Chapter : 1
The Food Security Bill is due for passage in the monsoon session of the Parliament. There is a group of economists and corporate lobbyists who are opposing this bill and terming it as the handiwork of the poverty industry. I am a bit amazed by the term: Poverty Industry. What does it represent: A commercial organization that runs on and around poverty? Can there be a commercial organization which can make benefits and profits out of poverty? It is a bit bizarre to think of such an organization. One can imagine activists and organizations in support of the causes of the poor, but lobbyists for the poor are unheard of and unthinkable.
These economists and corporate lobbyists in my mind have created an imaginary monolith and termed it as poverty industry to spread their venom. They have a separate agenda. They are essentially propagators of a development agenda which thrives on industrialization, urbanization, commodization and institutionalization of man’s existence.
You may ask me: Whether I am a supporter of the Food Security Bill? I do not understand the complexities of such bills, but what I do understand is that the Indian population needs a legislation that guarantees them two square meals. Surprisingly, there is a lot of debate surrounding: what is a full meal, what is a nutritious meal, and what causes satisfaction of hunger and what causes malnourishment. You could eat a meal that satisfies your hunger comprising hundred percent carbohydrates, but that does not suffice your requirement of nourishment which also requires proteins and vitamins.
There are Government statistics to show that the number of people going hungry is reducing; there are Government statistics to show that the number of people going malnourished is increasing and there are Government statistics to show that people who are not being able to access minimum requirement of food is also increasing. Which statistics should be considered and which should not, depends on what is your agenda. For example, urbanization and industrialization itself are under attack from the point of view of sustainable use of land for agricultural purposes and long-term sustenance of the environment. There are propagators of zero development economies which sound very attractive on paper, but nobody is willing to return to such economies because of the huge scale of sacrifices that are required to be made to achieve such societies and communities and most importantly the powerful oligarchy of the corporate tsars would oppose such a gravitation tooth and nail.
My father used to sell complex pumps. He sold well, reached his targets on time and got himself paid performance bonuses of capital proportions. In a way, I can say that I come from a privileged affluent family. My father was a strict disciplinarian, almost bordering on madness. He would only push me for my studies and would not allow me to play a game of football, which I dreamt of almost day and night. My mother was a trained classical singer, but my father would not allow her to sing outside of home. He did not even allow a male musical teacher to come near my mother. He was an extremely weak and insecure man as I can understand today remembering the ways he used to deal with us. He traveled very rarely with us, although he would be away on his sales and marketing trips all around the country.
What I am grateful to him is: the marketing techniques that I must have inherited from him. In his later years, he was given into melancholy. He would use sleeping pills to induce sleep and remain cut off from reality. It was then during those weak moments of his that my mother and one of my uncles would beat him up with broom sticks. I do not know why I used to feel sorry for this man who had almost never allowed me to play my most favorite game. Tears would well up in my eyes as I saw him getting hurt, his skin reddening and his face contorting in pain; although I never resisted my mother and uncle from hitting my father. Then all of a sudden, he went missing from our home and we could never trace him back to where he had gone in spite of some of the feeble half-hearted attempts that my mother and uncle had done.
As I reminisced these stray thoughts, I was halted by a separate chain of thinking namely: What should I wear to the dinner occasion at Dr. X’s residence? I am sure, conversations during this dinner will throw some light on why Dr. X is pursuing with me? Dr. X lives in a modern castle decorated with vaults, domes and marble carvings and from what I can guess from the outside the castle would be flushed with modern upholstery, furnishings, lightings and other gadgets of comfort.
There were many, many food items I was offered at Dr. X’s dinner; half of whose names I didn’t know. I was confused what to eat and what not to. Dr. X guided me well in choosing the right dishes in appropriate quantities. In the dessert section, there were many items and there was one which is a favorite of mine: mango soufflé. Between mango soufflé and sipping a cup of cracking Darjeeling tea, Dr. X and I had an interesting conversation which I reproduce below:-
Dr. X : Mr. Y, there is an emptiness in your life!
I : There is an emptiness in my life, but whose life is devoid of emptiness!
Dr. X : You have a specific emptiness.
I : Like?
Dr. X : Like, you have a specific longing for a person. A woman. A very deep longing.
I : Dr. X, you are wrong. I am alone. I wish to remain alone. I long for nobody.
Dr. X : Don’t you miss children in your life?
I : No, not at all. I never wished to be a parent. Responsibilities of parenthood have always disgusted me.
Dr. X : Don’t you ever miss normal family life?
I : What is normal for you may be abnormal for me. Somebody had clinged to me for fifteen years without a day of respite. Today, I am enjoying my freedom.
Dr. X : Why do you dream of Paromita, then?
I : Will you intrude in my dreams as well?
Dr. X : The question is not that.
I : What is the question then?
Dr. X : The question is: Whether you dream of Paromita or not and if you do, why you do so?
I : Why are you asking me this question? Will you rob me of my privacy? If my privacy is gone, I will be living in an animal farm.
Dr. X : Because, Mr. Y, I want to understand your life. I am your counsel. I want to protect you.
I : I do not think, I need any protection from anybody.
Dr. X : You might, you don’t know as yet. Life is cruel outside this comfortable castle.
I : I have enjoyed the bodies and souls of many women in my life. Dr. X, why do you ask of only one?
Dr. X : Because you dream of her, because you dream of she and you walking down a mysterious valley which ends with a beautiful lighted cottage at its edge.
I : Have you fully penetrated into my mind?
Dr. X : Not quite. But your eyes are very expressive. Some of your dreams are still reflected on your irises. Now, tell me something about Paromita: how was she different from the others. She was not too beautiful as far as I can remember.
I : Dr. X, when you have enjoyed many beautiful bodies, what you deeply long for is a beautiful soul. Somebody with whom, you can rob a bank. The problematic question is that of a combination of a beautiful body with a beautiful soul. The soul is deeply embedded in the bowels of our body. You cannot see it. You cannot feel it permanently. Only sometimes you can have a glimpse of it. With Paromita, I could glimpse her soul. In spite of knowing my womanizing vulnerabilities, she was ready to give her up to me permanently for ever. She loved my body but she loved my soul, my essence. I had a child with her. I forced her to abort. She left me for ever.
Dr. X : So, you dream of her now.
I : Dr. X, dreams are not of our own making. They come and go. I also dream of my father, who vanished from my life all of a sudden. Paromita has also vanished from my life all of a sudden. She never gave me a second chance.
Bodies and souls perish in death. Life is one and integral. There is a complete absence of return in life. You cannot rewind scenes and moments, neither you can have a rehearsal of your life. Life is what that is spent and is irrevocable in nature. I do not know what I am making of my life. Many a times, I want to die but I do not have the courage to pluck my life. So, what I do is: live on without a direction in my life. Earlier, I had two poles in my life – one was to take care of my sick wife and the other was to make repeated conquests on women. They engaged me in two different directions and kept me involved in the motions of life. Now, I have lost the pace and fancy to lead from one day to the other.
What surprises me most is: where does Dr. X come from – from the outside or the inside? It is important for me to know that. Until and unless I have answer to this question, I would not learn to tackle Dr. X. Is it true that our minds exist in three layers – conscious, subconscious and unconscious? Can there be an unconscious part of the mind? Is this true?
Dreams are often linked to the subconscious part of the mind. Dreams are also linked to the unconscious part of the mind. How is it determined that which part of our life will enter which part of our mind? How does the subconscious and the unconscious portions of our mind reflect images while drams are being made? I am amazed by the functions of the movie maker of our mind. There was a point in time when two dreams would come up before my mind’s eye night after night. They are – (1) I am flying a red gigantic kite alone in a limitless valley against the back-drop of an ultramarine sky overcast with low flying cotton-ball like clouds and the kite looking like a red star shinning in the sky among the tufts of clouds. It is day time. I am happy, smiling and joyful; (2) I am falling like an astronaut in a limitless well – pitch-black and frightening. I am palpitating and hyper-ventilating.
Surprisingly, these two dreams would come back to me in uneven sequences. It is not, as if, when I would be happy, I would see the happy dream and when I would be sad, I would be seeing the frightening dram. My seeing these dreams would make no sense to me, but I would be very happy to see the dream with the kite and very anxious to see the dream in which I fell relentlessly in a tunnel through the centre of the earth.
Should I share my dreams with Dr. X, the next time I meet him?
……to be continued