Friday, December 27, 2013

Tooth fairies, fantasy and dasavatharam

I know I haven't been writing for a while. Blame it on a super hectic month followed by an India trip followed by an even more hectic month and then the holiday season. Anyway, I wrote this post before leaving for India, but couldn't get around to putting it up. So here it is.. Also, hope to write about the India trip soon.. We'll see when I get around to doing that..

I read this post on Hallucinations about a conversation between 2 six year olds about tooth fairies- one girl knows they do not exist and the other doesn't. It made me wonder what I really thought about fairies and stuff when I was a kid. Very early in life, my mom told me Santa Claus was just someone I know dressed up with a fake beard. And my dad told me that the people you watch on TV are just acting (that was because I would get way too depressed seeing characters die or get hurt on TV!). I remember reading way too much Enid Blyton (I think I read everything from the Red story book to the Book of pixies) and trying to imagine that my toys could talk at night. It was fun to imagine, but even then I knew it wasn't true.

The fantastic things I truly believed in then were quite mundane. Like the fact that there is a supernatural power watching your every move and waiting to restore the balance in the world. Or that good begets good. That if you keep hoping, everything will turn out alright. They are nice to believe in as a kid. Sometimes, even as an adult. It is nice to do your part and assume that "there is somebody who made you and cares for you, and who will help you if you do the best of what you can".
But as I grew older, I decided that these ideas were as fantastic as the idea that tooth fairies exist. That the reason to do the right thing is not because you will be rewarded in the end, but because the doing is itself the reward.
Funnily though, I admit that the made up sentences(or ideas) work. Telling yourself not to give up because all that hard work has gotta pay back does give you enough confidence to last the last mile. (You see what I did there? :P) When you have been back-stabbed or are generally cynical, telling yourself that good begets good motivates you to go on doing good. So you see, even though I think these sentences are made up, I use them all the time. 

Then, the truly amazing thing about all this is not the fact that I realized as I grew up that these ideas are made up, but how these conflicting ideas can co-exist in my head (and in the head of the kid about whom that author was writing). I can drown hours in imagination, I can tell myself confidently that it will all work out in the end. And yet I know these are just sentences I am making up. (To some people, this might smell of hypocrisy. But maybe I will write about my justification for it some other time).Anyway, that reminds me of the Tamil movie Dasavatharam. There is this conversation in the end which beautifully sums up all I have to say about the co-existence of rationality and fantasy.

The translation goes this way-
Asin: Why do you say there is no God?
Kamal: I am not saying that God does not exist. I am just saying it would be wonderful if he did.


  1. Am not surprised that you are writing about something that I have always wanted to write! ;) And I actually have a reply to this. We will talk about this sometime when we talk over fone! :)

  2. Am not surprised that you are writing about something that I have always wanted to write! ;) And I actually have a reply to this. We will talk about this sometime when we talk over fone! :)


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