Saturday, May 06, 2006

When Life Gets Surreal

Was feeling kind of sad yesterday evening. And even as I became aware of it, I saw how little most people like to acknowledge feelings like sadness. How we mostly cover it up with jokes, with hectic activity or in numerous other ways. I couldn’t quite figure out what made me feel like that yesterday – kind of down. Maybe it was the cloudy sky which greeted me during my daily sunset meditation. Or generally thinking of the world. Maybe it was Arun K’s phone call early in the evening. He had called after ages. Back presumably from shooting some film other.
“I’m feeling so old,” he starts in a morose tone of voice and just as I begin to chuckle, he hastens to explain that it has not so much to do with the body, but more to do with the mind. Not being able to quite cope with the outside world any more and the cult of violence, "and Indians being so bloody uncaring – they don’t give a damn about anything." He sounds more and more depressed by the second.

A couple of hours later, as I sit watching the dark clouds piling up in the sky, Parvati hands me a mug of tea. "Looks like rain", she says, and I nod. “Quite true.” She says aggressively as if she had not spoken a word and I am talking to myself “WHAT IS TRUE?!!” This is definitely not a day for smiles. She looks moodily around and stomps off and I ask myself what kind of day must have had, to sound like that.

Then I think about the photos of the Mahajan family splashed in the press these last few days and the crying wife and his daughter and the aged mother weeping at the funeral. I also think of the smug looking brother who looks quite pleased at having “goli chalaoed” his sibling and it occurs to me, how surrealistic life is becoming. It's not just about one brother gunning down another. (Actually what is it that makes a crime by a blood brother seem so much worse than a crime committed against any human being by any other – considering in some remote way we are all related!)

The surrealistic feel is augmented by the thought of the brother who was shot. And I ask myself is any of this real ? Are politicians real? Is there really a live person behind the cardboard cut outs you see on the roads, towering over us at election time? Do those pasty smiles come from a human being? When the people in magazines and movies start to seem more real in fact than your own friends and neighbours you do wonder what is happening to the world.


Then for some reason, I think back to two women I had casually happened to see out of a moving car a few hours earlier. One, walking down the road in a bright yellow sari with a plastic shopping bag in her hand. She looked like she’d been out buying groceries. The other emerged from a building, and walked towards a taxi across the road. The woman in the yellow sari had a very ordinary face and wore spectacles. She had a string of mogra in her hair. The other woman had red-gold dyed hair and wore a fashionable salwaar kameez – a designer brand no doubt. And I must say it was the woman with the mogra in her hair whom I found a more comforting sight. Somehow the groceries in her hand and the flowers in her hair made me feel a bit more alive and real myself.

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1 comment:

Stardust1954 said...

“I’m feeling so old,” he starts in a morose tone of voice and just as I begin to chuckle, he hastens to explain that it has not so much to do with the body, but more to do with the mind. Not being able to quite cope with the outside world any more and the cult of violence, "and Indians being so bloody uncaring – they don’t give a damn about anything." He sounds more and more depressed by the second.

This sounds a lot like the things I heard my grandfather say. He would talk about how bad the world was getting and how no one seemed to care about anything. Now that my husband and I are into our 50s we are sounding more and more like my grandfather. I stopped to ask myself recently "are things really getting worse or do we just get weary of hearing about the violence, the political debates, the chaos, etc in the world?"

And I must say it was the woman with the mogra in her hair whom I found a more comforting sight. Somehow the groceries in her hand and the flowers in her hair made me feel a bit more alive and real myself.

I know what you mean.