Rehnuma (noun): 1. (from Urdu) A guide or leader.
I came across this word while reading a book on Indian history. It immediately struck a chord and I decided to look it up. I wasn’t really enthralled by the rather ordinary English equivalent of the word. The word is so poetic in its original urdu rendering, it softly tickles your throat to evoke a muffled hiss before finally rolling off your tongue in a sensual half kiss. Merely saying ‘leader’ or ‘guide’ simply does not do justice to this beautiful word.
There are so many words that resonate with the beauty of this word. Sample these:
I feel that these words better reflect the true meaning of this word. Yet, people don’t want to be romantic and go with the most boring of words to go with it. I would personally suggest the use of ‘Captain’ as in ‘O Captain! My captain!’ by Walt Whitman, but nobody’s listening.
Language has become so bloody practical! Efficiency has killed romance. Haste, hurry and laziness has reduced our expressions to sentences consisting of four truncated words that take twice as much time to decipher. Involvement has given way to brevity. Who would want to write love letters to woo the object of their desire when smileys, electronic winks and kisses made of asterisks can do the job.
In such a world, someone like me is an anachronism. I know there are many like me. They live their lives surrounded by things that remind them of the ordinariness of their existence and subdue their creative instincts. Tim Leary exhorts me to find the others, but when I look around, I find that I have been condemned to lead a dull life among people who struggle to accommodate me, often finding me too much to bear, too forceful, too dominant. When I finally manage to wriggle out, disappointed at my failure to find solace in their company, I find that the outer circle of ‘the others’ was just an illusion.
Am I just one of ‘them’ whom Tim Leary talks about? Am I the ordinary guy struggling to live up to my expectations and not being able to reconcile with the fact that I am just ordinary? If I am ordinary, why can’t I enjoy ordinary pleasures? Why do I seek out things that are beyond my reach? Why do I yearn for the impossible?
In this age of ordinary life bereft of any notable achievements or even failures of Humanity, has extra-ordinariness become so commonplace that it loses its meaning?
Whatever may be the case, one thing is certain: I am disillusioned with how things are and I feel that I don’t belong. I need to find my place in this world. I need a friend, philosopher and guide to point me towards it. I need a rehnuma.