Recently, I wrote an essay titled ‘Solitude’ for my English class in my father’s tuition. I got fairly good marks from baba for this essay. It was also an essay that I enjoyed writing, as it made me think. Here is the essay that I wrote:
The dictionary tells us that solitude is ‘a state of being alone’. It is a feeling that seems to float like an ominous dark cloud on the lives of people, always eager to engulf their lives with gloom and despair. When given a choice, no person would choose solitude over company. Solitary confinement is the worst punishment that one can have to suffer. Solitude is like living death: this is the most common idea about solitude. However, in reality, solitude might sometimes turn out to be blissful.
Imagine a beautiful sea shore. The waves are lapping gently on the beach. It is twilight, and a soft breeze is blowing over the water. Would you like to sit in such a place with a large number of noisy friends? Then again, think of the last time you tried to listen to a good song in the midst of a crowd. At such a time, you would have given anything to get a little time alone with your music. There was nothing that you detested more than the crowd around you. Or maybe, the day before the mathematics examination, when the only thing you wanted was to be alone with your revision in a room. In all these times, solitude turns out to be one’s dearest friend. Sometimes, people need to be alone just to unwind. At such times, all kinds of thoughts and feelings crowd one’s mind. That is the time for self-analysis and self-realization. One uses that time to sort oneself out, and try to understand one’s own heart. It is during such periods of solitude that flashes of inspiration may astound a person. A girl sitting alone humming softly may suddenly realize that she has an entire poem ready in her mind, waiting to be written down. The greatest masters of the world have almost always created their masterpieces in solitude.
Contradictory as it may sound, you can enjoy solitude even when you are sitting in a large company. Completely self-engrossed people in all ages have been able to feel that they are alone with themselves amidst noisy crowds. However, it takes a great amount of discipline and dedication to reach that level of self-possession. We call those who have achieved this extraordinary, and revere them as great and holy men. Such solitude gives a person completeness, and he attains enlightenment.
So we see that solitude is a very important part of life. One needs all kinds of experiences to live life fully, and the experience of solitude is an essential one. After all, it is in solitude that man can understand oneself, and with understanding comes growth.
I really do enjoy being alone. It is nice to be able to talk to yourself without having people staring at you and wondering whether you are completely nuts. Anyway, the activities that I enjoy doing the most cannot really be done in a group. Take reading, for example. Let alone serious, thought-provoking books, even light chick-lit cannot be read properly with friends. Reading is something that you have to do alone. It is not an experience that you can share. Even in literary clubs and places like that, people go and select their own books, and read quietly by themselves. Then there is watching movies. A movie hall is certainly not the best place to watch a good movie. The amount of noise and disturbance that goes on in a hall makes it nearly impossible to concentrate on the movie itself. In fact, I hardly ever go to the cinema to watch movies, and when I do, it is not so much for the movie as to spend some time with my friends. Watching the movie takes a backseat then.
As for enjoying nature, it is something that one can hardly ever do with people. Maybe a big reason for that is, nowadays most people cannot perceive the beauty of nature. That is why even when people go on holiday trips they choose places that have lots of hotels and restaurants, shopping malls and beauty salons, discos and nightclubs. Going for picnics with such people is indeed a tiresome thing. Even if they go to a beautiful place, they will shout, fight, dirty the surroundings, and come away without taking in even a little of the beauty of the scenery around them. When asked to recall the picnic, they will talk about everything other than the place they went to. This attitude of today’s population is actually a blessing to oddities like us who enjoy basking in the beauty and the serenity of their surroundings. My family and I love to pay occasional visits to a place called ‘Molan-Dighi’ outside Durgapur-proper. The road to this outlandish place is through Sal forests, and the traffic is not too thick there. People do not stop while passing by the forests, at any rate, so it is a comparatively quiet place. We enjoy the wholesome peace and solitude of the place, and so when we start feeling suffocated by the noise and overwhelming flow of humanity in the town, baba takes us to this enchanting little place, where we spend a blissful hour or two, each absorbed in our own little worlds in our heads, happily oblivious to the outer world. And sometimes, when I spend such idyllic hours of seclusion, I suddenly realize why Rabindranath Tagore has said, “Moha bishshe mohakashe Mohakalo majhe/ Ami Manobo ekaki bhromi bishshoye, bhromi bishshoye”…