Interaction involves a whole gamut of relationships among people, between two or more, in fact all living things, or between living and nonliving things, and perhaps even among non-living things. The need for interaction, I believe, is universal, for the more one interacts the more alive one feels, and the less one interacts the less one lives. Through INTERACTIONS I hope to interact with anyone on any issue in my modest way, to keep the flame of life burning at least in my own self.
As will be obvious from a reading, this poem
was written many years before the arrival of the now famous lyric, All Izz Well, from the Hindi film 3 Idiots. Rancho, the hero of the film,
tells us that he learnt this expression
from the chowkidar in his locality. This coincidence, that the same words are
spoken by a chowkidar in the film and my poem separated in time and place,
seemed interesting to me. This made me bring this poem of mine out on my blog,
and also delve a little bit into the history of this expression.
To me the expression immediately brings up
the memory of Shakespeare’s play All’s
Well That Ends Well (1601). From the Internet one would find out that the
expression is not original to Shakespeare and he seemed to have borrowed it
from John Heywood (16th century English playwright, poet and
collector of proverbs) who used it in 1546 in a play, and this expression was already
in use as a proverb in the English language.
However the proverb All’s Well That Ends Well has a very different connotation and meaning from its clipped version All’s Well, whose Hindi versions, Sab thik hai/sab kuchch thik thak hai, people in the Hindi-speaking world are familiar with.
The proverb in itself and also in
Shakespeare’s play implies that ‘arisky
enterprise is justified so long as it turns out well in the end’. But, of course, this is being wise after the
enterprise has ended happily. It could well have ended in a disaster, in which case
we would need some other proverb, something like: Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
After Shakespeare, the English Victorian poet Robert Browning
came to my mind for I thought he had
used the clipped version of the
expression, but when I checked I
found that he had indeed used it but with a slight change. The following lines
from Robert Browning’s dramatic lyric Pippa
Passes (1841) are very famous
The year's at
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearl'd;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven— All's
right with the world!
replaced ‘well’ with ‘right’.
These lines, expressing a mood of facile optimism
(portraying a peaceful world over-seen
by a benign God), might have set the tone for so many subsequent uses of
the expression All’s Well. I can’t think of any but one example, among many, I can pick up from the Internet is a Christmas EP disc All Is
Well (2006) by a famous American
singer Clay Aiken (an American Idol icon, one can listen him on YouTube)
which contains four songs all
expressing the conventional Christian idea of redemption (regaining the
paradise that was lost by Adam and Eve
through the sin of disobedience) through the sacrifice of Jesus. The four songs
in the Aiken EP sing of the birth of Jesus and
the promise of redemption, Isaiah’s prophecy in the Old Testament about Emmanuel’s
arrival, the arrival of Santa with his Christmas gifts, a hope for an end to all strife and wars, and
a prayer for peace in the world. The essence of the message is that ‘all is well’
because of the coming of Jesus, of his sacrifice and compassion. It is an
assertion of faith in the sacrifice of Jesus. Here are the opening lines of the
song titled: All Is Well:
All is well
all is well
Into the dawn
of love's light
All is well
all is well
Let there be
peace on earth
come go and tell
That He is in
What about the lyric in 3 idiots ? All Izz
Well was the watchword that Rancho’s chowkidar used to make the residents feel that everything
was fine and they could sleep peacefully without any fears. The truth was that
the locality was hit by thefts, giving the lie to the chowkidar’s assurance. The watchword gave the residents a
false sense of security and resulted in a loss of faith in the chowkidar. The
chowkidar, unlike Jesus, turned out to be a false messiah. However, in the film
the expression All Izz Well becomes a magic mantra which, when chanted or sung, rescues one out of any crisis.
The message in all this is perhaps that never
mind the difficulties in life, everything works out well in the end if one has
faith in oneself and God, or something like this. What a soul comforting thought!
In my poem, the focus is on the Chowkidar’s
own life. And the expression takes on an altogether different meaning. The
Chowkidar’s reply, ‘Sir, all’s well’ to the speaker’s question is evasive, to
say the least. He is able to see the hypocrisy behind the speaker’s superficial
interest in his well-being, So he hides his own misery behind what has become a stock expression.
It would be
interesting to see the viewers' reactions to my poem and also suggest other ramifications of the expression All’s Well.