POWER OF WORDS & PERSONAL STRUGGLE

POWER OF WORDS & PERSONAL STRUGGLE
Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ
At that time I was studying philosophy in Jnana
Deepa Vidyapeeth (JDV), Pune. I had already
developed my habit of reading a lot on a variet
y of subjects. For the book-lovers like me JDV
was a paradise of books and hundreds of Indian
and foreign periodicals. Over and above, the
JDV Librarian, Fr. Josef Schlei
gal, S.J. was a waking encycl
opedia of knowledge. He knew the
contents of thousands of books
and periodicals! If you want to
read books or
articles on a
p
articular topic, you tell about it to Fr. Schleiga
l. He will get you the books and periodicals o
n
the topic and even tell you the page numbers of a
particular book or the title of the article in a
p
eriodical and their author!
The Chennai based news weekly ‘New Leader’
announced an all India level essay competition.
According to the conditions of the competitions
I wrote and sent an essay of about 1000 words.
The topic of the essay was something like “The
Place of Rituals and Worship in the Life o
f
People”.
Before writing the essay I had taken the help
of the JDV Librarian Fr
. Schleigal in finding an
d
reading some books and magazi
ne articles on the topic.
I was able to write a good essay as I was much
enriched by my readi
ngs. With knowledge gaine
d
from books and magazines I combined my observ
ations and personal e
xperiences. So I was
happy with my essay and I was thrilled with the result of the essay competition that my essay
fetched the first prize!
There was also a similar essay competition announced by the same New Leader in the secon
d
year of my philosophy study. This time the
topic was “The Importance of Reading an
d
Periodicals in the Life of People”. Again I took
part in the essay comp
etition and once more I
won the first prize! Then, my joy was boundless
when I saw my whole essay printed with my
p
hoto in the New Leader which was widely circulat
ed in India. With the prize money I was able
to help a friend then studying journalism in P
oona University. Actually, I had totally forgotte
n
about helping my friend. So I was pleasantly surprise
d to read in an article written by my frien
d
in DOOT mentioning the help I gave him with
the prize-money when he was in need.
During the summer holidays in 1972 before going
to study philosophy at Pune I had gone to
Chennai and worked in New Leader office for six weeks under the guidance of the Editor, Dr.
James Kottoor. Dr. Kottoor was then among the ve
ry few professionally
trained journalists i
n
India. He had a post-graduate degree from Ma
rquette University in USA. Then, during the
following summer vocation I had worked in
the editorial office of Poona Herald (now
Maharashtra Herald) under its ve
teran Editor, Mr. David for a m
onth and a half. Then, on every
Thursday, that is, on our weekly off day, I used
to go to the journalism department of Poona
University and attended the lectures of
some professors with special permission.
With these kinds of engagements I got interested
deeply in journalism
and I decided to study i
t
p
rofessionally. Examining various prospectives
of journalism courses offered by differen
t
universities, I thought that the Poona University
was the best with one year of post-graduate
degree course of Bachelor of Journalism. My
best friend had done the B. J. course.
I was convinced of the power of
the written word by winning two
first prizes in national level
essay competitions and by working two summer
holidays in newspaper offices at Chennai an
d
Pune. People appreciated my mast
ery of the English language for
its style and word-power. So
much so, before finishing my three years of
philosophy, theology combined studies at Pune I
wrote a long letter to my Provincial Superior
at Ahmedabad expressing my desire to study
p
rofessional journalism at Poona University. I felt th
at I have put before my superior my case in
great detail with all necessary informations.
“Brother Varghese, now without
thinking of journalism you fully
concentrate on your philosophy
studies. I will see to the rest”, I got a very short
reply from my superior. I was very upset with my
superior’s letter without any concrete reference to
the things which I have written in my letter. I
had worked hard to coll
ect a lot of information about vari
ous journalism courses available i
n
India and I had explained in my
letter that the Poona Universi
ty offered the best journalis
m
p
rogramme in one year. I have
often heard my superiors in
Gujarat that we need a p
r
ofessionally
trained young journalist to work in Gujarat especially to edit and manage the Jesuit family
magazine, DOOT.
I was thinking that my letter will have a good
effect on my Provincial Superior and he woul
d
appreciate it. I thought that I made my superi
or’s job easy by choosing a much needed area o
f
service and a most suitable trai
ning programme to prepare myself
for it. When it was difficult to
find young Jesuits to enter into prof
essional journalism I have been very helpful to my superiors
in offering myself to enter in
to the field and do appropriate
study. So I was hoping that withou
t
any hesitation my superior will grant me perm
ission to study journalism in Poona University.
But, instead of thanking me for
my letter and appreciating the thin
gs I have written in my letter,
my superior in a short note just reminded
me about my duty and responsibility to study
p
hilosophy! I felt very bad about my superior’s
letter. I thought that there is no resemblance
between his talking big and the re
ality. I even told a few of my
Jesuit friends doing philosophy
with me that the Superior’s talk of the
importance of the mass media and wanting to young
Jesuits in the media is all
rubbish and hogwash. It is all
empty talk and nothing more!
I was very angry about such double talk of my
superiors. I have proved my competence in
writing by winning not once but twice
in all India essay competitions. But instead of appreciating
and encouraging me, my superiors have just put
me down! I had worked
hard in collecting all
necessary information and had written the Provinci
al Superior a long letter
. But I did not get the
desired response! I was shoc
ked and totally disappointed.
For many days I experienced an internal co
mmotion and intellectual struggle in my mind.
“Varghese, you have done your part of the job well.
You have presented your case in all clarity.
N
ow let your superior do what
he thinks best for you. You have
taken the vow of obedience to
live according to his will and command. In obedie
nce you lead your life happily accepting both
what you like and also what you do
not like. It is not proper for
you to grumple against the desire
and the will of your superior. While you try to wa
lk on the foot steps of
St. Ignatius, the founde
r
of the Society of Jesus, who wishes you to accep
t joyfully even the wish
es of your superior, your