Musings,  People

The man with the pause has finally paused

If there is anything I will remember Atal Bihari Vajpayee for, it will be for his fantastic oratory. He would leave everyone spell-bound with his poetic choice of words. Equally memorable was his style of using the pregnant pause. He waited patiently till the meaning of his words sank in. Blessed with a great voice and a deep understanding of the Hindi language, he kept you enraptured with his amazing choice of phrases. Not many in the political firmament today, with perhaps the exception of Sushma Swaraj, have such a command over Hindi that he did.

Yes, he was every mimicry artiste’s favourite choice, as his style of closing his eyes, stretching his arm and twisting his fingers was something everyone wanted to copy. As he grew older, the pauses grew longer and he came in for criticism. But you couldn’t detest the man. Years in the political arena had not sapped the man of his sensitivity or his humanity. Whether he was in the government or in the Opposition, he knew how to reach out to others.

He was a giant. Yet as he says in his own poem “Oonchai”, his feet were always firmly grounded on terra firma.

धरती को बौनों की नहीं,
ऊँचे कद के इन्सानों की जरूरत है।
इतने ऊँचे कि आसमान छू लें,
नये नक्षत्रों में प्रतिभा की बीज बो लें,
किन्तु इतने ऊँचे भी नहीं,
कि पाँव तले दूब ही न जमे,
कोई कांटा न चुभे,
कोई कलि न खिले।

न वसंत हो, न पतझड़,
हों सिर्फ ऊँचाई का अंधड़,
मात्र अकेलापन का सन्नाटा।

मेरे प्रभु!
मुझे इतनी ऊँचाई कभी मत देना,
गैरों को गले न लगा सकूँ,
इतनी रुखाई कभी मत देना।

– अटल बिहारी वाजपेयी

This is something the politicians of today have to learn in good measure. In his going away India has lost one of the last statesmen who commanded respect from everyone across the political spectrum. The man with the pause has finally paused.

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