Sunday, February 21, 2016
The Curse of Being Normal
It is a nightmare of every middle-class guy to remain normal throughout his life. You know what’s ahead of you already because there is a roadmap handed over to you the moment you finish your schooling. You cannot revolt against your parents because they have loved you from the day you were born and they will never even dream of forsaking you into this cruel world. They have fed you with “Expert Level” culture and values which can never be formatted from your soul. Your sibling will be your partner-in-crime for most of your crazy adventures and even withhold from partaking in some of them.
It’s when you hit puberty and certain hormones in your body begin to screw your system. That’s ‘Phase 1’ of entering WTF. You start feeling the cactus in your crotch, butterflies in your stomach and many other things in many other places. You just don’t share it all. Obviously, yours is a typically orthodox and reserved family and they don’t talk about sex with children. They tend to keep you away from watching James Bond movies and reading Shades of Grey. Depriving a teenager from what’s to be told is what triggers the curiosity even more. Almost every boy in his school days has had a crush on his female teacher and has fantasized about her. That’s when the co-ed schools are supposed to rescue you. But instead, what they do is fast forward the “Life Process” part in the biology class leaving us wondering what the hell is wrong with our body. Of course, they did pass us in that particular subject even if we gave wrong answers. They were too shy to openly explain the right answers to us then. Most of the times they felt that we were doing this on purpose, but one cannot blame the school if the entire education system is flawed.
Growing older and away from friends has its own merits and demerits. You get rid of friends you never wanted to be with and on the flipside; you get away from your best friends and your childhood crush to whom you never expressed your love (Middle-Class Values – 1, Friendship – 0). You tried not to get very emotional and become a cry baby. Instead, you take a pen and start writing, pick a brush and start painting, choose a genre and start singing or playing an instrument. That’s ‘Level 2’ of adapting to WTF days. You don’t want to live like a child anymore and begin to think philosophically of what you want to do with your life. You crave for freedom and desire for love. This; to any human being at that particular age would seem perfectly normal. But, for a middle-class human being, your career journey has already been chalked out based on the assumption that you are good at something which has academic significance and has nothing to do with what you like. For instance, you have scored 100 out of 100 in a language subject, but failed terribly in physics. It is assumed that you will take up a career in fine arts or literature. “Hobbies” are not part of your career “was” the middle-class ideology then. ‘They just make you feel good; but they don’t feed you good enough’, was the inference. And, they were right then. A postmaster was paid better than a poet and that was the kind of job-security they expected us to have – a mediocre government job which you despise, chosen over your dream of becoming an artist.
That’s when you enter ‘Phase 3’ of The WTF Revolution. You want to live your life your way and you don’t want anyone to tell you what to do. You remotely hope that your parents will support you and out of nowhere, they somehow do – either willingly or unwillingly, they anyway support your choice and give you a statutory warning that, the doors to the mediocre jobs will be open for a limited period and whatever we do with our career, they will have the ‘Plan B’ ready. You somehow manage to excel in your passion and find a profession that appreciates it too. The next task is to convince your parents about how much you like working there even though they’re paying less. You begin to feel that the company loves what you do and they will consider you as the future asset (and they keep the ‘ET’ in ASSET silent and alienate you after a while). Because you have been a very good boy from your childhood with all those middle-class values such as honesty, integrity, discipline, self-respect, kindness, candour, everything begins to hinder your growth in that company (Middle-Class Values – 2, Career – 0). You try not to compromise with the values, but for the sake of feeding yourself and your ego, you sell your soul to The Corporate Satan (and don’t go by the initials; it’s just a coincidence). You feel incapable of handling the atrocities and politics that surround you and feel hostile with lumberjacks at every corner in every department who’s trying to cut you down. Finally, when you cannot take it anymore, you simply quit. You are the kind of person who’s not taught how to fight because you haven’t ever been in one. You are only taught that, “You are a middle-class person and you are not supposed to get into any kind of conflicts. If you’re being bullied, get out of there. They won’t bully you if you are not there. If your friend is being bullied, don’t try to be a hero. You’ll get your ass kicked instead. Ultimately, fighting is bad. And you’re a good boy, right?” (Middle-Class Values – 3, Courage – 0).
With such a defunct self when ‘Phase 4’ of The WTF Paralysis begins, you fall in love. You have no idea what to do with your future, and there she is – waiting to destroy you, waiting to put your pieces back together, waiting to annihilate you, waiting to complete you, waiting to confuse the hell out of you. You fall in love with a girl who shares the same chaos of life. You fall in love with a girl who has the same scars as you do. You fall in love with another middle-class girl. The greatest of all apocalypses waiting to happen is just one look and three words away from each other. You see her and think of a storm in the ocean, the most sensational symphony, the most mesmerizing beauty of nature, and the most treacherous peaks of The Himalayas. You see a reflection of yourself quivering in the mirror. That’s not what our parents taught us? That’s totally insane, and ridiculous. We are supposed to guard the stagnant water in the gutters; sing the same song every day; never look at the inauspicious rainbow; always travel on safe roads; never take risks; because we are middle-class people and cannot afford to be audacious with our lives (Middle-Class Values – 4, Love – 0).
The phases of WTF will go on as long as we put a leash on it. A friend of mine rightly said, “If the parents have given birth to us, doesn’t mean that they have the right to control our life. They are entitled to all the love and respect which we will give without asking. But, if they try to enforce their decisions on us, we won’t take it.” You are free to treat them as Gods, but you are also free to consider them as the Devil, if they try to control you. It is entirely at your discretion to give them a place in your life as they have given to you in theirs. Though they might have been harsh, stubborn, totally mindless at sometimes, in the end, the values that your parents have taught you will hit them like a boomerang.
In their old age, they’ll let you be; they will let you accomplish everything that you ever wanted; they will unleash you and set you free because they will know what you will become if you are controlled. They will desire the same freedom from you after their retirement. They would not want to sit at home and chant mantras of salvation. They would want to live their life free from everyone. No more family functions; no more fighting with their spouses (if they are alive); no more festival food (courtesy: diabetes and hypertension) and no more people around (because they often piss you off). (Middle-Class Values – 5, Life – 0).
Finally, all they will be left is with themselves pondering over their middle-class values and how can they be revised and passed on to the future generation. But, guess what! The future generation needs to settle some scores. We love ourselves as much as we love our family. We need to break the stereotype of the middle-class life. And it cannot be done by being normal. Loving a person from another caste or another state doesn’t make you a heretic. Taking up an unusual job that you love, doesn’t make you less respectable. Getting into fights and beating up (not to death) someone who deserves it, doesn’t make you a felon. Parents have their opinions about being good-cultured and we have our own definition. It doesn’t mean we have to part our ways. It only means either of us has to be reasonable enough to coexist and to ceasefire.