While looking out of my French Window in the City of London, it occurred to me that the struggle to make it in life has become so intense that this part of my whole has engulfed me with a strength that cannot be easily captured in images. But then I turn around and realise. However, the view outside made me see nothing but buildings, roads, and people on roads going towards buildings again. It was a jungle for me and for anyone struggling to carve a road ahead. The concrete jungle is all but a reality now not only in its physicality but also in its emotional, mental, and existential occurrence. Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Jungle Book’ in 1894 has been an interesting piece of work for me. But it resonates deeper now when I am in my 40s and realise, I am free to interpret the title and characters according to my whims and fancies in my life’s reality. Now I understand that I am not the only one in this muddle. There are so many of you standing in this line with me. Sometimes you may not even be realising yourself, but I find myself in the same race with most of you. I may sound narcissist to many; it may sound false to quite a few but the truth is, the levels may differ, the intensity may vary, but the core remains the same. We are all searching for that piece of peace that seems to erode with the harsh winds of human fatigue and rationality. For me, and for most of us, the Jungle Book is a story that follows the journey of a wild child named Mowgli. A pack of wolves found him as a baby and was raised among them. However, he had his struggles to fit in and survive. The story follows how he was raised among wolves and survived through it all without any human connection. However, I am not here to find a perspective and take on white colonialism or characters representing the involved symbolism. What I want to concentrate on is my journey or anybody else’s as well, who is sailing in a similar boat. This life around all of us and outside our vision is a Story like Rudyard Kipling’s above mentioned Jungle Book, where like its main character, we too are that wild child, who is left alone to fare for his survival. In this life, we find our journey, our story, our jungle book!
Every morning when we wake up, you and I find ourselves in a forest of ambiguity. We try to clear our morning blur because for some it is just a puddle, for others, it is a marshy land. For few, it is a bridge to cross over, but for most, it is a journey across wonderland far and wide; crossing through deep rivers, dragging over deserts with their parched throats. All of us are in a desperate search of a mere glass of cold water to smoothen out our parched souls. As we grow in life, we move ahead on the paths that we have dug for ourselves and with age comes the understanding that in dreams begins our responsibilities! But the Mowgli in all of us is still that frightened little boy who is trying to make it every single day by keeping a brave face. Every day brings a new hurdle and by the end of each evening, he finds a solution to overcome that. He must survive because that is what he was made to learn. His pack taught him what needs to be done. But they have not held his hand and drilled in him how to reach the finish line. Just like Mowgli, all of us are afraid to cross over. The end of the tunnel is dark. None of us knows what dangers lie ahead. There may be many ‘Sher Khan(s)’ along the way, with accompanying conniving hyenas, to lure us to our tragic end. But if we will ponder more, we will never be able to take that leap of faith. There is always that hope that on the brighter side we may along the way, meet a couple of Bagheera(s). These will be our guides to bring us out of our troubles and may pull us by our neck to carry us safely across the barbed wires. The Baloo, Sher Khan, Kaa, King Louie and even the Hyenas inside each one of us need to agree with what the Mowgli said in Kipling’s story; ‘we be of one blood, ye and I’, The moment we realise that we come from one and shall go back to one, we might be able to cut through the thorns of this jungle safely. We can dream to roam free when our actions will speak louder than our words. A little push there, a subtle pull in several positive directions, is enough to emotionally gratify and physically satisfy our individual Mowgli(s) within.
The story of Rudyard Kipling may have a different focus while bringing Jungle Book to life; still, we as individuals can write our own stories. We may make errors along the way but if we are ready to be an editor for each other and proofread the written content in our lives, our Jungle Book will also have a happy ending. We are sure to gain the same freedom and respect that Mowgli felt in his craving to roam about freely, with a sense of belonging to the roots known to him. The concrete jungle outside our homes, visible through our windows is equal in enormity with the jungle within us. We need to get past our racial, religious, gender, social and economic differences to bridge the divide that is our own doing. The differences that we have created for our own and the gap that is wide enough for ourselves to stumble and fall in this never-ending pit. It needs to be pushed close with a consistent effort. We desperately need to recognise the entryway but even more, what is needed is to hold each other’s hands to take us through the dark forest to see that light at the exit. Our story – your and my Jungle book needs to reach its end as well. Our Mowgli(s) need to meet each other and live in this magnificent Jungle of our own making in harmony. We can bring out the Rudyard Kipling in each of us to write many more such wonderfully wild tales!