If asked, as a physician that I am, to define ‘feet’, I would have had to come up with something like “the lower extremity of the vertebrate leg that is in direct contact with the ground in standing or walking.” And if tailoring had been my profession, which it is not, my reply would have run something like “a unit of length in the U.S. Customary and British Imperial systems which is equal to 12 inches (30.48 centimetres).” But what if I were a combination, of sorts, of the two in a literary sense, let’s say a “doctor of humour (literature)” asked to create a tailor made trappings on the subject of ‘feet’ ? How should my elaboration of the theme have shaped up on full stitching? Let’s take a look at it from the feet up!
The ‘feet’, being the grounding component they are in the human life & body, can have a certain pivotal proclivity all of their own to lending themselves to plural connotations when it comes to an aspiring ‘philosophical humourist’ (like myself) attempting to use them as a theme to gain a foothold in the world of the published word. And when the window of opportunity is truly small, it makes sense to think on one’s feet while putting one’s best foot forward to get one’s foot in the door. Instead of sitting at the feet of powers that be (read: the editor) – a practice no self-respecting man of letters, on either side of the footwear, enjoys these days – it pays much better to get off on the right foot by accepting the literary challenge, without so much as letting the grass grow under one’s feet, lest one may be considered to have feet of clay or worse still, two left feet!
The anecdotal value of feet, so replete in our literature, can be a good starting point. Feet worship, the age-old popular tenet of Hindu way of life which finds a prominent mention in the Ramayan – with Bharat according the pride of place to Sri Ram’s padukas (footwear) on Ayodha’s empty throne during latter’s vanavaas and Sri Ram himself effecting Ahilya’s redemption with a touch of his divine feet – are a case in point so familiar to many of us. And then there is Kamal Amrohi’s extolling of Pakeezah Meena Kumari’s feet in thespian Raj Kumar’s immortal words: “Aapke paaon dekhey. Bahut haseen hain. Inhe zammen par mat utaariyega. Maile ho jaenge!” (Happened to espy your gorgeous feet. Beseech you refrain from grounding them lest they be soiled!). Poignant examples of the human heart itself being the seat of the feet for the pious and the paramour!
Another truly remarkable example of an interesting play on deciding the seat of the feet comes to my mind as memories of a fun game of musical feet that I used to observe Brahmarishi Subhash Patri ji, an eloquent scientist-turned-spiritual-master from Andhra Pradesh and one of my lead mentors on my path to self-remembering way back in 2002, play with his newly acquainted followers.
It was, and I believe still is, literally impossible for a follower to touch his feet, attempting the feat after being immensely impressed by his very fluent & witty discourses on meditation (invariably started with a “You are God also, albeit Gods in amnesia and thus in need of self-remembering” exhortation that’s a modern day recapitulation of ‘Aham Brahmasmi, Tat Twam Asi’ ) without getting their own two feet touched back by him purposely grinning like a comic buffoon. The flustered beneficiaries of his ‘feet touching back‘ would almost invariably conclude that they had perhaps erred in not doing their feet touching fervently enough and would go for a re-doing, often to the point of prostrate kowtowing, only to find Patri ji respond back in the kind yet again. This will continue for a few rounds, with older followers like me watching the familiar rib tickling drama from the sidelines, until the newbie follower would give up in exasperation. However, not before Patri ji would burst out giggling to alleviate their misery with a kind & gentle: “But you haven’t been paying attention to my ‘You are God also’! Now why would God need to touch God’s feet? Let’s make use of a hug, handshake, hello or namaste as per your preference.” This never failed to find him a permanent seat in the hearts of all his enthralled ‘fans’ – yes that’s what he preferred to call his followers/devotees!
Now having succeeded with this ‘pedi-gogical route to pedagogy’ approach for getting the first weekly piece published in my column (Laughter Medicine – the fun & frolic way to wit-n-wisdom), do I get asked how it feels to stand on my own two feet after a display of flagrant feet-fetish? Well, just getting my feet wet, shall we say!
Must rest my case as a pair of feet that belong to a thinking head before it gets to a position tantamount to putting my foot in my own mouth.
Sweep anyone off their feet? Good. I can really put my feet up now!
(The foregoing article, submitted for publication in a leading English daily, became an example of feet dragging by the Editor as he developed cold feet & resorted to complete reticence after first declaring it a good, print worthy piece. As you can see, the loss hasn’t been mine. If anything, it galvanized me into implementing my decision of starting my own blog to self publish my works. With this, I can now truly claim to be standing on my own feet with all the editorial freedom to boot! Hope to have a greater number of foot-falls here than if it had been showcased elsewhere! You can contribute to the cause of freedom of writing by making it happen through your ‘likes’ & ‘recommends’ to all your fun-loving friends who can think on their feet fast enough to transform it into a ‘viral hit from a fun-doctor’!)
He is so funny, even his feet reek of laughter!