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  • Writer's pictureShailja Chandra

'Entitled to You' - On virtues of ‘Negative Capability’ by John Keats

Updated: Jul 14, 2021


PAIN arrived unannounced with all his sodden bags and bedding. A long-lost blood from a far, misty, mystical hilly town, where the valley perennially drips wet. Like a primitive bushman, oblivious to a city's ways and flows, Pain imposed and interrupted. Pain arrived. Uninvited. Unannounced.


Often at the quiet of night, he could be heard stealthily working, pouring raw-salty waters and sawing through something heavy, cold, something metallic. Heart-wrenchingly slowly, invading her senses subtly, as though performing alchemy of some sort, to induce tremors of heart and wretchedness she was uninitiated to. He could be heard sawing through something cold, something metallic.


Life began to lose sense of reality and bemoaned to get the flow back. Little did she know that there was no return for this blood. Pain was here to stay with all his sodden bags and bedding.


Little did she know that a time was to come when she will form an unprecedented bond with Pain, heart-achingly beautiful and rare. Bond of one umbilical chord. A bond that is all consuming, irrevocable.


Little did she know that her encounter with Pain would be a rare privilege of all her sojourns on this earth. That she is entitled to him.


‘She is entitled to him’.


Something had whispered this into her on the very first night Pain arrived, but for good reasons Life wouldn’t be able to unveil the gifts wrapped in her fragility, until Pain can purify her. Until Pain picks up the pain brush and paints on Life's canvass with colors never seen before. Until Life can sense the virtues of 'negative capability’.


She now wears it around her heart, the healing virtues of 'negative capability', like wool as pious as progeny of prairies of Himalayas. Preserved by its sacred warmth, Life now willingly collects her fragilities and imperfections like rare conch shells that sea of life offers. She gasps at the exquisite carvings of vulnerabilities and mistakes and the elegant spirals of uncertainties, unknowns. Life willingly embraces her fragilities and imperfections like rare conch shells for they carry the code of very core of her existence. Pregnant with the melody of the divine, they carry the entire sea in the spire.


Empowered by the virtues of 'negative capability', Life now begins to sense that heartache, once shattering, is indeed a privilege of being chosen for the auspicious vulnerability. The word ‘pain’, once connoted with agony, is now an honored sensation of touching the very heart of existence. Tears that once ringed her ears in unrelenting nights of not-sharable ache, now speak to her – 'you have just met yourself’.


Not only does she embrace them, but Life is now solicitous of Pain. She grants him the power to mesmerise, hypnotise, enchant her. She surrenders to not knowing, to uncertainty. She is open to being wrong. She lets the lava of love set her on fire, she is open to breaking and aching of hearts.


She is willing to become a tale, a never ending saga. She is music, a dance, a falling and flowing of moments separated from incessant time. Life is powerful in her fragilities and imperfections for she is purified by her so-loved Pain.


She is entitled to him.


(*'Negative Capability', a term coined by John Keats, is an ability to trust one’s inability to control the things that cannot be controlled. Acknowledgement of 'Negative Capability' allows us to embrace uncertainties, doubts, making mistakes, not knowing...and pain.)

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