Friday 14 August 2015

The Wizard in our Life

The Wizard in our Life

Two days ago, I happened to be in my daughter Namrata’s room and noticed Frank Baum’s book, The Wizard of Oz in her library.

I felt a pang of pain in my heart because it made me miss my father.

In the last year of his life, my Dad couldn’t walk.  He could not eat or drink water or speak.  About 6 months before he passed away, this was one book of the two books he had asked me to fetch for him.

Although he couldn’t speak, his mind was extremely sharp and active and he would, with trembling hands, write down his instructions for me.

I remembered searching our library for the book and giving it to him.  My father was one of the most well read men I knew.  I wondered why he asked for this children’s book.  After all, he had read and reread, and built a library at home with hundreds of books on literature, history, religion and the arts and sciences.  

The book must have stayed in his room with the piles of other books he was always surrounded with.  After he passed away, somehow the book had made it way to the bookshelf in Namrata’s room.

I didn’t remember much of the story, except that there was one little girl Dorothy who was the main protagonist of the story along with the tin woodman, a scarecrow, and a cowardly lion and the wizard of Oz.  Beyond this I didn’t remember anything.

I wondered again.  Why did my Dad ask for it and did he really read it in those last months while he was still awake?

I read the book yesterday.

The story is very simple.  When a tornado rips through Kansas, Dorothy (a young orphan) and her dog Toto, are blown away to the land of Oz.  Oz was the name of a very powerful Wizard.   The locals (dwarf-like people called Munchkins) in the Land of Oz advised her that she must ask the Oz to help her get back to Kansas.  They said that he was the only one capable of helping her and Tito get back.

Dorothy had to travel to the Emerald city to meet the Wizard and en route, she and Toto, meet a Scarecrow (who believes that he does not have a brain), a Tin Woodman (who believes that he does not have a heart) and a Lion (who believes that he does not have courage).  

The Scarecrow decides to join Dorothy on her journey because he believes that the Wizard Oz would give him some brains, the Tin Woodman joins her because he believes that the Wizard Oz could give him a heart and the Lion joins her believing that the Wizard could give him some courage.

They face lots of dangers and hazards and obstacles on the journey to the Emerald city.

Throughout the journey the Scarecrow when faced with challenges and dangers exhibits remarkable intelligence while at the same time being totally unaware of his smarts.

They face several tragedies and each time the Tin Woodman exhibits remarkable empathy and love while at the same time being unaware of his compassion.

And every time they face mortal dangers, the lion shows remarkable courage and saves everybody’s life.

Yet all three are totally unaware that they possess in great measure within themselves that which they think they need: brains, love and courage.

When they finally meet the Wizard Oz they discover that he had no powers.  He was good man but no wizard and couldn’t help them at all.

“Can’t you give me brains?” asked the Scarecrow.
“How about my Courage?” asked the Lion.
“Can’t you give me a heart?” asked the Tin Woodman
And, “Can’t you help me get back to Kansas?” asked Dorothy.

But the Wizard was a humbug.  He had no powers.

But the truth which I realise as I read the book was that each one of them had the power within themselves to overcome all the obstacles.

The scarecrow always had a brain when faced with a problem that had to be solved.   The Tin Woodman, had a heart, he showed great love and empathy whenever he met someone who needed it and the Lion always had the courage to face his fears when confronted with them.
And finally, Dorothy simply didn’t know that she was wearing magic shoes.  Her shoes were all that she needed to get back home.

It’s been slightly over a year that my father left us.  I miss him every day.  Often times I wish he was around so that I could ask him a question and take his advice, especially when I worry about Namrata and Aryan.  All the years that he was with me, I never asked him for advice but his presence was what always comforted me.

One of the last notes that he wrote to me with his trembling hands was that, “I have many things to tell you.”
My dad never got that opportunity.

He couldn’t speak that last year and the abyss sucked us down so quickly that we never knew what hit us.  I will never know what he wanted to tell me.

But the truth is that in all the long years that I had the good fortune of having him with me, he never gave me any advice.....He always led by example. And perhaps he knew that.

And so on the day he asked me to fetch the book, he must have known that one day, I will wonder why he read this book in his last moments. I will wonder and then read it.

And then I will also know that when faced with doubt and uncertainty and obstacles that I too am enough unto myself.  That I have enough love and brains and courage to face all that life has in store.

And like Dorothy, I too have my magic shoes to take me home.


  1. This is one of the best write up i have read in recent times...
    I will go and buy this book. Thanks

    Suresh Wadhwani

  2. Very true , I re-read this blog at least 3 times, even coming back to after 10 days....

    I believe each one of us truly has this 3 basic magic potions to handle life on our own- love, brains and courage and which we always seek from outside whereas all the time it is there within us.

    We just have to get in touch with ourselves more often.

    Thank you for such a beautiful blog ��