Death is a great leveller. And with the death of the man who knew too much, in our locality, an era of enlightenment passed away. Enviably, the man, a septuagenarian who had a huge repertoire of knowledge, was a wonder to us. He had an uncanny knack for searching truths and was at his best with the gift of the gab when four of us, friends, used to meet him in the evening to kill time. He used to accost us and great truths tumbled down in the debate that followed.
The man would not shift from one subject unless and until we were convinced of its relevance. We never felt he buttonholed us, and we were not ready to pigeonhole him as a windbag. The more he talked to us, the wiser we became. He had an opinion on everything. His conversations typically began with questions. He would pick the right answer of truth, which got embedded in our psyche. The serious debate ultimately helped us shed our prejudices.
One day, he asked: ‘What is intelligence?’ One of us said it was ‘intelligent quotient’, to which he replied in the negative. ‘Intelligence constitutes three parts: grasping power, memory power, thinking power. Science demoralises people by degrading them on the basis of wrong perception of intelligence. Everyone is equal, except perhaps the mentally challenged.’ We quipped, ‘Then, what about a precocious child or a child prodigy?’ ‘In a very rare case, a child may develop mental precocity and because of this, the child will show exceptional talents. But such abnormal growth of intelligence at a very tender age, though wonderful, will become normal later,’ he remarked.
We were forced to think deeply. No child prodigy has really claimed to be outstanding in his/her later life. But, we frantically clung to our science-fed information and further tried to cross swords with him. ‘There are a lot of geniuses who made their mark in history, like Einstein, Thomas Edison and Isaac Newton. Are all these men more intelligent than the rest of the people?’ No, he said. ‘They are just like us. What mattered most was that they had a circumstantial chance to which they doggedly held on. Basically, the three parts are there in everyone. These three aspects are conditioned by external factors like acquisition of knowledge/information, circumstances and disposition of the person. These external factors (except a person’s mood) are all from outside, which make people different and outstanding.’
We pondered over the points and started to think on his line. The more we debated and argued with this man, the more we were enlightened, in an enviable way. Today, we are the stuff carved out of the thought process of a great man who left this abode to add colourful feathers to the cap of eternal truths.