About Ships & Harbours

Ministhy Dileep | July 26,2010 03:55 pm IST

"That poor girl trudging through the dust, dreaming of an education for her children, do we think that we are better than she is - we, stuffed full of food, our cup-boards full of clothes, stifling in our superfluities? I think it is that girl and the women who were  talking about books and an education when they had not eaten for three days, that may yet define us."


These are the words of Doris Lessing, from her 2007 Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

She was speaking about a pregnant young African woman, with two kids hanging onto her dress, out to get a refill of water at a store, and eagerly reading a torn page from Anna Karenina lying there about.


Just a few days back, I chanced to read an article about Saudi women finding a role model in Oprah Winfrey! Stifled by a society that prevents them from developing their potential or engage in hobbies, they are apparently embracing the TV show of Oprah, where she empowers everyone with her empathy and positive thinking.


Now what could be the possible connection between the news about Doris Lessing's speech and Oprah Winfrey's Show? Just that both these instances reveal a lot about unfulfilled aspirations. If the young African woman is held back by poverty and a lack of opportunity to realise her inherent potential, it is a custom-bound society that makes the rich and affluent Saudi women stay home-bound and bored - dreaming of the outside sky.


Both are yearning for opportunities - not to party or revel, but to breathe out the fresh air of a new world of achievement and learning. Ships that were designed to triumph on the oceans held forcibly back in the harbours, rusting away in frustration.


Forget that situation where potential is forcibly prevented from being fulfilled! Let us focus on ourselves for a moment, aren't a lot of us in self-cocooned harbours of our inner fears and limitations? Madly aping the herd behavior and trying to fill our lives with trivialities, how many of us appreciate the wonderful sea of opportunities that is awaiting our spirited sails?


But the adventure is not that easy. The joy of stretching the mental and physical muscles will come at a price. But for those who are willing to endure the discomfort of unknown shores and unpredictable weather, true success awaits.


"Jaise til mein tel hai, jyon chakmak mein aag,
Tere sayeen tujh mein, jag sake to jag,"
- Sant Kabir


Kabir says that it takes energy to extract the oil from the sesame seed and vigorous work to get a spark from the flint stone; in a similar way, if we can reach out and tap into our inner self, our true greatness will blossom!
Thus, we have come a full circle, from Doris Lessing, Oprah Winfrey to Sant Kabir. The message remains the same: Set sail, fear not, the oceans beckon with their glory!  



Ministhy S. is PG (PM&IR) from XLRI-Jamshedpur, and currently, an IAS officer working in the UP cadre. She has written five books - 'Unequal Equations', 'Learning with Tippy Tortoise: Tales for Kids', 'Happy Birthday: Poems for Kids' and a novel published by Dronequill Publishers, Bangalore....