I do not follow the news. About current affairs, my ignorance borders on the criminal/moronic. This, of course, has spelt trouble or very near it more than once. A disastrous interview at a higher education institute comes to the mind, for instance, where, when asked what are my opinions about the important political transition my state was facing, I had to admit that I had no opinion, being very uninterested in politics. The silence that followed told me, before the official declaration of results, that I would not be studying there.
There is a simple reason, however, behind my deliberate avoidance of the news. The news seems to be all bad. Every headline yells that the world is going to hell, one sure step at a time, and what’s the point of learning to what new lows people can stoop, is my feeble argument when I am reproached for being so foolish. It is a feeble argument, I suppose, somewhat like burying my head in the sand. To try and improve matters, both in the way of being slightly better informed and to feel slightly less hopeless, I am considering scanning at least one newspaper everyday, with a very definite purpose: to find at least one really good/ encouraging/ hopeful/ heartwarming news. And preferably keep a record of them.
Just last week, a friend asked for a happy story. I too, would very much want to read (and write) happy stories. Stories, of course, do not necessarily mean “fiction”. The articles in news media are also “stories”. I shall hunt and hope and hold on to happy stories in all senses of the term, then, and surely that would be an even better reason for reading the paper than preparing for interviews.
As an introduction to that project (The Happy Story Project?) and a conclusion to this week’s post, here’s a piece of niceness, not fiction but very real, unlikely ever to make it to any news medium. Near where I live is a park. The gardener who tends to it lives in the park with his wife in a dwelling for which the term ‘shed’ is too grand. They are childless. They keep cats. I believe some cat landed on their doorstep and they never turned it away and she gave birth to a litter, so that their part of the park has been dotted with about a dozen cats for some time now. Even the other day, someone dumped four kittens on them, and they didn’t turn away a single one. What is that cliche about those with less being more generous?
Anyway, the gardener and I were discussing how sad it was that so many stray cats are killed by dogs, and among a list of cats he had known who had met the same end, he said he had buried one in the park. It was a nice gesture in itself, I thought. But what made this moderately nice gesture rather remarkable and memorable to me was his casual addition that he had then planted a tree on the spot where the cat was buried.
I suppose this is what I may call a sense of beauty.