"Life is the price we pay for running away from death "
































































Wisdom - Nihilism - Divinity

He used to save money in every way that he could, not even a penny would be ignored. He was saving it all up so that one day he could pay Munna, the local rowdy, and get Rajesh beaten up.

Rajesh was the gym instructor who had recently shifted to his area. Several of his friends had seen Rajesh getting too friendly with his wife on several occasions. He hated Rajesh for it, but given Rajesh's good built, he never dared to confront him.
 
It killed him every day not having the courage to face Rajesh, yet he never dared to admit this to his wife. He did not want to make confessions and downgrade his manliness. He had tried vague excuses to stop his wife from going to the gym, but she did not seem to get the hint.
 
At one point, she had even mockingly replied, "Why do you act like you don't like me going to the gym? Are you scared I will run away with someone there?" and she had punched his tummy.
 
He knew his wife only meant it as a joke, and that she was never even thinking of leaving him. He was her "man". He had provided her with everything a woman needed to live a comfortable life. And, with every passing day, he would bask in the feeling of manliness, of being able to "be the man" for his wife. With Rajesh's shifting, the basking had stopped...
 
Every time his wife would ask him what he was saving the money for, he would just quip, "For an important plan I am making honey! I have a dream and I am saving up for it. I will tell you when it's the right time" and he would gently poke her breast to change her mood and distract her mind.
 
He would never mention his actual plan to his wife. Alas, how could he? Who would ever respect a husband that could not himself stand up for his wife, and needed some local rowdy to cover for him? On many nights he would question God why it had to be him. His friends had pretty wives too, and why wouldn't this bloody Rajesh fall for their wives? Never mind God's plans.. Anyway, what mattered to him was how his wife saw him, and with his growing savings and a bit of Munna's help, he was sure to maintain the "manly" stand in his wife's eyes.
 
Then, one day, a spanner was thrown into his plans.
 
His mother-in-law suffered a mild cardiac arrest and needed expensive treatment. Wife broke down and wept profusely. Their insurance policy did not cover the critical treatment. He was in a fix on how to arrange the money. He had a savings stocked up, but it was for Munna's payment. Moreover, how often does a son-in-law spend his life's savings for his in-laws? More so, when the treatment did not even promise successful results.
 
Finally, with a lot of hesitation and anguish, he approached his wife with the offer to fund the treatment with his savings. He had hoped she would reject it. She did not. Rather she just offered a consolatory note, "don't worry about your dream dear. We will earn the money back and still fulfil your dream..."
 
The savings was dismantled and treatment started. Friend and relatives came visiting and were overwhelmed with appreciation for the son-in-law gesture. And every time the wife looked at him with ever more love-filled eyes, he would reciprocate the love, but his heart wept at the thought of having missed the chance to eliminate Rajesh.
 
With anguish building up over time, one evening he excused himself from the wife and relatives and drove to a bar far away to sit alone and drink all night.
 
That very night, Rajesh secretly visited the hospital. "How is your mother?" he asked the wife.
 
"She is doing much better now," replied the wife.
 
"So dear, this time when you mother gets well, tell her everything about us," begged Rajesh, "I left my IT job in the US and became a fake gym instructor just for you. I can't wait like this anymore, my love. You have to leave that coward and marry me. You know he is a coward, don't you?"
 
"Rajesh, please!" she interrupted, "I used to think that way for some time. But over the past few days, he did something for which I can never repay all my life. My husband sacrificed his dream for my happiness.. how much more manliness can I ask for?" she continued sobbing, "Rajesh, it's over between us now. Please don't wait for me anymore. Just leave!"
 
Rajesh turned around, started his bike and drove away.. to some bar far outside the city where he would drink to forget a missed chance to get his love back; the same bar where another man drank and wept over a chance he missed to protect his manliness.
 
One often finds one's destiny in the path one takes to avoid it - Master Oogway.
Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.
- Ravindra Nath Thakur

For the most part, our society treats children the way a gardener treats his plants
 
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He is a seed and I am going to sow him in a pot. She is another seed and I shall sow her in another pot. I am the world and I am going to reap the fruit that comes out of them.
 
They say as one sows, one shall reap. It better work that way. I have plans for the seeds I sow; they better not reap anything else other than what I sow.
 
I assign the pots and I sow the seeds as I, the gardener, see fit. I have designs and plans, and the harvest shall be as per those notions. They are, in fact, seeds of my expectations.
 
He, the seed, is a particular type of fruit, and he shall grow up to give that exact same fruit. She, the seed, will grow to give exactly another. They call it the law of Nature - a mango seed will always bear a mango fruit, never another. Whatever fancy names or laws they wanna call it...
 
I shall provide them fertile ground, and water them everyday, and let them bask in the sunlight. I believe they have fancy names for it too. They call the ground as society, the water as culture, and sunlight as knowledge. I hear they have built great theories and philosophies about each of it, especially the sunlight. It tickles me how innocent they are - they have no idea how much the sunlight plays games with them...
 
For what it's worth, I don't mind them playing their games. Poor little seeds - they need some entertainment while they bide their time growing up. I let them play.. as long as they keep growing and bearing the fruit that I have deemed them to!
 
 
 
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On a bright summer afternoon, amidst the vivid crowd of a bustling metropolis, Arjun walked up the stairs to the terrace of a posh hotel he had been staying for the past week. When he reached the top, he paused to catch a glimpse of the city - to absorb the fabricated reality of the urban landscape all around him and to pick on its verdant randomness that had been so much taken for granted. His stomach felt uneasy.

Arjun took a moment to recall a jibe he had shared with an uncle of his. The joke never failed to ease him up. "Uncle, what would happen if an earthquake were to hit our city right now?" he had asked of his uncle. And uncle had replied, "Oh! not much difference my son. Other than a few perfect corners broken out of shape, our city cannot get any worse than what it already is..." and the both of them had laughed all afternoon. They had even shared a beer while at it. The joke made Arjun laugh again, and also made him wonder how reality had embraced (read: enraptured) us in its arms of happenstance and inevitability.

He had missed his uncle so much. And that is why he was here, on the terrace of the same hotel where his uncle was seen alive for the last time.

Arjun stood still and tried to feel his uncle's presence, but all he sensed was traffic honks and gusts of smoky wind. It was a bright sunny day with not a cloud in the sky. The sun burnt down upon Arjun and, in the distraction of the city, he missed feeling his uncle's warmth in the sun's rays.

After ten minutes of silent contemplation, Arjun walked up to the parapet wall, climbed on it, clicked a selfie and posted it on his Facebook account, took a deep breath and jumped to his death.

2 hours later:

News of the suicide spread all over the Internet and reactions poured in. "Such a bright boy, what was the need for him to do it?" wondered one friend. "He had no pains or complaints. His parents gave him such a comfortable upbringing. Why would be do something so foolish?" posed another. "Some kids are pampered so much that they don't have any idea of the real suffering.. " commented some, "they take some trivial issue and kill themselves over it." "Yeah," agreed another, "like that girl who killed herself because people did not like her profile picture."

And then the tweeple, the beliebers, the face-bookers and all the keyboard warriors jumped in.. "These kids of today have no idea how to appreciate what they have.." "his parents gave him such a comfortable life and see what he gives them in return.." "there are so many people out there like the blind, the deaf, the handicapped, who continue to live with so much courage... what was wrong with this boy?.. So healthy, fit and fine he was.."  "he insulted all the blessings that life had endowed upon him.. "

several months ago:

Arjun's uncle had gone missing after being last seen at the hotel on the sea-front. There was no trace of him. Uncle was a social worker, fighting for the suffering and marginalized, and he had made some enemies in that pursuit. Some people talked that the mafia had kidnapped and murdered his uncle. It had left Arjun distraught - his uncle was the one good friend he had had.

Then, unable to give up, Arjun had ventured into the forbidden parts of the city in search of his uncle. He had felt an invisible push that had shoved him out of his house. It was a push, not a pull, so quite certainly it wasn't his uncle working invisibly upon him. So Arjun ambled around, walking into dark spaces, empty alleys and neglected nooks of the city. On some days he went into the slums, some days he walked the markets and bazaars, he even visited many hospitals and several police stations. Other times he would sit at the beach and blankly watch the waves, or walk upon the train tracks from one railway station to another.

Rarely sometimes he even visited the malls, but not the front and showy side, rather he went around to the back where the garbage would be dumped, where the noisy air-conditioners hummed and spluttered and spewed hot air, where the distraught walls with peeling paint and the dripping toilet pipes spoke the story of abject human carelessness, where the pariah children of men and dogs played hide and seek. Maybe Arjun had hoped to find his uncle there (because uncle had cared about such forgotten spaces). He never knew what pushed him to be there though...

On evening walks on the city streets, Arjun saw the crowd rushing to get back home. Tired bodies and confused minds seeking their place of rest, jostling and hustling in its pursuit. It was an explosion of colour and life undergirded by tragedy and apathy. Handicapped beggars crying for help, encroached stalls fighting for space, mongrels and calves sleeping in their own shit, open drains and dilapidated pavements gaping at the sky, buildings bearing dusty and cracked facades, and ugly overambitious posters vying for attention. Arjun saw that the rushing sea of people noticed neither the vibrancy of the streets nor the murk they were walking in. They were just walking past like zombies. Were they blind to all this? Yes, maybe they chose to be! Such was the world we lived in that it befitted only the blind. The ones with eyes - the ones who see - have no place in it.

People spitting and littering all over. They surely must be blind, not to see the mess they were causing.

He saw the traffic moving at snail's pace; the cacophony of honks blaring with no purpose other than to vent out the owners' angst. What else are they honking for? They know the traffic won't move any faster. Potholed roads; Inappropriate, insufficient or missing traffic signs; bovine speed-breakers; haphazard pedestrians; opportunist traffic cops looking to snare some quick bucks all ensured the traffic was never in smooth flow. The streets of Arjun's city were not for the able-bodied. He saw pedestrians limping across uneven pavements, skipping over open drains; he saw motorists dragging their feet along with their vehicles. Were they all physically challenged? Yes, maybe that is what they have ended up being. Such a world that does not allow space and avenue for the human body to fully express itself; The able human body has no place in it.

He saw people driving awkwardly - left shoulder lifted high and heads bent sideways trying to balance their cell-phones and talking while they drive. They surely must be handicapped, for they do not seem to be so inclined to avoid such funny postures.

Arjun observed the absolute cacophony on the streets. The blaring vehicle horns, the spattering and cranking of engines, the loudspeakers at various shops, cries of beggars, whistles of the policemen and loud calls of auto and cab drivers. He wondered how everyone ever so casually walked around in this discordant medley. Nobody seemed to be getting disturbed or irritated by the constant stream of dissonant voices. Were they all deaf? Yes, maybe they are! Such a world that does not seem to realize the vocal aberration it is creating must surely be deaf. In such a world someone with proper auditory skills has no place.

He saw a few men playing random songs on their cell-phone loudspeaker. They surely must be deaf, for they do not realize how stupid it is to play a song that others don't want to listen.

Back to the present:

All the months of confused questioning had finally brought Arjun to the seafront hotel. He had come looking for his uncle, for he wanted answers which only his uncle could give. It was a push, not a pull that had brought him to the hotel. His quest for answers was the push. As he walked up the stairs, on to the terrace, and as the sunlight beamed upon him, a vague peace settled into Arjun's mind. It was like the questions troubled him no more, for the answer lay right in front of him. He climbed up the parapet wall, looked down at the ground far below, felt the whiff of breeze caressing all over his body and waited for the final push. Meanwhile, he took a deep breath and clicked some selfies for his Facebook wall.

Then the push came.. the final and redemptive one. The one that lifted him and helped him escape from a world he did not belong. This world was not for Arjun whose senses were all working fine. It was a world meant for the blind, the deaf, and the physically handicapped. By continuing to live, Arjun was, in fact, using the resources that were meant for the blind, the deaf, and the physically challenged. It was not right of him to use up resources not meant for him. Hence, the push that threw him off the building.

It was a push for justice. The push that delivered justice both to the world and to Arjun. Firstly, justice to the blind, the deaf, and the physically handicapped who got their resources back from Arjun; and secondly, justice to the able-body that Arjun had been gifted with but which had been mistakenly sent to the wrong world.

Arjun did not die by carelessly disregarding his able-bodied self; he died exactly because he ever so consciously regarded his able-bodied self.


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In memory of Arjun Bharadwaj, with whom I might have shared a momentary thanatological connection.



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