The below post is a translation of a blog post by veteran actor, Mohanlal. The link to the original blog post in Malayalam, is posted at the bottom of this page.
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'God’s Letter' by Mohanlal
One of my friends recommended that I read a book by Paul Kalanithi - a book named “When breath becomes air”.
Paul Kalanithi, an Indian by origin, was a famous neurosurgeon in America. He studied literature, philosophy and specialized in neurosurgery, all at the same time. He had been diagnosed with cancer of the respiratory tract. The above book, about life, was written by him when he realized that he had but a very short time left in this beautiful universe.
This book, which has a lot of thought provoking insights on how one can live one’s life to the optimum, is indeed a heart wrenching read.
Paul Kalanithi passed away last March. He was 37 years old.
It was when I read this book that I became very acutely conscious of human mortality and the value of time. Realization dawned that God has given us very little time on Earth to accomplish what we need to. This reality, once the penny drops, brings with it a feeling of deep sadness and humility.
As I normally do under such circumstances, I wrote a letter to God. As usual, I got a prompt response. I am presenting below, the response I received from God.
I received your letter. Since I am not as busy as you are, I decided to send you a prompt reply.
This time, you wrote to me, having read a book by someone who had death staring him in the face. There’s nothing wrong with that. One thinks of other human beings and God only when one faces death or when one contemplates the reality of death. I have no complaints about that because is it not me who knows your behavior better than anyone else ??
This time around, your concerns and misgivings are about the limited time that I have granted you on this planet. Quite a bit of your concerns are right but most of them are wrong. As per my plan, the average time span I’ve allocated for you to spend on Earth is about 70-80 years. Some people return early but those are rare instances. Why that is so, I shall elaborate upon later.
Every human being is granted just 24 hours in a day. No one gets even a second extra. How those 24 hours are utilized by each one of you is not the same, they are different. How many humans on Earth are aware of the fact that each one of you is like a timepiece which can stop at any time or that each one of you is a candle that be extinguished at any time? How many of you use this time span that I have allotted each one of you uniformly, in pursuit of good deeds?
People are opinionated, busy criticizing each other, interfering in other people’s lives, fighting among themselves on the basis of caste, creed, race, religion, color, nationality – all of which are self-created. People are busy suing each other, exposing others’ faults / shortcomings, bringing to light others’ skeletons hidden deep in their closets and wasting their lives in jail. How much time do human beings spend on such frivolous, unwanted, unproductive thoughts?
The first time we met each other was in a train compartment, a train being pulled by a steam engine. I still travel in trains pulled by steam engines but at least in Kerala I know that you, Lalu, cannot do that anymore. You should have thought about that before becoming a film star. Recently, I took a long ride through your country, on a train drawn by a steam engine. During that journey which felt never ending, not one person even bothered to come over and talk to me. Everybody was just busy with their cell phones, staring at the screens and tapping away at the keyboards. When I asked someone what he was doing, he brushed me off saying he was ‘busy on Whatsapp and Facebook’. I am sure you use these apps too.
In the past, on long train journeys, we used to see people sitting and reading books, chatting with each other, sharing jokes, interacting with each other. Nowadays, everybody just stares at/interacts with their phones on Whatsapp / Facebook etc. ‘What’s so special about Whatsapp and Facebook’? I asked the youngster. He puffed his chest in pride and said ‘On this, you can write or say anything about anybody, nobody can stop you. You can start movements / revolutions.’ When I asked him why he needed to start movements and revolutions, he smiled and replied ‘If anybody says anything against our God, our religion or about our political affiliation, we can use this medium to respond. Just one post and there will be plenty of people to fight, to abuse and make life miserable for the targeted individuals / groups’. Having said this, he turned his attention back to his phone.
Having spent much of your time abusing others and getting into fights on social media, is it fair then that when your time comes, you complain to me that you did not have enough time in this world?
There’s one more matter. Humans spend a lot of time on me, praising me, building places of worship that are hot and which suffocate me. Humans fight with anyone and everyone who has anything bad to say about me and kill people in my name. Humans use different names for me, they form associations in my name and collect funds. Is this humankind’s idea of spending time in my name? The way humans behave, one gets the feeling that God cannot survive without humankind. Who has bestowed humans with the power to determine and conclude that God will cease to exist, as a result of the actions and words of some among them? This is something I don’t understand. One thing I’m sure of is that I have not handed down that responsibility to anyone.
People see their own reflection in me. They tend to perceive me as an entity that loses its temper when there is a difference of opinion, an entity that lacks a sense of humor, an entity that is portrayed as an egotistic idiot. Humans then fight over all this?! Imagine the amount of time that is wasted on such vain thoughts and actions!! Am I responsible for these?!
To help you understand better, I will list out a few names. Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, M.T.Vasudevan Nair, Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Amartya Sen, Mammooty, Yesudas, Lata Mangeshkar, Maradona, Sachin Tendulkar, Ilayaraja, A.R.Rahman and many more. I gave all these people too, just twenty four hours in a day. I gave the same amount of time too, to thieves, robbers, murderers whiling away their time now in jail. It is not a question of how much time I grant people. What is more important is how they use and utilize that time so given.
People who have accomplished big things in life are the people who have been conscious of time. These are the people who, without wasting a moment, made the best use of time and accomplished great things, did good deeds and scaled great heights. Like I said before, people who are not conscious of time waste their lives and at the end of it all, complain that they were not given enough time on this planet.
Dear Lalu, life is nothing but an enchanting illusion – a vision you see when you are sitting, enjoying the shade of a majestic tree. Understanding that is the greatest essence of life. Only then will one understand how priceless and invaluable it is. Once you realize this, you will not waste your time on trivial pursuits. You will be determined to ensure that your actions serve a better purpose. Thus, every moment will result in contentment.
Just understand this in living your life. Nobody has any right to physically or psychologically trouble others. Please tell people not to get involved in matters related to my well being.
Even if you tell someone not too smart that I, who am responsible for the entire Universe, cannot even take care of my own issues, you will be laughed at. So, leave me alone, stop hateful thoughts and focus on making your life worthwhile and good.
There are some other matters but I will mention those some other time.
The words at the end of the letter were smudged. I am sure they were smudged because of the tears he shed. Why he was crying, I do not know. I’m afraid I cannot guess. Were they tears of sorrow, or rage, I know not. I can’t guess that either.
Translation credit : Venkitaraman Krishnan
The original blog post in Malayalam can be found here.
(The above blog post has been translated with the best of intentions. Our sincere apologies for any error of omission or commission in the process of translation.)