Saturday, October 17, 2009
I was in a bit of a daze. C's voice was like a drone that refused to depart from my head; explicating something about an insipid law of thermodynamics. It was a constant stream of monotone I was trying in vain to shake off. Meanwhile beside me, a gentleman was enthusiastically elucidating how he and his ‘crew’ battered another crew in Maligaon. I expressed my regret at not being present and conveyed my spirited assurance that I would lend a hand next time anybody needed battering.
It was a nice autumn day. Everyone was quite cheerful; they had all received their papers and took a pathological delight in earnestly discussing the answers. I felt suffocated in the classroom. Lunch break felt like the (alleged) manna the Israelites received from the high heavens during the Exodus.
One of the few things I liked about school was that it was right beside the mighty Brahmaputra (yes, I realize what a clichéd term that is) with huge rocks on the banks. I really liked that place; I was drawn to it like Eve to the serpent. I remember back then there was a mongrel that used the place as his humble (sic) abode. I trudged along there and I told him about my day. He looked at me with languid interest as I pontificated about the utter irrelevance of everything happening to me to this point and the ragtag I had to share room space with. As always, he evinced his empathy for me by relieving himself on the school bus tire.
I often wondered if my apparent neurosis had any valid grounds. Then I realize - attempting to brand an experience into a mental disorder was a lame attempt at escapism. It implies an inability to confront and absolve an issue. Well, I do confront. How? By talking to random dogs in your free time? Well, I have a right to dissociate as I please. Yeah, I’m sure your desk lamp will be de-‘lighted’ to hear about your travails today. Ok, stop, both of you. Like the illusion of one disorder wasn’t enough. I didn’t want to saddle another one; MPD at that. Loser.
Fast forward a year. Summer, in short, was like that Metallica song. What seemed to be the soothing light at the end of the tunnel was just a freight train coming my way. Temporary injuries of course; I soon forgot about the crash. I remember a line from a Woody Allen movie which I’ve somehow never forgotten. According to the protagonist, life is divided into two categories: the horrible and the miserable. The horrible are the kind of people terminally affected with disease, blind, crippled, et al. It was the worst kind of living possible. The miserable are all the rest. Hence, people should be thankful they are miserable and not horrible. I loved the concept. When someone asks me to describe the last two years of high school, I have an upbeat reply at hand.
There was a short, rotund, utterly jovial, slightly naïve guy in our class with a slight moustache, a permanently frozen grin on his face and a comical stutter. Poor thing almost always got picked on for some alien reason. I liked to observe him because of something funny about him. Unlike any normal person, insults just bounced off him. He was so unperturbed that I made it a hobby of mine to delve into his psyche, categorically strip him of all ego defense mechanisms and watch him flounder, like a cruel little boy pulling the wings from a beetle. All this had no effect however. It was almost as if he did not require any defense mechanisms for his functioning: it was frightening. I was always greeted with the same huge grin every day and a friendly pat, no matter how harsh I was. The bloke was like a little masochistic beetle.
Fun times. So yes, maybe senior secondary wasn't entirely the Kafkaesque dystopia I was making it out to be, although thinking of it in those terms makes me strangely exultant and misanthropic at the same time. There wasn’t much to be done about it though; freight train drivers have the luxury of momentum. It was a learning experience, albeit in a boringly redundant and wasteful way. I suppose it all comes down to what you make of the situation. You can either look at it as misery (and as a logical progression, be grateful) or shrug off all attacks to the ego with a morbid grin. It is vaguely similarly to Kafka’s paradox of Paradise. After all, Adam’s first domestic pet after his expulsion from Paradise was the serpent.