Unseen Tomorrow

— Sumit paul


Whether Delphi's Oracle, Cassandra's blood-curdling predictions or the fabled futuristic insights into Tulsidas' Ramcharitmanas, mankind has always been curious to know in advance what's going to happen tomorrow and in future. However rationalist or wise a person may be, the lure to know things in advance is so overwhelming that one cannot resist oneself.

Carl Gustav Jung observed quite brilliantly, “In the entire history of mankind, show me a single person who has cold-shouldered an astrologer and hasn't shown his / her palm to a sooth-sayer.” No one. No one, I'm sure. It's a spontaneous reaction to ask an astrologer about one's future. And if we delve into this universal tendency, we'll realise that all esoteric phenomena and spiritual balderdash have in their roots a subtle anxiety about the uncertainties of tomorrow.

But, isn't it a bliss if we remain ignorant of future? The lamb, that so innocently licks the hand of a butcher, is blissfully ignorant that this very man will soon slaughter him. Had it been aware that it was licking the hand of its tormentor, I don't think it would ever have shown so much love towards the butcher. The foreknowledge of future takes away the thrill of tomorrow. Alexander Pope wrote, " Heaven, from all creatures, hides the book of fate/ All but the page prescribed their present state."

Laotse was dying. His friend came to him and said that there was a seer in the village and he came just for him (Laotse) to tell as to where would he go once he departs. Laotse laughed and said, " When just hours are left, I'm not bothered what's going to befall me once I'm no more. Please say thanks to the seer and give him half bowl of soup, that you've prepared for me." It's to be noted that In South East Asian culture, offering someone half bowl of soup is considered insulting. But how many of us can have Laotse's disdain for all those who claim to predict future? Don't we all, including yours truly, succumb to knowing our future? That's the reason, an entire industry of sooth-saying has come up all over the world with a number of so-called divinations like tarrot card, angel therapy, shadow-study, horoscope-reading, coffee residual predictions and all that jazz.

On my frequent visits to the western world, I've met innumerable psychic healers, claiming to invoke spirits. They call India a country steeped in superstitions and shenanigans but the west is equally, nay even more, immersed in all such spurious things and irrational practices. But then, human spirit is universally same. Stupidity's not just the prerogative of the Indians, the entire mankind is committed to it.

Man perpetually at a critical juncture is obsessed with his future. Man indeed is always on the precipice, fearing to fall any moment into an abyss of incertitude. It's the incertitude of today that prompts us all to shelter into a 'certain' tomorrow. We don't exactly peep into the future to know what (bad) is going to happen to us tomorrow. We try to know whether something BETTER is still in store for us. It's ironically interesting that despite weighed down by a battalion of despairs, man has the lurking hope that there's still something good to take place in his life.

The entire caboodle of sooth-saying is based on this futuristic feel-good feeling. Astrologers console us that all is still not lost and there's the sun of hope in the clouds of depression. To quote an English poet, 'Be still sad heart and cease repining. Behind the clouds is the sun still shining.' Yet all said and done, 'Kya karoge kal ke baare mein jaankar/Maza toh tab hai jab kuchh bhi tay na ho ' (What will you do to know about (your) tomorrow? The real thrill of life lies in being indefinite). So don't spoil your today for an unseen tomorrow. Remember the Arabic proverb, 'God offers you today, not tomorrow.'

About the Author
Aju Mukhopadhyay, a bilingual award winning poet, author and critic, writes fictions and essays too. He has authored 32 books and received several poetry awards from India and USA besides other honours. Recently he has received Albert Camus Centenary Writing Award, 2013 from Canada / Cyprus.

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