Humility is not in my DNA. I was hopelessly vain until some benevolent people in Shillong decided to hammer my ego on the anvil of humiliation. The Mastermind [the name I gave in my memoir, Autumn Shadows, to the person who masterminded the whole strategy] made me a personification of shame. I became so ashamed of myself, my ego was so much pulverised, that I had to leave the place just out of the survival instinct that keeps organisms keep going even when they know they are worthless in the larger picture that really matters. [Matters to whom? That’s a question I’ll take up in subsequent blogs.] I left Shillong with a fragmented soul.
Nearly two decades have passed after that flight and life has taught me a lot of lessons in those decades. Unfortunately humility has not been one of those lessons, it seems. Somebody in one of the many WhatsApp groups to which I belong more by necessity than choice was generous enough to tell me that in that group to which I never wanted to belong in the first place. That is the only one of two WhatsApp groups I quit because I couldn’t digest what was happening there. I’m still a member of about a dozen groups and nobody accuses me of pride or any other vice. On the contrary, people tell me that I make meaningful contributions to the groups. Nevertheless I took the member’s counsel seriously, as I always do with personal attacks, and spent a couple of days pondering it.
Why are you so proud? I asked myself. You’re an old man with grey hairs, stained teeth and a mended heart. You’ve seen life from a million angles. You’ve seen countless people who are far more gifted than you. You are insignificant, just another nonentity, on this planet of billions of creatures most of whom matter a lot more than you to someone or the other.
I know, I said. I never claimed to be anything significant at any time in the last two decades, did I? I questioned certain wrongs which I thought were serious matters. The way I express my indignation is rude sometimes, I know. Is rudeness a sign of pride?
My impatience with silliness and stupidity makes me rude. When people are not ready to listen to gentle expressions of dissent, my expressions become rude.
Ah, there you are. You think others are silly and stupid. Isn’t that just what pride is?
Well, aren’t they really that: stupid and silly? If you show them the naked truth, they’ll still cling to their silly beliefs and sentiments. Worse, their religious patrons commit heinous crimes like raping and killing and when I point that out, they call that pride! How silly!
Why do you want to meddle with people’s religious sentiments and beliefs? For most people those sentiments and beliefs are the only things that give meaning to their lives. When you nitpick with them, you are being very cruel. Only a cruel person can strangulate the very sense of life which people hold on to desperately in a sad existence.
I understand. It’s not about my pride really though I know that there is that horrible vice lingering within my soul in spite of all the fragmentation it went through. Some things are genetic. You can’t do much about them. How much more fragmentation will be required to heal me of my pride?
I’m cruel. I understand. I garrote the simple meanings that people discover in their lives. I am a murderer worse than the killers in religions and politics. They kill bodies. I kill meanings.
What is the meaning of life anyway? I decided to embark on a voyage into that question, into that ocean. September is dedicated to that voyage. Wait for much, much more, if you think it’s worthwhile.
Tomorrow: What is the meaning of life?
Yesterday: The Archangel’s Sword [What led me to all this]