Points to Ponder:

What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself. (Abraham Maslow)

Jumat, 22 April 2011

THE POWER OF LOVE: Comments on Syed Abdul Malik’s Short-Story “Compassion”

Tutut Guntari
Love is so powerful that it can change a person’s life, causing him or her to experience quite a significant character change. No matter what or whom s/he loves, it can miraculously bring him or her to come to understand what life really is. This is perhaps a moral value of “Compassion”—the story written by Syed Abdul Malik.

As exposed in the story, when retired, Captain Vivekananda lives only with her daughter Savita who is always busy with her books and magazines. It seems he needs more people to share his past times—his bad experiences during the war. However, only few people can serve as a good listener to his hard times when, lack of love for human beings, he killed  251 enemy soldiers in the war—including a young girl who has given him a pail of water. He was a person of war who should abandon humanity and love for his enemies. “…I have no other way but to kill. If I do not, he would shoot me…Whoever shoots first is saved.” (p. 34). Perhaps he wants to be understood that in the war one should love himself and save his life at any cost.

Miraculously, Captain Viveka finds out another kind of love, i.e. love for the puppies. I think it is a miracle because, before then, he hates dogs, tune of a harmonium, and a red cloth (pp. 34-35). It is a miraculous power that leads him to love those puppies. He personally bathes, feeds, takes them out, puts them to sleep and wakes them up in the morning. He does nothing at home but looks after them—till one day Savita says that he is busy only with the puppies. He has no time even to talk to her (p. 35).

Captain Viveka’s love for the puppies is so deep that he is very sad when they die of the chilling weather. He comes to realize how tragic their death is. He might not feel anything when he killed 251 enemy soldiers in the war, because he did not love them—he just loved himself and “had no time to see what death really is.” (p. 36).  Now, when the puppies he loves very much die, he can feel every single jerk of death… And he comes to realize the same phases of death experienced by the puppies and the German youth he bayoneted in the war. “The puppy’s eyes and those of the German youth I bayoneted to death seem exactly the same to me today…” (p. 36).

In short, Viveka’s love for the puppies, particularly their deaths,  has made him realize about the meaning of love for human beings—and the meaning of life in general. At least, he probably feels guilty of having killed the 251 enemy soldiers.

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