I let the words ‘my most beautiful thing’ be there within me for the night and even as I slept, the subconscious worked in its own strange way and kept on searching answers for me. The first thing that happened in the morning was a short silent discussion with my brain…

‘Well,’ I asked a bit apprehensively, ‘what do you think is my most beautiful thing?’

‘Oh no, I’m not going to tell you that,’ said my brain, ‘that is something you need to figure out on your own.’

‘But you said you’d help,’ I whispered urgently.

‘Yes, I will help you understand what these words really mean,’ answered my brain, and then continued after a pause, ‘what do you like doing?’

‘I love writing,’ I said. There was silence and I thought quickly about all the times I sat down to write and found that not all moments when I wrote, were memorable. There were times when I wrote when I was restless, or even when I was under tremendous pressure and had to write some utter nonsense because it needed to be communicated urgently. This obviously was writing that had to be completed being a part of my corporate communications assignments… and official writing isn’t always a happy experience. So I hurriedly continued, ‘No, it cannot be writing.’

‘I always find you putting everything in its proper place. I find your arguments impeccable. I find you wanting to do things in the right way,’ the brain said, ‘so would the most beautiful thing be logic?’

‘Logic,’ I repeated incredulously, ‘is undoubtedly an interesting word and gives a scientific temper to moments, but it can be hideous at times.’

‘What about travel?’

‘Aren’t we jumping erratically from one plane to another now?’ I said, and added, ‘Travel has made me a lot of new friends, given me so many pictures, and themes to write on but I invariably tire of them and want to get back home.’

I waited for some time to let the thought sink in and continued, ‘The most beautiful thing needs to be with me all the time, so it surely cannot be travel. It cannot be the home either or the office or work or vacations or any of my friends of the past or the present or even thoughts of the future.’

‘Thanks,’ said the brain, ‘for making my task so much easier. You can consider a book, a film, a play, an event, or even a lecture as the most beautiful thing to happen to you.’

Yes, there are films that I can watch any number of times and yet never get bored or tired or restless… I have seen ‘Gladiator’ a number of times and have found it just as engrossing every single time. There are Hindi films like ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ that fall in a similar category. But would any of them qualify as the most beautiful thing? ‘Well, this is harder than I thought.’

‘You’ve read that book about the old man and the sea so many times,’ prompted my brain.

‘No, it can’t be there,’ I said, ‘and not even my favourite poem by Harivansh Rai Bachchan. Not even my favourite chemistry teacher in college. Nor any of the lovely wines that I’ve tasted. None can be there as the most beautiful thing!’

‘Ah! So the senses cannot qualify,’ the brain was getting smarter now, and added, ‘no winning votes for taste, sight, smell, and touch.’

I asked my brain to take a power nap for a while as I got ready and went for my morning walk. Back home, the issue was yet unsolved. I went on to reject the claims of comedy and tragedy, said no to thrills and stills, rejected sounds and silence, shunned from hate and spite, and even closed the chapter for love and God!

Now even the brain was getting a little restless, ‘What is it that you’re looking for? Or are you simply… wait, would a ‘test’ be the most beautiful thing?’

I smiled and said:

‘Neither test nor testy it can be
Nor money nor things that are free
Walking, jogging, or sprinting
Or even eyeing or blinking
Or strength or power to strike
Or the ability to spread dislike
No, none of these can be
The one I so want to see!’ 

‘If I could, I’d clap,’ said the brain, ‘but neither poetry nor ditties can save you from reaching a decision. You need to decide what the most beautiful thing is.’

‘What can be the beaut…’

‘Is it you father or mother or wife or son?’

‘They’re all my favourites,’ I said, ‘and it’s not fair to grade relationships,’ and then after a pause, I continued, ‘And before you make any smart comment, it cannot be ‘humanity’ as well.’

‘Well, not humanity, but can it be life?’

And as the brain said this, the answer came to me. ‘Life,’ I said excitedly, ‘what gives life to every little moment, experience, and happening?’ And saying this, I literally broke into a song-and-dance routine… well, I didn’t dance actually because Indians aren’t the sorts who get up and dance every time there is some excitement. Such things happen only in Hollywood movies. But I did try to speak these lines as if it were a song…

‘It tugs and pulls and chugs along
Hums and even sings a song
Giving life to all I taste
Packing as one what’s right or wrong!
It enters my mind and even stays out
Remains cool and refreshing as a spout
It’s here and there and everywhere
With the weak and lean and even the stout!’

‘But what is it?’ asked the brain,
‘Tell me fast, or I’ll have a sprain!’

‘It is in taste and even haste
On a brush, inside the paste
It’s the smile when I get late
Or the frown when I need to wait!’

‘But what is it?’ asked the brain,
‘Tell me fast, or I’ll have a sprain!’

‘It sings with me and shares my grief
Even stares in dis-belief
It can be ‘it’ and can be ‘they’
For, it is a whole and yet it’s brief!’

‘But what is it?’ asked the brain,
‘Tell me fast, or I’ll have a sprain!’

The most beautiful thing!

The most beautiful thing!

‘Ok,’ I told the brain not to sprain as I’d be in a fix then, and gave him the answer, ‘it is WORDS.’


‘Yes, words,’ I confirmed, and added:

‘Isn’t it a word
That connects us
To everything that lives?
I see a word and
An image is there.
I see an image and
It gets stored as so many words.
I am happy with my wife
And the moments remain alive
As words.
It is words that live
And I fear I am just a few words
A few beautiful words
Strung together
And made alive!’

‘Seems logical,’ said the brain, ‘And there is poetry as well as prose there. Anger, frown, and fuming are words. So are smile, beauty, and love.’

‘Yes,’ I said, ‘Aren’t words simply beautiful? They are the ones we ride on to reach out into other hearts. Even ‘silence’ exists as a rather sagacious word in our minds. A word that makes us go and seek even the secrets of the universe.’

Experiences, some say,
Don’t need words.
Silence, some say,
Never goes after words.
Love can be communicated
Through the eyes.
A small imperceptible shrug can
Tell us if a person is angry or not.
A little wink goes a long way and
A cursory touch can heal wounds. 

Yes, all this is just as correct as the fact that it is words that have written about these abstractions and you’ve read my words and know what I am saying.

Words are as beautiful as all that exists. To be fair, I love even those words that tell gory tales or snip and cut and hurt. Words that enjoy planting hatred and dislike and words that harm and make you feel lonely and unwanted. They are all words that are as important to life as the ones that twirl charmingly and send flying kisses of affection!

No wonder then that when I need to decide on what the most beautiful thing in the world is, I have gone and opted for WORDS. Yes ‘words’ exists as one and sends out so many of its soldiers to bind and connect us all. Words form the worlds that were, the worlds that are, and the worlds that will be!


This post is created to compliment the effort on My Most Beautiful Thing Blogsplash to celebrate beautiful things – inspired by Fiona Robyn’s new novel The Most Beautiful Thing. Bloggers from all over the world are taking part and writing or posting pictures of their most beautiful things today. Find out more here and see everyone else’s blog posts here.


Arvind Passey
24 April 2012