The Machine

Who am I? I am not talking philosophy. I mean who am I to certain people, like my parents? Their son? Mmm… nope. The other day my aunt came and said something about my good results. I said how does that describe me? She said you know, good results means a good job. She stopped there. The meaning didn’t. The meaning went on to say and that means good money. Yeah, that’s what I am in their eyes.

Every society, be it prehistoric, ancient, modern, tribal or civilized develops certain peculiarities over time, peculiarities that only stand out as peculiarities to anyone who does not belong to that type of society, anyone who hasn’t been in the society long enough to forget the peculiarity of the peculiarity. There’s cannibalism, although that’s not too strange a practice, and then there are tribal rituals, Egyptian myths, formalities, punks, you name it. Well, my society has a few of its own. One that would not be irrelevant in this context is the ‘good boy/girl’ epithet.

Everywhere you look, you’ll find only them being talked about, referred to while arguing with a reluctant student, admired in social gatherings. They are the ones who had good results in school, — but I’m not complaining about that — got a nice good well-paid job, most likely as a doctor or an engineer, and made good money. And, well, that’s about it, folks. Then they die, and leave nothing behind in peoples’ lives, leave nothing at all except a good record at school which no one will mind looking up after he’s dead because he isn’t around to be praised any more, a good job where the employers have already forgotten him, and good money that is no longer his, money that can no longer earn any credit for the dead him in the living world, that cannot make people remember him, because that would be too much of a job for money. And I keep wondering why people admire these good boys and girls. Maybe because they want to see their child grow up like that, having good grades in school, and a well-paid job. And trust me when I say that here in India the people who want that sort of life for their children are not few in number.

And well, I am left wondering, what of life? Does anyone of these people know what they have been living this far? It’s not a life, is it? Surely not. Neither the parents nor the good girls and boys know what that word means. I once saw a Border Roads Organization sign on a mountain road that said: ‘Stop existing and start living.’ Yeah, that’s what this is. Existence. Dragging yourself through each day to make sure there comes a tomorrow, never stopping to think that there is no point in dragging out another tomorrow from the treasury of life: you are only going to spend it trying to make sure there is again a tomorrow to that. Then why do this at all? What does it amount to at the end? Nothing. Yeah, you heard me. Your existence amounted to nothing. You had a nice record at school, got a rich job at an international company and made so much money that you sometimes didn’t know what to do with it, and felt so satisfied at the feeling, telling yourself all the while ‘See, I got so much money now that I have reached the point of not knowing what to do with it.’ And yet you left the world as you had entered, empty of all but your self, the most precious thing, the only thing, and the thing you forgot to nourish amidst all the hullabaloo about terms called results, job, money and looking good to all the people, looking good and normal and ‘successful’ so that they could nod their pathetic heads and murmur words of approval about you. You have led an existence, not a life.

So here’s a word that goes out to every one of those girls and boys who could never earn the attribute ‘good’ to come and stick itself to your ass, but all the same knew more, much, much more about life than all the good boys and girls: you know who you are, and you are rare and precious. What’s more, you are alive, and that’s the rarest and most precious thing to have sticking to your ass.  It’s a pity the ‘successful’ people don’t know that, but that’s their reward for being only successful and nothing else. And you, yeah I’m talking to you now, don’t lose yourself. Don’t get lost in the crowd and become just another of those indistinguishable heads that swim in the sea of success and gulp mouthfuls of approval and admiration and complement till they can breathe no more, and suffocate and drown, their influences as nonexistent as their existence was mechanical, like the machines they were through the course of their existence. You are you, and I think that means a lot.



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