If you scroll down a little, you can see a few pictures that were taken during my recent visit to Mahabalipuram, about 50 km from Chennai. As usual, a couple of the pictures show me -- in one of them, striking a pose at the shore temple, and in the other, smoking a cigarette. The idea for the latter was my wife's: you can see the setting sun almost touching the tip of the cigarette, as if I was lighting it from the fading ball of fire.
Some of the commentators, quite understandably, called me a narcissist. After all, I was posing. But they were fun poses. If I really wanted to keep looking at myself, I would have uploaded pictures of myself staring grimly at the sea in the backdrop of the setting sun. Perhaps with a cigarette touching my lips. I would have looked like an 'intellectual'. Or a 'thinker'. In fact, that's usual my pose in real life: even as I write this post, I am typing only with my left hand (I am a southpaw), while the right hand, which is holding a cigarette, is also supporting my forehead. And the forehead happens to be wrinkled because I am wondering what to write next.
Ok, I've thought of the next sentence, and that is: What's wrong in being in love with yourself? Everybody likes to take a look if a mirror happens to be at hand. People who don't do that are narcissists in other ways. Politicians, for example. They don't look into the mirror 15 times a day because they know what it will show: a rotund, old man. But they can't wait to see their pictures in the papers.
Why do women fall in love with men who possess qualities that they like? That's because they love themselves and want the men to cater to that self. Narcissism! Why does the average Indian man love to have a wife who could also double up as a maid? That's because he loves himself so much that he hates the idea of entering the kitchen. Narcissism! Why does a boss dislike certain people and like certain others? Narcissism!
End of the day, we are all looking at an invisible mirror and admiring ourselves. And why not? Because end of the day, we are nothing but ourselves. We all are alone in the journey assigned to us in this world, and there is no other faithful companion than our own mirror-image. The image never deserts us.
Everybody in India loves Amitabh Bachchan today, but who was with him when he slept hungry in Bombay's railway stations in the late 1960's? People love his success, not him. Even Jaya Bhaduri would have ignored him if he had not shown the signs of a promising actor. If someone truly loves him, that's his own self. And that's true for every living human being.
Ten years from now, I don't know what will become of me. I could be a successful writer, which I aspire to be; or a failure. In either case, when I sit down to take stock of my career then, I would find myself having a drinking with -- who else, but myself! Ok, the wife might be there. And maybe a couple of friends too. But my most trustworthy companion will be me.