It all boils down to what is it at your core that drives you.
You may have crossed famous rivers and climbed great mountains, and your light may be shining bright now, visible miles and miles away. Yet, if the core you burn is made of self-obsession and conceit, then your light is not the stuff of life.
I cannot call myself a fully legit fan of the Dragonball series, since I haven’t read or seen it in its entirety. I used to come home only for a few days every year, and I used to catch snatches of the story on the television, but that was enough to hook me. The earliest bits I remember is from the Saiyan Saga. Goku and Vegeta were introduced to me at the same time.
Then, of course, over the Frieza Saga and all that came after, it transformed. I remember how Vegeta changed, and how I doubted his transformation, expecting him to double-cross Earth any moment he found an opening. The masterfulness of the writers was in how they showed us how Vegeta himself was skeptical of his own transformation, how he struggled with the idea of embracing his former enemies (and indeed, victims) as friends. He kept telling himself that he is merely allying with them for the time-being, but the hero in him kept emerging, again and again. For Goku, the journey was more physical than spiritual – he was always a pure person driven by pure motivations. It is Vegeta who had to dig deep, break the bedrock of cruelty and pain, and find reserves of a deeper strength and a higher pride that made him who he becomes.
At school, my reserves of inspiration were charged by Goku, but even more than him, Piccolo. I could not find Goku’s absolute purity in myself, but I could find Piccolo’s tenacity, commitment and sacrifice. Perhaps my affinity to the green played a role as well. On the other hand, Goku was relevant to me because of his utter dedication to self-development, and his willingness to do what is right every single time, whatever the situation may be. Goku’s Spirit Bomb was not so much a physical feat as it was a spiritual one, because when he does it, he essentially identifies with all creation and becomes one with it. This made complete sense to me.
In the entire range of characters I know, there’s none who embodies the warrior spirit more than these two Saiyans. Even Batman is not first and foremost a warrior. But these two – Goku and Vegeta – they are fighters, pure and simple. In every sense of the word.
In a world where you are surrounded by fire, it does one much good to have such allies. Sense and logic fail at times. Values and ethics don’t serve, reason does not help, honour seems irrelevant, things like sympathy and humanity seem weak and tepid. The only thing that will keep you on your chosen path is just your stubbornness to keep going punching.
There’s absolutely no way you could justify it. It only means more pain, more suffering and more burn on your already bruised-up life. The only reason you keep snarling is that you cannot possibly stop. That way is the only way you know how to die.
By sheer happenstance, two greens have made their way to me since I’ve been with Amar, Akbar, Nameless and Anthony. I realized the full weight of their arrival after I properly noticed what they looked like.
How could I have missed it? It’s obvious.
True to story, Goku arrived first. It was a couple of days before Anne Frank’s birthday.
I had this sense that something was missing from the picture, there was a sense of incompleteness somewhere, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then it dawned on me. Kakarot was missing his foil. I had seen him there at the nursery, but I’d completely overlooked the situation. It had to be remedied immediately. Time was short. I had to go and get Vegeta.
On the day of a solar eclipse, no less. Only if it were something to do with the moon, it’d have been perfect.
The mere sight is enough to set the Royal Blue theme rolling in your head. The swirl of the leaves are like flames and the classic Saiyan hair-form rolled into one.
And neither of them was alone in their vessels. Goku had a little offshoot coming up on one side, and the merest beginning of another on the other. Vegeta had one young fellow hanging beside him. No prizes for guessing who that is.
One thing is for sure. There will be stiff times ahead. And we are going to need warriors.
Pride. What constitutes pride?
These two Saiyan cacti belong to a species named Haworthiopsis attenuata. Their home is the south-eastern tip of South Africa, – South Africa, India’s blood-sister in our long struggle against colonialism. And these are not the only South Africans I have been meeting with this week, either.
There’s this scene in a film, that I remember from time to time. It’s 23rd March, 1931, the day of Bhagat Singh’s hanging. The jailer comes to collect him at his cell. Bhagat is reading a book; he requests the jailer to give him a couple of minutes. “I’m reading about Lenin,” he says, “one revolutionary is meeting another.” Then he snaps the book shut, puts it down, and stands up to depart.
That line about one revolutionary meeting another has kept haunting me over the years. And here at long last, a few days ago, I have started to read Long Walk to Freedom.
Rolihlahla was born in the Transkei, a state just northeast of where the native Zebra-Haworthia grows. All three of my current cohabitants are from Eastern Cape, – like I am from eastern India. I have already encountered many Indians in Mandela’s story. I wonder if I’ll come across any more I know.
I am also looking for the answer to my question about pride. Whether one comes across what they are looking for or not, these searches never really fail. I’ll see you again, I hope, somewhere further down the journey.