As the days fall into the alcove of that dark place from where they can never be regained or relived, I wonder how much of our lives are just memories. Yet, I believe, memories will never do justice to what is. They will always be coloured by our imagination. Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Yet with what ardent fondness we hold on to some of them. We are prejudiced in that way. We try to reinvent our past by picking and choosing only certain moments to chronicle. We make pictures where everyone is always smiling. Or eating. Or winning an award or are cutting birthday cakes. You’ll never see people taking and storing the other kind of pictures. The dull, the boring, the everyday. Worse, you will never see the under-the-surface personal tragedies. Someone choking on their daily life. They are the unspoken for memories, nobody wishes to deal with them, present them for public consumption and acknowledgement. They are – these unwrapped memories – the orphans in time. Moments of our lives not chronicled but wilfully neglected and negated. Consciously and not-so-consciously. They are hidden in that darkness that subsumes all things ugly and painful. But they don’t remain hidden forever. On rare occasions a stray ray of light illuminates the ugliness that was, the pain that slipped into an asphyxiated silence, the urgency with which we remembered to forget them. How we wish for their quiet demise. Yet they surface to meet us making us feel vulnerable and, for a long moment, all alone in strange world. In their wake we tremble a little. Lose our confidence a little. Doubt our choices a little. Little by little, thereby, we become complete. For we are human and our life stories are never concluded with only pictures of us cutting birthday cakes.
‘Happy New Year!’
They shout again. Tweet. Text. Fill up our Facebook walls with it. Call to smear it over our ears that drips like thick, wet paint after a while. Mirthfully fling it at us on the chance occasion of a face-to-face meeting in the real world.
‘Happy New Year!’ What do they mean, I wonder? What do those words, spoken with such jubilant spontaneity, mean? Really mean? Wasn’t it just yesterday we were raining tears over the length and breadth of the vast land that is our nation over the gang rape and the subsequent death of some poor girl in Delhi? What changed? When? How long does it take for mourning to stop and become this overwhelming joy that spreads through our hearts, and spills into the streets and sprouts across the all-encompassing virtual world? Fleeting is human life, I know. Fleeting still must our feelings for the loss of it be, is it?
As I sit pondering over my rising aversion at this mass hysteria over the ticking of a clock, a singular thought takes shape in my head and suddenly it all seems right. The mirth is born for a reason. It has a meaning. What ‘Happy New Year’ implies is far greater than just its literal meaning. The meaning is far grander than getting drunk, or wild parties. The meaning is far glorious than I have ever hoped to find in those three words. And it is this:
From the first gasp of air we struggle for to the last, what we are offered by life is a fighting chance – a fighting chance in and for Life. That is why in spite of the growing grotesqueness of evil, in spite of intermittent loss of faith in mankind, in spite of often being turned into disposable pawns in unrelenting power games that operates in a darkness we cannot even fathom, our will to survive as a race succeeds. In rebellion we rise – as individuals and as a collective force – every time the option of having no options is shoved down our throats. Whether it is in a small gesture of standing up to the prejudices of a boss, or gathering and garnering the collective energy of a whole nation that can topple despotic governments, the human will fights back. In the name of human decency it fights. It fights in the name of Equality. It fights in the name of Fairness, Freedom and Justice. It rises, and fights for all the virtues that makes us Man.
Every ‘Happy New Year!’ we wish one another is a subconscious hymn offered at the altar of that fighting chance each one of us has. Against all odds. Every moment of every day. For the next 365 days. It is a reminder to fight for what makes life possible, gives it meaning and makes it worthwhile. Above all, it is a clarion call – as long as a fighting chance exists – to fight. Just like the 23-year old physiotherapist in Delhi must have had till her last breath. It is our right. It is our responsibility.
Happy New Year, and Salute!
Some day a meat cleaver will be put to work on your very core. You won’t see it but it’ll all be there – blood, shattered bones, flesh hanging loose from big ugly wounds of your soul. That used to be a person before, you’d think. Now it’s just a gooey lump in red, white and purple blue. Splattered across surfaces like a Jackson Pollock painting.The inside is all outside, and all over the walls, and floors. Clinging to curtains, hanging on to coffee tables, creating strange patterns on the dirty carpet marked by heavy footprints. Barely recognizable as human in its new form or spatial arrangement. And you’d stand there amidst the pieces like a ghost while a tiny voice inside your head will ask in mock amusement, “Anyone you know?” Curiosity is limitless. Concern not so. Some day it’ll help you to remember that.
The human world hangs in a dark universe. Like a glowing, red terracotta lamp. The kind that lights up living room corners of people convinced of their aesthetic tastes and can afford convictions. Little black bugs, flies and mosquitoes buzz around the warm spot of life, swarm it in increasing frenzy. Lust for life hums in relief. The vast expanse of lifeless, lightless universe around it waits patiently. Like a pet python that knows the chicken thrown inside its cage has no escape. Certainty gives one the patience of a saint.
And the world goes on spinning. Ever so fast. But not more so. In its pitch-perfect way. Every day, every hour, every millisecond spinning toward an absolute unknown. Perfect in its calculated motion. Perfect on its axis. Spinning. Like a merry-go-round. Round and round and round and round. Nauseate if you must, but don’t fall off.
Don’t take your feet off the ground. The ground is haloed. It is the warm spot of life. Where the sun doesn’t turn you into cinder. Where the moon doesn’t suck life out of your lungs. Love, laughter, lust, even if available in carbon copies made in triplicate, give you reasons to dream. Holding hands and smiling babies divulge meaning. Sustenance is to be found. Stay on the ground. Off it there’s only floating emptiness. Without light, without life. Causeless. Ceaseless. Helpless isolation in a darkness without end. Floating in dead cold. Going nowhere but going all the same. It’s so black out there the Grey in here is beguiling. Don’t take your feet off the ground. Nauseate if you must but don’t fall off.
You have seen them before. The fallen. They are everywhere.
At the bottom of ravines and cliffs.
Splattered on concrete pavements next to tall buildings.
Hanging from ceilings and trees.
Bloating in sewers and decimated on train tracks running through every city.
You have heard the stories. The shotgun in the mouth, empty sleeping pill bottles by the couch,
needle sticking out of bleeding veins, an overdose of something not really sane.
You have seen them stare mutely from obituary columns that say – You Left Us Too Early.
In Fond Memory, it is not.
It’s a scar.
The mark of sheer brutality.
Incomprehensible as all that lies in the dark is. Unreasonable, it is.
The calling card left behind by some invisible, invincible enemy.
Whose cold, calm hands drain away the red of life with manic precision.
Leaving us with the blue of pain, and then, the black of absence in our lives.
The black void of goodbyes never said and the hellos never to be said again.
Of loss. Of grief that pales only because the horror is too much.
The living cannot dwell in emptiness for long.
We must keep spinning. In the dark. Against the dark. Spin.
Round and round and round and round. Nauseate if you must but don’t fall off.
There’s some white in grey but none in black. Hold on.
When I hear people rave about the sublime beauty of butterflies, the awe-inspiring sight of Niagara falls, the overwhelming sense of discovery to be felt in Amazon rain forests, or the feeling of divine peace experienced standing by the magnificent sea, I realize I’ve experienced all these emotions, maybe with greater intensity, just watching a beautiful woman ensconced in the warm embrace of restful sleep.
Each one of us, irrespective of who we are, has to be deemed ‘crazy’at least once in our lifetime. As human beings we must attempt the courage to step outside the confines of custom at least once to experience what is possible.
Sex, God, And Country – Part 2 0f 2. [Conclusion]
Aspirations versus Actuality
Right from our days as young kids the dictum ‘Unity in diversity’ has been held up to us by well-meaning people as a self-evident truth while explaining what India is. As adults it becomes obvious to us that those words are no more representative of existent realities than the many other words we learned by rote in school and often still repeat with moving earnestness, including: ‘India is my country. All Indians are my brothers and sisters. I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage. I shall always strive to be worthy of it. I shall give my parents, teachers and all elders respect and treat everyone with courtesy. To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion. In their well being and prosperity alone, lies my happiness.’ Just like our National Pledge is best understood as a noble and deeply appealing intent – a stated ideal we can and should be striving towards, the saying ‘Unity in diversity’ has relevance when understood, at best, as an honest appeal to what should be, and not what is. Our national character is diverse, no doubt, but there is no unity in that diversity unless we decide that geography is the only factor that gives meaning and credence to the word ‘unity.’
The truth of our nation is much less ideal. The diversity in India does not infuse into a harmonious unity but exists in a state of latent conflict underneath the broad strokes of the ‘spiritual, educated, democratic, liberalized’ varnish our society is painted with. Imperceptible at a cocktail party or cricket stadium, the motive power that shapes our national character lies as a molten mass of raw emotions and naked prejudices; culturally inherited and consistently reaffirmed ideas, identities and ideologies existing in a state of flux without syncretic possibilities. The reality born from this national subconscious is not unity but contradiction. To understand the visible character of India as a nation we need to first understand this twilight zone.
The loud, colorful, dazzling, phantasmagorical display that characterizes the dominant idea of India – like fireworks adorning a night sky – is the visible end result of two very different and often paradoxical realities coming together, sometimes with great sensory appeal, and sometimes with horrific consequences; often, if not always, rising from the same national subconscious. If one enthralls us with the enlightened spirit of public demonstrations by same-sex lovers for their fundamental rights, the other, with equal power, jolts our senses with the dismay, disillusionment and terror of the young men and women stabbed to death, burnt alive or hung from trees for falling in love outside their castes. Both are notions of justice as experienced in our country. The noble vision of social activists fighting against the primitivepractice of child-marriage in our country gets its contrast from the picture of school age children proclaiming sexual liberation by having sex on camera and posting it on the internet. Both are notions of freedom as experienced in our country. The dripping, volatile bloody red of rape, murder, mass destruction and uncontrolled rage Indians unleash on one another in the name of their inherited Gods achieves a somnambulist sensibility against the tricolors of a nation that comes together as one under the bat of Sachin Tendulkar and enthrones him ‘God.’ Both are notions of fidelity as practiced in our country. The black that underscores the ignorance of the largest illiterate population in the whole world is submerged in the jubilant white of a whole nation that feels liberated in exercising its right to vote. Both are notions of life as they exist in our country. Underneath such stark, visible patterns lies the hidden truth of our nation. The contradictions we see, in that sense, are not just contradictions; they are clues to the psyche of this grand spectacle called India.
The Other 2 ‘G’ Debacle
A typical Indian who adorns the walls of his house with framed pictures of his god alongside pictures of his favorite political leaders is an ignoramus. No. He is not. He is the keeper of a secret that binds India together. To hold these disparate forces – one, ethereal, and the other, earthly – within the same reverential framework, all he has to do is look through the eyes of his ancestors – and see the world as a manifestation of a single life source; a popular idea from the rich spiritual past of our nation. And as far as God and Government (politics) are concerned there are enough unifying properties between them for the aam admi to find:
- Both are deemed as powers above him.
- Both are invisible, and are represented by a chosen few.
- Both originated in his awareness as benevolent forces.
- Both can be held responsible for the miseries plaguing him.
- Both work in mysterious ways; that is, beyond the understanding of common folks like him.
- Both have faithful believers and vehement critics.
- Both demand certain discipline in believers, and invoke specific rituals.
- Both promise Heaven in return of his faith: one, literally, and the other, figuratively.
- Both are inherited, and (usually) adopted by default rather than design in his life.
It is not any different from understanding the appeal of superheroes in a kid’s fantasy. No matter how different their costumes are, where they originated from or what their powers, all superheroes personify the same values and ultimately, the victory of Good over Evil. In essence, a superhero becomes the symbol of hope for all mankind. Similar is the essence and appeal of God and Government. For the aam admi, his destiny is irrevocably tied to the two.
My God Vs. The Government
In spite of attributing such a decisive role to them in his fortunes, when it comes to more pronounced expressions of his fidelity to the two the aam admi reveals the inherent contradictions of Indian psyche that guide his actions. He is happy to volunteer money for God but money to Government is involuntary and parted with under the fear of prosecution and jail time. The irony here lies in the fact that the reasons offered by his Government while demanding his money and the predominant motives that inspire him to voluntarily donate money to his God are the same.
For the sake of greater clarity, let’s state the obvious – that God, as understood by His believers – the supreme creator of all things dead and living, would in no way need a man-made tool of trade. Keeping that in mind, three plausible reasons can be offered for Man’s financial munificence when it comes to his God. One, in his misguided earnestness, he applies the principle of trade among men to his relationship with God, and thereby, offers Him money as a token of gratitude for heavenly favors bestowed or as an incentive for the divine blessings he expects to be receive. Two, driven by a more pragmatic sensibility and altruistic inclination, he donates money to God so that the representatives of his God can deploy the funds in the welfare of the destitute as many religious organizations do. The third reason can be that he wants to ensure the upkeep and continued operation of his God’s institutions and thereby, his God’s presence among men in the times to come. A government, especially a democratic government, needs money for the exact same reasons.
Of course, lack of trust in government can be held up as an argument to explain the reluctance felt towards paying taxes. But when we see that almost every single act of subversion the representatives of our government can be accused of hold equally good and true when it comes to the representatives of God, that argument loses much of its credibility. Misappropriation of public funds, use of public office for personal gains, income tax evasions, sex scandals, accumulation of wealth inappropriate to known sources of income, illegal land acquisitions… the ‘criminal breach of trust’ list fits both parties well. Now, if we are to judge purely by results, the poor performance of our elected governments are no poorer than our chosen God. On the contrary, considering that God has the power to work miracles and had more time than any government anywhere to usher in His world of peace, prosperity, and justice for all, it is ironic that people are so vindictive of the failures of a democratic government made up of mere humans.
The second visible, and significant disparity in the expression of his subservience to the two powers above him can be found in the way how involved the aam admi is with his God and indifferent to his Government. Communion with God through prayers is a part of his normal day. Fasting for His blessings on specific days or dates is considered a must, or at least, highly recommended. All important aspects of his life – birth, death, education, marriage, career, children, and house – are made auspicious by invoking God. God is celebrated as much in villages as in towns or cities with fanfare at least once a year. There are widely participated book readings, prayer meetings, induction programs, introduction camps, community nights, and other such public events in God’s name across the nation. He cooks, cleans, clothes, decorates, gifts, swears by his God. Without saying it in so many words, the aam admi has, through actions, and in spirit said, “I, aam admi, take you All Mighty, to be my God, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward”(without the ‘until death do us part’ bit). He has made God an integral part of his life. He feels responsibility towards his God in the same way his feels responsible for his parents, wife or kids. And that is the clue to the failure of democracy as a mode of governance in India.
India and Indian: A Relationship On Ice
Relationships of all kind derive their meaning and momentum from the involvement of the people who are part of it. A ceremony and living under the same roof do not a marriage make. A birthday gift and a PTA meeting do not a parent make. A miniature national flag bought on Independence Day and filing tax returns do not an Indian make. At least, that is definitely not what we mean when we say we love our spouse, our children or our country. We know relationships mean commitment, and demand continuous involvement. Yet involvement first demands interest; and interest arises only out of awareness. One cannot be interested in what one does not know. One can only fake it. Do we try to know our partner and children or do we expect a psychologist to come and do it for us? Is it possible to know our nation only by how our intellectuals and politicians interpret her? Or Is it possible to really become aware of the democratic institution that is our nation (and not politics as it has come to mean today) and the process of governance?
Ask yourself this: how were we as little kids introduced to formal education so that today we are where we are and know all that we know? You and I, as 3-year old toddlers, comfortable in our roles as princes and princesses of our homes, secure and pampered in our kingdoms, were not lectured on how important it is for our future, or how imperative a college degree is for a job. We got started with the curious shapes that we later started to recognize as things called alphabets which, with time, opened our eyes to bigger and bigger things. Somebody had thought of making the whole world accessible to the 3-year old. How do we make the India intellectually and emotionally accessible to ourselves?
If the people of our nation, irrespective of their class, creed, educational achievement, age or gender, have been imaginative enough to self-start and sustain a movement of continuous awareness, education, and participation in their God and His work, is it not possible to imagine a similar movement for the greater good and glory of our nation? Is it not possible to dedicate part of our time, effort and energy to introduce, educate, and inspire one another in the real process, purpose, and practice of democratic governance. Let us – men and women, young and old, housewives and businessmen, brokers and bankers, artists and teachers, doctors and lawyers, masons and managers – no longer be tourists in our own country. We are citizens of India – in all its legal and spiritual meaning. Let us act as one. Now.
All Love Is Action
Just like we volunteer to read, interpret and explain holy texts for the enlightenment of our brothers and sisters, let us volunteer to read, interpret and explain our constitution and its implications in our lives. Just like we take classes outside the conventional classrooms for our young children introducing them to their God, let us take time to teach them the meaning and guiding rules of politics – its real meaning and potential. Let us reach out to the senior citizens of our nation. Let them all – the retired lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers, pilots, policemen, soldiers, farmers, technologists, technicians, trainers, bureaucrats, … – reach into their areas of expertise, interpret for us the national policies, projects, and plans relating to their field of work in the light of their experience, and help us understand our nation’s direction. Let us learn to know enough to support progress and prevent plunder.
In a democracy of 1.21 billion people, the fact that a privileged minority can hold the struggling majority at ransom is a warning bell, and the last call for action. Let us start getting informed. Let us start getting interested. Let us start getting involved. Let us volunteer to hold open house meetings, community nights, and introduction and induction programs into democracy. Let us not wait to be wronged to find out what our rights are. Let us not wait for someone else to tell us what we can expect from our nation.
There must be at least a dozen international treaties and peace agreements to stop a foreign country from invading our nation. There are economical, political and practical considerations that act as check-points against military aggression from outside. But there is barely any force in our country powerful enough or effective enough today to prevent the disease gnawing her from within. Our nation is sick because the majority, to which she rightfully belongs, has abandoned her. If India was your spouse, your lover or your child, this is the moment when she asks, “How do you say you love me when you don’t even bother to know me.” What would you answer?
[Part 1 of 2.]
It is said that sexual awakening in a human baby happens when they realize there is a difference between their mother and their father. Apparently around the same time they also realize that they are more alike one than the other, thus acquiring a gender – a first step towards defining their identity. The recent Anna Hazare led anti-corruption/Jan Lok Pal demonstration had a similar effect on me. My political being, comfortable and snug in a state of blissful ignorance, woke up with a start to the vociferous pro and anti voices on the now favorite national subject that seemingly engulfed all things living in the country. Swept off by the tide of popular sentiment and tumbling along I found the contours of my nebulous political existence sharpen. Political awakening had begun. Almost involuntarily.
Some may say that this whole political awakening thing might have come a trifle too late in my life. I’d wholeheartedly and with vigorous head-nodding agree with them wise men and women. For I have been of legal voting age for the last five assembly elections that shaped and reshaped our national destiny. However, it happened to me is not the significant point here. This isn’t, say, a Bodhisattva moment either in scope or manner. I don’t see it as news that people everywhere would welcome with open arms and rejoice in the hope of the greater good to come. What happened to me is just a small shift in attitude (which, as a child, used to happen to me spontaneously with a rap on the knuckles) – my mind made a move from total indifference towards my political ignorance (it’s permanent address till now) to its shiny new dwelling known as ‘interested wonderment at our political process.’ Not of any interest, any consequence or any delight whatsoever to anyone except, maybe, me. Unless I throw a house-warming party and there’s an open bar to celebrate it.
Yet, in a democratic country like ours, where the sanctity of public elections and the hope it offers to the citizens rests on the precept ‘Every Vote Counts,’ a single citizen’s political awakening, however small, acquires a wicked national significance. As a voter who was politically illiterate and absolutely indifferent to that fact through not one, nor two, but five assembly elections, my newly awakened political consciousness raises a genuine question at our national conscience – what was really counted when my vote was counted in these past five elections? Did my right to vote even when politically ignorant violate the rights of my more enlightened fellow citizens to have a fair, just and honest government? And that, my good friend, is the significance of my small and otherwise insignificant personal deja vu in the context of a democratic nation.
‘Suhaag Raat’ and the Indian Voter
Social Activists and specialists on the subject of violence against women say that a large number of Indians approach their ‘Suhaag Raat’ (First Night) with no real understanding of what sex is. This ignorance, they point out, is often the reason for the escalating problems of violence, rape, unwanted pregnancies and HIV AIDS in married couples. If there are political theorists or social scientists or some other interested group studying political illiteracy among Indian voters and its implications on the largest democracy in the world, I can only imagine the heinous crimes they will charge me with. ‘I didn’t know’ would be the only honest explanation I have to offer, and I know that hasn’t yet saved me from being fined for entering even empty, and often unmarked one-ways from the wrong side. Ever.
The fact that someone approaches their conjugal bed without adequate knowledge of sex does not mean they have not done it. They may have done it many times over. They may even have done it with different partners, in different locations, in different degrees of desperation, and also, with different levels of ignorance – not so much as to the how of it as much as to the why and what. When I mentioned this to a friend of mine, he, partly in jest, exclaimed, “That’s impossible! In the land of Kamasutra, there are no sexually ignorant adults! Or teenagers!” While it sure was an attempt at being funny, the very assumption he based his joke on underlines the point I am making. The average adult among us believes that one is an expert on the subject of sex if he or she has read Kamasutra. That’s like claiming to understand automobile engineering because you read the user manual in your car. For Kamasutra is only a ‘how to’ manual – a textbook on the different sexual positions that can be used to pleasure your partner. And sex, in a marriage or any serious romantic relationship, is never just about pleasure.
While taking my first unsure baby-steps in the realpolitik of our nation, my already prevalent sense of confusion was heightened by a question: What is more important to us – sex or politics? Sex existed much before we decided to become civilized and orchestrate governed societies. It is hardwired into us at a biological level for the continuation of our species. And quite unlike politics, sex delivers instant gratification at an individual level. Plus, without sex soon there would be no need for politics. So I’d say, given a choice, both at the personal and social level, we’d root for sex than we’d do for politics. That is, if we applied the democratic principle of majority vote to help us decide who rules us, sex would win the poll hands down any day. Of course, it would be a victory made possible by a lot of voters who, as the social activists and the specialists tell us, have a rather limited understanding of the candidate himself. Much like real life elections in our country. Interestingly enough it isn’t just sex and politics that win in-spite of popular ignorance. We seem to make other pivotal life choices with great impunity and very little knowledge. Pivotal life choices like marriage and child rearing.
Some of you may argue that sex, and family are quite unlike politics. You may say politics is a man-made institution. So is marriage, I’d add. And let us all remember that man-made rules guide sex and parenting too in a civilized world. Now, an argument may be made for our callous approach to understanding the three predominantly private affairs – sex, marriage, and child rearing. We can say that as humans we are endowed with a natural instinct to perform these actions. Copulation, Compassion and Care are evolutionary imperatives in our biological makeup. We can accept this as adequate justification for our ‘monkey see, monkey do’ behavior only if we accept that the standard of Man’s sex life, marriage and role as parents (even today) is on par with that of his counterparts’ in the animal kingdom. For science is yet to prove Man’s instincts as superior to those of animals. Plus, all our significant life choices are still made by the ‘caveman’ in us is no credit to modern Man, and casts a long, dark shadow of disappointment on the whole theory of civilization which inspires us to wear shoes, follow table manners, and fight for the right of ‘How are you?’ to be a conversation starter.
If you look closely at our society, you’d notice that human beings in general seem to prefer what I call a state of ‘intellectual abstinence’ towards their biggest life choices. The greater their relevance and impact on his life, the harder Man holds on to this logic-defying vow of not using his mind. He is not to be blamed though. The fact is our whole culture’ and the very concept of it rests on the ‘monkey see, monkey do’ premise. Having sex, getting married, having children, voting for democratic governance are all part of that culture, and none of these actions ever meets with the question ‘why?’ Like a preapproved credit card or loan, these actions somehow are felt to be preapproved and hence merit no inquiry. Our understanding of ‘why sex, why marriage, why children, why government’ are formed and formulated, consciously and subconsciously, by myths, movies, and popular media which make our motives while acting on them a cultural inheritance. When we accept this impish historical imperative of ‘intellectual abstinence,’ and ‘inherited motives’ that exemplify stereotypical mass movements (which includes sex, marriage and child rearing), it becomes easy to accept that government of, for, and by an enlightened majority in India is and will remain an utopia. We might as well wait for the day every adult in India is sexually educated before coitus.
Our democracy isn’t what democracy is made out to be in our school textbooks. It definitely does not live up to the promises we are told it will. However, the justification that political science is not realpolitik is unacceptable. A marriage that produces more suffering, pain and sorrow than its promised ideal of joy, companionship and personal growth isn’t the reality of marriage. What is man-made can be altered, improved, and redesigned to make sure it embraces life and enables those values that make life worthwhile. Be it an ideology or an institution.
— End of part 1 of 2 —
Some days it’s hard for me to say anything. It is as if the reason to speak disappears along with the means. Any common ground that might have existed between me and the world vanishes from under my feet like an iceberg in the sea. And I fall into a dark world – it’s silent and really cold. Stunt emotions and frozen ideas hang on to me like dead weight, pulling me further and further down into the womb of an unfathomable terror. I am once again alone.
I have been here before. I have drowned and survived to say so. Yet, past experiences do not make the present more bearable or less fearful. If at all, the cumulative memories only add to the sense of helplessness and anger in me. They destroy all sense of power and control over the moments of my life. I look into the eerie silence surrounding me and it echoes in my being.
‘Are you alright?’ I hear someone ask me.
I try not to look at their face. I am afraid they will see the fury rising in my eyes. Do you know that a seemingly innocent conversation can get you killed? If you keep asking me some more of these ‘concerned’ questions, I myself will do it.
In a different world, at a different time, I would have thought of a dozen different ways to greet you. Right now, I just want to try and avoid the ordeal of dealing with words. I find none that I can offer you. Human interaction is beyond me. Even the simplest ‘hello’ is replaced in my soul by a silence so heavy I can only but drown in this never-ending sea.
I close my eyes tightly. There are a hundred different voices, cackling like birds, talking about weather, office politics, rising prices, weight loss, the designer label that was launched last nite… On and on they pour into my consciousness the burning lava of futility, and frustration. I see infanticide of dreams. My head spins. I need to say something. A ‘No!’ would suffice but I can’t find it. I can find nothing inside of me. No words, no meaning, no conscious choice except a boiling rage. It does not want to destroy the voices, or the world that gives them birth. No, it wants to destroy me for being so helpless against that world. It offers me no options The silence within me is mercurial and merciless.
I am not a killer. I swim deeper into the darkness, away from the world that makes me so angry. The silence follows me.