Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kurai Ondrum Illai.....Part 3

Yes. He was born with the silver spoon. He had it all coming to him. Great family. Superb friends. Doting teachers. He wasn’t any goody two shoes either. He knew he was held in good regard. And he tried to maximize the benefits that would come with it. He knew how to please people. He knew how to get things done. Some would call it manipulation. Others would call it action oriented. But only Dhaya knew the truth. To him, he was a scientist conducting experiments with people. With himself. For each of the behavioural inputs, he was keenly observing the consequences and was adjusting himself to make the most out of it. It was all a game for him. Something he enjoyed playing. Especially when the stakes were high. And success followed him. If at all there was one good thing in him, it was this – he knew what was and never pretended to be otherwise. He knew he was a cold blooded, selfish and something really cruel and ugly. Deep down there in the heart. In his heart. Ultimately that would turn out to be his source of redemption.

From school he passed out with flying colors. He didn’t want the usual engineering and MBBS. He knew he would then turn out to be one among others. He opted for Economics. Not because it interested him. But…just like that. What if he wasn’t interested? He would make himself like it, master it. And once this was accomplished, lose all interest in it once again. What was crucial for him was to prove to himself that he could achieve what he wanted to. And so he joined the BRT College which was the best college in the town for people aspiring to be top notch economists. It was here while learning his economics that it started hitting him. Studying economics was almost like going through all that he had done in his life. Supply-demand, marginal utility, incentives, game theory. All of this. Was man really a creature of incentivization? Be it materialistic or spiritual? Can’t one do something not because it fetches him some reward, but just because it pleases him? Well, it can be argued that pleasing oneself is a reward in itself. But then it is at least not like being bought upon. Here he read that famous prisoner’s dilemma. Given a choice between life and death, where if both cooperate they can come out alive, it is rare that it happens. Each one would want to escape at any cost and go against the other. As a result of which both of them die. Can somebody be so stupid? If die you must, at least give yourself the chance of contributing towards making another man live. Strangely he didn’t like it. He couldn’t get himself to agree to such basic tenets. It was revolting for him. Possibly because, now he had started seeing in black and white, all that he had been doing in life. HE had been the guy who spoke against the others. The others have been the benevolent ones who had kept quiet hoping to come out alive. But were betrayed by Dhaya and sent to the guillotine. Rather than satisfying his ego, this course pricked his conscience. Was this everything about economics? No there were lots of good things to it too. But as so often happens with those who are under inquisition imposed by the self, Dhaya could see nothing other than marginalization, manipulation and self centred benefit driven decision making which was touted as the rational way of decision making in economics.

He didn’t want to immediately go and work under somebody. Hence he opted to study further. And this time decided to do a MBA. As luck would have it, despite his worst efforts he made it through. And in the great coliseum where the most brilliant of minds were believed to be competing for the Holy Grail, he switched himself off. He made himself a non entity. If at all he put any effort, it was directed towards non realization of educational goals. Instead he spent his time observing people, probably becoming a cynic but surely leading towards some sort of metamorphosis. Here he found solace from the fact that his behaviour in the ages gone by were not abnormal. In ‘B-school’ terms he was a perfectly sane and fine guy putting his rational self interest before everything else. ‘Was’ is the operative word here.

From then on, he turned into a obscenely individualistic guy. Not in the conventional sense. He would do what he pleased. Which more often than not was far different than what others would do. Success and failure didn’t affect him. some called it indifference. He became distant to everybody. His family, friends, lover…everybody. It was as if he wanted to show a finger to the whole world. Show them that a person needn’t be motivated by ‘rational’ needs. Show them that Maslow’s hierarchy is but a tool designed by mankind to keep their flocks together, obviate dissent, obviate difficult and honest introspections. Now he had found his manna. In two more months he would be graduating from the college. He didn’t do too badly in his academics. He wasn’t excellent either. He managed to keep himself as inconspicuous as possible. And when he graduated, he took the decision – he wasn’t going to enter the corporate world. He wasn’t going to join his family business. He wasn’t going to work to make money nor to create employement. He was going to work to live and to enjoy. If that meant he got too less a salary, so be it. if that meant, he had to go hungry at times, so be it. If that meant, he was going to be the object of ridicule, so be it.

Quite obviously, he turned into an object of ridicule overnight. Since people couldn’t understand his motives and he didn’t bother to explain it to anybody, everyone rightly assumed that he had turned cranky. His family didn’t understand either. His father Bharani, tried to reason him out of this. But then he once again witnessed that stubborn glazed look in the eyes of his son. He decided that the bridge had to be burnt now. It was now or never for his son Dhaya. Bharani could have made Dhaya toe his lines and get into his business. But then, he was sure that by doing that he would be the perpetual witness to a dead but living version of his son. Not the lively, curious and energetic son he had known through out his life. And hence, Bharani acquiesced. His mother was a mute spectator. She was sure that whatever her son did, it wasn’t going to mean much to her. He would still be HER son. And she was proud of that. His sister was initially embarrassed to have him for a brother. Then she felt frightened unable to fathom why he would do anything like this. The she felt concern for him since she knew that Dhaya was in essence writing his own death sentence. But finally she backed him. Because, right from the childhood one thing she knew so surely about her brother was this – Once he set his mind on something, Dhaya was bound to achieve it. No matter what.

His lover, who had turned into his fiancé during all this turmoil found the life around her falling to pieces. Yes, he was the same Dhaya. But how could she justify his actions to her parents? How could she marry him and be sure that their future will be secured? Would he marry her at all? She tried talking him out of it. the more she did it, the more she realized that the farther he was going from her. And now, it was HER moment of reckoning. She had to decide now whether she would stick to him and continue making her life a living hell? Or would she be bold enough to accept his decision and move ahead with her own life? She opted for the latter. She had her own goals in life. Yes she loved him. But that wouldn’t mean she would sacrifice her everything. There is always some amount of individuality left in each and every human that shouldn’t be violated. And she was now holding on to that thin strand of individuality while taking her decision. And that gave her the strength.

At end of all this, Dhaya was to turn a new leaf in the book that was his life. A man who couldn’t retain love. A man who couldn’t love. A man who moved away from his family. A man whose friends moved away from him. He was the prototype for everybody around him for what one should not be. And from this debris, Dhaya decided to start afresh. From now, his life will be on his terms. No more dancing to the tune of the world. No more making the world dance to his tune either. He wanted none of it. He just wanted to live. And die. There was no in between wishes that he had now.

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