The Venus Flytrap: Human Circuitry


At the same time that I was asleep and dreaming of a long drive along dirt roads looking for a temple, wondering why we could not just stop and worship at one of the many snake-hills we passed along the way, across the world, she was saying a prayer for me at the shrine of Marie Laveau, Voudou high priestess of New Orleans. A year later, someone else travels to Portugal, and does the same for me at the Jerónimos Monastery in Belem. Again, it is unasked for, unexpected, but welcome.

There are those who fill us at every moment that to think of them is only as natural as prayer. For some of my friends and I, what this usually means is to pray. But even those who don’t pray, invoke. Each time I find myself alone with a decanter I think of all those who should share it with me, and raise a toast. I have become a collector of objects that catch the eye only because they are weighted by their associations.

All nostalgics are masochists; we subject ourselves to the tyranny of memory and history and insist on the accompaniment of ghosts. Sometimes it is beautiful, as when across the breadth of the world, one connects and connects and lights up a web of human circuitry, each point of connection a live wire, always active.

As I was writing this column, a friend asked why I equated prayer with pervasive memory, because prayer is expectation. I realised that this is not how I pray, at least not most of the time. I ask, of course, but mostly what I do is receive. Not in the sense of getting what I hoped to, but in the sense of being constantly plugged in, engaged with the world, connecting. I am blessed with an incredibly rich life only because I am willing to receive it. My relationships are rewarding beyond measure. The only distances that matter are the ones we choose to place between ourselves.

I regularly experience synchronicity, and I think that this is because it is almost as though, from our respective locations, my dearest ones and I are tuned in to the same radio frequency. Someone will tell me she’s trying to find an image online to send me of what she wants to get tattooed: that same image will be on the tee shirt I wear at that very moment. I will send a text message and get a call back instantly – “You won’t believe it but it’s freezing and I am wearing a balaclava and six layers, but I suddenly had to speak to you, and just as I stood up to step out and call, there was your text.” But I do believe it. We could have gone months without contact. It doesn’t matter, it never does, because somewhere, on some profound level, we were connected.

And this is why, when I meet someone who refuses a connection, who reduces it to its most functional or profane terms, I am saddened. If we think again of prayer as a point of connection, as I do, then just as in my dream of snake-hills, some of us are looking for a place to pray, when everything around us is already a prayer in itself.

An edited version appeared in The New Indian Express. “The Venus Flytrap” is my column in the Zeitgeist supplement. Previous columns can be found here.

8 responses »

  1. Beautifully written.The lines”And this is why, when I meet someone who refuses a connection, who reduces it to its most functional or profane terms, I am saddened.”convey profound meaning.

  2. I am confused. So, are you saying facebook is bad?

    And does this make you want to punch me?

  3. What you call prayer is what I call being me, being anthropomorphic, biped with an oversized fusiform gyrus prone to synesthesia.

    I am as connected as you are, but the ones I want to influence or talk to are busy trying to talk to someone else.

  4. Hi,
    we are going to launch a magazine for college students, will you be interested in writing some column for us.
    Happy Writing!

  5. Jayanthi – Thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    Barath – Facebook… Sigh.

    Ravages – No, I don’t think that what I call prayer is what you call that. I do know, however, that if you can’t connect, it’s because the other person doesn’t want to, for whatever reason. I also know that sometimes it’s their loss, even if it feels like it’s yours.

    Pooja – Please email me.

  6. You got me thinking there. I can relate to what you are saying and I always have had such surreal experiences with my wife of 13 years. It could be on simple things like a witty comment about something that is going on TV at that moment… She would say exactly what was running in my mind!

    Great post, keep them coming.

  7. I love this post, for the eerieness it brings to me today,

    but I also understand the refusal part, dunno, sometimes there is a conflict between how much and how many, and the answer is rarely easy

  8. Giri – Thanks! Please keep dropping by!

    Madhuri – True. It gets complicated. For instance, if a person deludes themselves into believing there is a connection when there isn’t really – can the other be blamed for refusing it? The other extreme is when a connection is so intense that one or both runs. These things can be deeply disconcerting – it takes a willingness to be vulnerable to be able to stand it.

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