The Contortions Of Life

A beam of daylight shined through the window, waking him to a very regular scene at home; the day unfolded with his mum invoking her revered Gods she has never seen before, praying for forgiveness for the sins she’s never committed – with that began her daily drudgery; mornings come with an added trouble of getting ready for work. He, on the other hand, began his day reacting to posts on social media; wasting a significant part of his time knowing not the trivialities of it.

Mum-made breakfasts were his favourite meal and it was particularly good that morning. An Indian snack called rotti; it’s an Indian bread, so to call it. Halfway into his first bread, he saw a child – her uncombed tresses made a lousy display of her poverty – staring at him through the window, nibbling a groundnut as she keenly eyed his lavish breakfastShe smiled at him and he at her; her eyes fixed on the food he was eating, gesturing even to offer her own piece of food when asked. But her generous offer was too poor for his extremely orthodox granny. She showed her kindness by shooing the child away. ‘The kid looked famished!’ he rebuked, but his granny’s obstinate reply kindled an argument he’ll never win. ‘You pride too much and feel too little’ he said before leaving for work. It’s their beliefs and customs that’s brought about this imbalance. They count other lives lesser than their own, he thought. Many an occasional fray had made him immune to it. His idea was constantly rejected by his family, deeming his behaviour “uncanny”. He walked out of home minutes after being chastised for his impious stance against the unscrupulous schemes of the society. For although his own experiences were quite naive – he lived a life of solitude and tranquillity – his care for the world was too great. He made a rough start that day. 

Unlike his other days, his trip to the office that morning took quite an odd turn. He had trodden less than a few metres, when he saw a man, a lunatic by looks, picking food from a badly kept dustbin; making an abysmal display of his body; people were mocking him for his poor appearance. Walking barefoot, gnawing upon his collar, the man was denied a morsel of human kindness. He walked on, his sombre thoughts uninterrupted by the heavy traffic. His eyes were fixed on the street. Metres away he saw an ill-fed pup squealing in the cold winter morning. His dead parent lay yards away, hit by a motor vehicle or bitten by beasts, he did not know. The poor creature lay in front of a shrine; his entrails were removed. People watched and did nothing as the crows feasted upon him. Why, he thinks, why are people so cold-hearted and numb? Does nothing shake them from their idolatry and blindness towards suffering?

We ponder a lot about the purpose of life, he thinks, overlooking the sole purpose that entitles us to the state of the most evolved creature on earth. We’re lost in trying to understand the meaning of life; for life itself has no meaning, except that which we give to it if at all we do. What is man flying to achieve, he thinks, a momentary control over a fraction of a fraction of this earth? The temporariness of life is often misunderstood; jostling to covet things – even knowledge for that matter – that have little meaning in life. We’re prisoners in life and we do not know how to escape – in fact, we don’t want to. Monotonous life suits our fantasies and chains us to indiscreetness and insensibility on cruelty and malice; someway or the other, we do not want to risk our lives. We are fond of many things we like to possess, helping isn’t an option, let alone sharing.

The incidents haunted him for a long time. His head sank as if he was returning from a long day’s work, except, however, he had just arrived at his office. You alright?’ asked a colleague nudging him as he entered; he looked over his shoulder, his worried face grew pale. His fake smile did little to satiate his colleague’s concern. He opened his mouth, but he couldn’t speak. ‘I am fine’ he nodded and walked on.

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