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Mahes Visvalingam
Post-retirement postings

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Philosophical Thoughts

 

 

 

Ruminations

The Oxford English Dictionary provides an interesting definition and an example of the word ruminate. Ruminate means to think deeply about something; e.g. ‘we sat ruminating on the nature of existence’ https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/ruminate

 

I would like to share some of my ruminations about some significant events in my life.

 

1996+: Unseen entities

The folklore of different cultures often refer to 'spirits' of different kinds, and ghosts. I grew up in a multiethnic culture in which people believed in the existence of invisible entities.  I myself had little direct experience of these even if as a child I frightened myself and the whole neighbourhood with a scream late in the night from an over active imagination prompted by a fear of being alone upstairs, lit only by a full moon, which made the shadows look darker and even more frightening.

 

The fear of the dark was overcome when I was forced to walk home after midnight from the main road to our house after playing the part of Mrs Malaprop in an inter-school production of The Rivals. Fate must have made the producer of the play drop me off on the main road when it would not have taken her much longer to drop me off outside our house. The neighbourhood was notorious for gangs, the occasional rape of girls, stray dogs and cobras - never mind the dark.  I had to steel myself and block all thoughts to march home. These and similar incidents helped to moderate the childhood paranoia of the dark, spirits and the like.  To avoid disturbing my family, I used to go on my scooter to the University in Pantai Valley so that I could revise for exams through the night and early morning hours sitting on the outside stairs of the Education Block lit by lamps on the footpath.  I almost forgot about these things after I came to the UK to pursue a PhD.

 

In 1996, I returned to Malaysia to see my 93 year old father (see Mah Jongg divination), my family, and my school friends at our centenary celebration dinner - all very exceptional people in my life.  My sister arranged for me to visit an astrologer.  His forecast of several events was correct even if the dates were not. He was of the firm belief that nothing which happens in our life does so by chance, and that accidents are caused by unseen entities.  I did not really take in what he said then until the following happened.

  • I cannot remember exactly when this happened.  My husband and I were walking on country roads around midday.  For some unexplainable reason I said to him that this was the sort of place where Easterners would say that spirits would haunt around midday noting that there were footpaths crossing the road.  He turned around to see what I was referring to while I walked on.  Suddenly I felt pushed and stumbled but managed to brace myself.  I could not believe that I had been pushed and thought I must have imagined it and and that I had stumbled.  So, I walked on and this time I definitely felt pushed even harder and fell down grazing my knee and hand.  I would say the push was somewhat like the force of a magnetic repulsion, focused on my spine under the shoulder blades. My body was stunned and I got myself off the road and sat on the step of a style while tears rolled down to relieve the shock.  

    That was the end of the walk and I was still shaken at bedtime.  I woke up the following morning feeling very weepy and very unlike me.  I felt that someone had died and was trying to work out whom it could be.  At about 11 a.m. my niece rang to say that her friend, Thana, had died the previous day.  I had been writing to Thana who had been terminally ill with rectal cancer since she had two young boys.  I wondered if my philosophical letters had upset or angered her - and that her spirit had wanted to let me know that.  Anyway, it was all water under the bridge and my life moved on.
     

  • I retired in June 2003. I was allowed the use of a room on the first floor and had to single-handedly move all my books and other possessions from my office on the third floor in July during the peak of the hay fever season.  Shifting dusty books made matters worse and I was quite exhausted at the end of the day as we walked to the car park.  I was on the inside of the footpath, my husband and another colleague were on the road side.  As we came to the overhead bridge connecting the Social Sciences and the Students Union buildings, the path swerved slightly to the left.  The space under the bridge was concreted with blocks of protruding cubical blocks with sharp corners to deter car parking.

    I stumbled and could feel myself lurching forward onto the blocks and falling head first.  We were going through a bad time with my husband having recently lost the sight in his right eye and having very little vision in the left.  I remember thinking that this is the last thing we need, and stretching my hand out to try and save my head. I then felt myself being lifted before passing out for what must have been no more than a second. When I came to, I was just into the road and my two companions could not imagine how I had managed the feat of propelling myself past them. I only had a minor cut to my palm.  I was in a state of shock.  The blood was rushing up to my brain and it felt as if my painful carotoid arteries and head were about to burst.  I had to sit on the steps leading up to the footbridge until the symptoms of shock subsided before driving us both home.

These were salutary lessons.  Life can be a bed of roses (not that mine was) and some entity  can push you down and turn your world upside down.  Equally, some unseen being can keep impending catastrophes within manageable bounds. These unseen beings can make us and break us. I can testify to their presence and thank them for their protection and support. Even when I was pushed, it was for a reason; it made me take greater note of what happened in 2003. We have silent witnesses and not just autobiographical memories of everything which happens to us, even if we do not have the gift of recall like Aurelian Hayman has, which can be a curse to people with traumatic memories. Perhaps all these entities and memories play a part when it comes to judgement day. 

 

Started 27/05/07          

Last updated on 08/01/17