a wandering ascetic. He was not a house holder in the stricter senses. He, however, wanted to have a corner room in his tiny home, among his people. He took particular care that he was not bothering anyone. He tried to maintain this consciousness until the last breath. He was not sorry that he was not leaving any assets for anyone. He believed that assets are something that are made, and are not made to be given on a platter. His children were his assets. He never demanded any obedience, nor showed any authority. Was he a mere spectator, or an observer? For most sons, fathers are role models. He was not his son’s role model. Despite this he was very proud of his son.

I was reading the story of an extraordinary man. Orhan Pamuk in his Nobel address describes father-son relationship. It goes as follows: Two years before Orhan’s father died, he gave him a small suitcase filled with his writings, manuscripts and notebooks. He wanted Orhan to read them after he died. Senior Pamuk was looking for a place to rid himself of a painful burden. Ultimately he deposited it quietly in an unobtrusive corner. “Because of the mysterious weight of its contents”, Orhan felt he couldn't even touch it. By ‘weight’ he meant - “It is what a person creates when he shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and retires to a corner to express his thoughts – that is, the meaning of literature.”

One of the things that kept Orhan distant from his father’s suitcase was the fear that he may not like what he reads. “My real fear, the crucial thing that I did not wish to know or discover, was the possibility that my father might be a good writer. I couldn't open my father's suitcase because I feared this. Even worse, I couldn't even admit this myself openly. If true and great literature emerged from my father's suitcase, I would have to acknowledge that inside my father there existed an entirely different man. This was a frightening possibility. Because even at my advanced age I wanted my father to be only my father – not a writer.”

Orhan was fearful and at the same time did not want to prejudge his father. A father who has never been a “commanding, forbidding, overpowering, punishing, ordinary father, but a father who always left me free, always showed me the utmost respect.” Orhan believed very deeply “that I had been able to become a writer because my father had, in his youth, wished to be one, too.”

When Orhan finished his first novel, he was 22, with trembling hands he gave the manuscript to his father to read and tell him what he thought about it. His father’s opinion was very important for him. His father returns two weeks later. “I ran to open the door. My father said nothing, but he at once threw his arms around me in a way that told me he had liked it very much. For a while, we were plunged into the sort of awkward silence that so often accompanies moments of great emotion. Then, when we had calmed down and began to talk, my father resorted to highly charged and exaggerated language to express his confidence in me or my first novel: he told me that one day I would win the prize that I am here to receive with such great happiness.”

The ordinary man did not leave a suitcase for his son. But his son knew that another man existed inside his father. This man was very different from the one he apparently looked like. He did not write poetry but he was a poet.