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The four archetypes

Of late, a habitually forgetful person known to me has started being punctual and keeping his word. While many of us wondered how this makeover happened, it reminded me of a late friend, a scriptwriter-turned-director of Malayalam films. Some time ago, I went to interview him. He had suggested that we meet at 8 a.m. as he was leaving for Chennai by 10 a.m. I was at his doorsteps on the dot after a two-hour drive. But he was still in bed. Eccentric absent-mindedness of creative masters?

He sat for the interview with profound apologies, suggesting that I keep a fair distance from him as he had not brushed his teeth. When I wanted to click a few pictures, he reminded me of his mouth. “No issues, my clicks won’t capture any halitosis,” I said. He burst into laughter.

Wonder why some are unable to keep their word? People vary and thus the reasons too. But is the habit a function of nature or nurture? Even those who pass out from disciplinarian schools turn lax later in life.

Chakyarkoothu, Kerala’s oral theatre tradition that originated during the 9th and 10th centuries, classify people into four archetypes. The first is typical of someone trustworthy and standing by their word and thus hailed as sarasa sarasan. Virasa sarasan is the second type. They flatly refuse to undertake anything responsible or requested to execute, but they, however, do a great job in the end. Ask them to do something or a favour. They more often than not give a cynical nod. But for sure, they would execute the task. One can trust them.

The third sort is virasa virasan. Very open and direct. Wear no masks and least bothered of anything and anybody. Even if one seeks a simple assistance at no labour or cost, they reject it straightaway. Even if their parents or siblings hardly possess any of that trait, it so happens. Though not helpful, they are harmless. Except for some initial embarrassments, one may rest assured that a known devil is better than an unknown angel.

And the last is a sample of successful politicians. They agree to execute anything and everything that one desires. Have you fancied an elephant of your own or an airport near home? Or even want to become the next President? They promise to get it done with an always smiling façade. Mind you, they are sarasa virasan, the most vicious. They emotionally feast on others’ predicaments.

Now which category do you fit in?

kkgkerala@gmail.com

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 7:10:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-four-archetypes/article33642040.ece

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