Thursday, October 20, 2005


Even now, they take me by surprise. The questions, I mean. After all these years of constant confrontation, of retorting with unambiguous answers and convincing arguments, they still come back, a renewed vengeance in their voice, a sadistic purpose underpinning their queries.
Every person I know has his/her questions. Questions that appear superfluous, but deep down, the answers they demand define the purpose of one's existence, answers that will shed light on the remainder of one's days on this planet. Some people are unfortunate - they are only too aware of what these questions are, and the nature of the answers that are needed to counter; while some are lucky enough to spend their days in a state of blissful ignorance. And some others are so scared, they seek refuge in outright denial.
Quite often it doesn't matter to me what these questions are. The only worthy consequence of having to face these questions day after day is the struggle that they cause on the inside. A struggle that is fuelled, rather than suppressed, by the stop-gap answers that I'm enlightened with from time to time. Because an answer often means the mushrooming of more questions, and I find myself back at square one. And it's this constant question-and-answer cycle that has resulted in an evolution of my psyche. More so in the past year or so.
I remember saying in one of my earliest posts that it's the simple things that I find difficult. I think it's because of this need to justify everything to myself -- even the tiniest of acts. And it's precisely during this process of trying to reason out my motives that my questions take form. And what was until then a simple act becomes a moral monster. Because I would know that I was wrong if I erred in weakness.
It gets tiring at times, this search for answers. Mind-numbing too. And it's changing me, slowly but surely. I've begun to scare myself these days. When an answer is denied or when the solution-seeking process is lengthy, out comes this mask I wear to shield myself from the world until the puzzle makes itself clear. And I'm getting good at this mask game, and this is what scares me. I can be anything that I want; I can be anything that others want me to be, expect me to be. And I shift between the two with such consummate ease that it scares others too. I can see it in their eyes whenever the real me takes over from the fake me.
Case in point: I've always hidden the rebel in me from my family. I've played along as this nice kid who would never give his parents sleepless nights. But last Sunday, he came out. Had to, I guess, in hindsight. We were at this meeting where a discussion on should-parents-be-emotionally-dependent-on-their-kids-in-this-age suddenly turned into a heated argument over arranged-marriages, duty, obligation, freedom, independence, dating, live-in relationships etc etc. And being one of only three participants under 30 (the other two were my brother and sister) , I was asked to voice my opinions on the issue. My sister had just made an insular argument, while my brother chose to follow the silence-is-better-than-valour route.
Now, at home, I'm the youngest of three. And some time ago, I realized that I was never going to be taken seriously. Another reason, why I never rebelled - because there was no reason to rebel! Anyway, never one to shy away from an intellectual war, I told the audience -- demographically on the wrong side of 50 -- in no uncertain terms about how I felt on all these issues. Needless to say, it was totally 'anti-establishment'. I spoke about everything that I'd never spoken to anyone at home about, because it was always thought I'd toe the familial line. I could see my arguments drop like bombs on the audience. Uproar ensued. Vehement counter-arguments were issued forth. But I held my own, and stood the tide. But that was not to be the end of it. Like I said the real me took over and it scared everyone, including my mom -- especially because I said parents should learn to let go of their kids, and not hold on to them for emotional support, and instead make something out of the rest of their lives. On the way back and for the whole of that day, my mom and sister looked at me like I was a stranger whom they didn't know. They kept talking in hushed tones, and would stop when they saw me approaching. Things improved the next day, and were back to normal the day after. I guess I finally broke out of the 'youngest child' mould.
Whatever I said in that forum is not new. Every principle I hold dear, every opinion that I voiced that day, has evolved out of this question-and-answer process. Every answer has been questioned thoroughly till I'm satisfied it is watertight. And this knowledge that I'm right and that others don't want to know they are wrong, is exactly why I'm forced to wear my masks. Because, at the end of the day, I prefer to play along -- as long as it is harmless -- than hurt people by showing them what they really are. And my questions will continue. Becasue the answers are -- at times -- not complete enough. Which reminds me, the earliest question that I had was whether I wanted knowledge or wisdom, and guess what I chose?
I'm aware that this blog is beginning to look like a diary these days. Maybe it's time to start a separate one...


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smita bs said...

do you belive that what we hold sacred in one point of our life is susceptible to change based on -ofcourse- wisdom? dont you think that you have made up your mind when today's world boasts of no universals...Derrida i suppose! ?

smita bs said...

i wrote the comment coz i couldn't think of u as...when ur other articles tells me how open u are to thought...tru wisdom is knowing that right is perhaps an opinion not an absolute...sorry for the boreeeeeeeeee!

musafir said...

smita bs

Apologies for the delayed reply. I didn't notice your comments coming in, this post being in the archives.

In response to your first comment, I do believe that the opinions and stances that one holds are very susceptible to change in the face of experience. It's not that one is not strong enough to hold on to one's ideals, just that age throws up a lot of other perspectives. In other words, I agree with you. My worldview is a little post-modern (at least, from what little I know about post-modernism) in that I don't believe in truth/right being an absolute. In fact, I wrote a post around the time when I was veering around towards post-modernism. It's called "Slow Poison". That might tell you what I think about certain things.

That said, I'm not entirely sure as to what part of this post made you feel I'm very rigid and not open to thought. If you can point that out, I'll be glad to clarify and we could take it from there.

As for the second comment, all thought is welcome and very precious to me. I don't believe in winning arguments/debates, just in understanding and evolving. Your comment -- any comment on this blog -- is taken very seriously. So, comment away :-).

Lazy Lavender said...

Well, could identify with the prefer-play-along part; but not the mask part. What is mask according to you? When it comes to sensitive issues in which my opinions do not concur with the conventional ones, I prefer to stay mum, unless openly asked. And I wouldn't call this as masking. To me, a mask would be something that is not me, but I adorn it from time to time because the real me could scare others.
This is a qsn I wanted an answer to. Is staying mum = putting on a mask?