Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Brothers of Karmazova

"The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to such a pass that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for him and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love, and in order to occupy and distract him without love he gives way to passions and coarse pleasures, ……., all from continual lying to other men and to himself."

How perfect a summing up are these lines of Foyodr Dostoevsky!

He ceased to love and all that he showcased as love and affection were charade. His cunning and glory facade was magnified in the form of excessive display of devotion (sic) to his God. And since he began to be delighted in lies, he lost his power to distinguish between falsehood and facts:  he believed and regaled in falsehood and knavish. Thence he lost his touch with his creator. For he lied to him too and bated no eyelid, he believed that his lies were the truth! Truth, he wanted to see and for others to believe.

“What is done is done”, she would fume and no blandishments meant for her husband unlike Lady Macbeth. She would continue, “...and what has to be done must be done, I do not care if it is your mother, sisters, brother or friends”. However to accuse her of the lone source of wickedness and malfeasance would be quite unfair .It must be understood that the two were uniquely created for the other and in fact their self-serving smugness and vile compliments each other.

When serendipity smiles, she hugs. And when it hugged him it was a bear hug. It suffocated him with manna and enkindled the selfishness and arrogance dormant in him.

They were two, he and his brother. Born into a very modest and ordinary family in the pleasant climes of a mountain village, their childhood was lively as that of any other kids reared in the remote quietness of the hills. Until they were in their early teens they had no clue or idea about a world and lands over the hills. The farthest they traveled was the eight kilometers on the serpentine road criss- crossing the Tea and Coffee plantations to the nearest semblance of what was a village. The rickety old ramshackle wooden and tin sheet contraption that they called, “the bus” ran on a rundown Fargo engine scraped by the British military after the Second Great War. The schedule of the bus from the gate of the Church of “The Immaculate Virgin”, a couple of hundred yards from their house to the distant village was a certainty as uncertainty can be. And she plied the distance like a lame tortoise. But nevertheless the bus and the journey in it were akin to a supersonic travel for the brothers.

Old man Karamazov was a good man and he respected his God more than what others did- fear. He toiled hard earnestly and with heart and soul to bring bread and burn the wick at home. He had immense faith in his creator and reared the eight children he had. It will be unfair to discount the hand his wife lend and served him in rearing the kids and keeping their home a little garden of Eden.
In such atmosphere there was bound to be love, affection, gaiety and the struggles are soothed out forgotten and consigned out. Though the fact was that, individual fault lines in the character of the kids refused to be submerged. They did often latently raise their heads. But the gentle Mr Karamazov came down heavily when recalcitrance was noticed.

It was after their few teen years spent aimlessly in the lotus eating wilderness of the hills did Mr.Karmazov decide to send them to a faraway city into the guardianship of their Godfather. The brothers enjoyed the new world. The young Karamazov was wily and a salesman in flesh, blood and breath. A man who could sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo and still have him feel he bought a warmer. He could easily grab a small job in a company and his artful ways and countenance gave him fair speed of rise in the organization. The eldest of the Karamazov brothers though, was content to be in the shadow of his kid brother and be happy with the little blessings that came his way because of the later. Life was fair and splendid! The Karamazov brothers dutifully send regular money through post to their old man back home. In later years one may have to notice this as a strange aberration in their character especially of the youngest. They were noticeably very sensible and a dutiful duo though the young Karamazov was colourful and rather flamboyant in style. His brother though was quiet, preferring to lie low and enjoy the pleasures of the world.

Avarice was the lecherous maiden that slept with the younger Karamazov. And his acts of felony was unearthed by the company sleuths who were watching his rather extravagant life and they caught him hands on , confronted him and threw him out ignominiously from the job. With the corner stone gone the eldest of the Karamazov brothers was infirm and like a helpless duck caught in the middle of a busy motor way.
Lady luck smiled on the brothers in unexpected and enviable form. It would take a few quires of paper to narrate their rise up the social hierarchy and for the young Karamazov it was phoenix like and of great pride. The lifeline he got was like avenging the ignominy and ill-luck that put him down for quite a while

When the younger Karamazov spake the rest of the clan trembled and they trembled convulsively from fear when his lady spake. Such was the power of wealth that was in their control. He began to expressively use others as means to his desired end. One day he banged his fist with such furiousness and ferocity on the dinner table during a family dinner to observe old man Karamazov’s death anniversary that the whole group of his clan trembled and shriveled. Such was the force of his fist coming down on the wooden table, glasses and plates flew scattered. He said “This is my money, my wealth. It is I and my wife who decide who eats from our plate”. He turned to the old woman and gesticulated with terrific eyes and yelled derisively, “if you want to go back to the house  in that god forsaken hills and into that den plastered with clay and cow dung you can and take with you who among the people here who disagree with me. Here, I’m the lord”, and pointing towards his wife he continued, “beware she will decide who is welcome and who is not. She is the mistress here”. There was appalling terror and hate in his face. As one among who was then, there, sitting perched miserably in a chair nearby saw as she later recollected, “I saw the devil in his face, the devil, Lucifer himself!”

The elder of the Karamazov brothers was as he always was, content with the second fiddle and he preferred the crumbs from his kid brother rather than show the courage and moral fortitude to stand up to him and his ruthless, overly ambitious and pathetic wife. He feigned deafness to all the shenanigans of the duo and there, at the table on that day, he slipped out to smoke his cigars. An artful escapist and self-seeker! He had the right to remain silent but lacked the moral courage not to be silent.
 He surely will have died many a time while he lives.


Usha Menon said...

The Brothers of Karmazova is an interesting tale of two bothers. The younger one is really street smart.Through his wealth he turned the elder one into a meek and a coward fellow. Thats why they say that too much wealth berefts a man of all his humility.

Meera Sundararajan said...

This is an interesting post-a story strung together to bring out something deeper. Someone who lives in the shadow of another often lacks the courage to out of into the sun. And then ofcourse there is the arrogance of success that thinks it can get way with anything!! I like to think you used Dante's saying " The darkest place in hell will be reserved for those who maintain neutrality during times of moral crisis" to illustrate the older brother's situation!!!

amalg999 said...

Power does not come suddenly. It trickles in slowly and grows silently until it reaches monstrous proportions.

The Karamazov family were under the false hope that the growing problem would go away, if ignored and so they wisely buried their collective heads in the sand.

Machiavelli, in his book THE PRINCE, wrote that it would be wise to nip a problem in bud, before it grows too big and strong enough to destroy you. Just like a thumb-nail size plant latches on to a giant tree and slowly grows so big that it chokes the life out of its supporting giant. Such seems to be the case here.

Ambition, aided with power has easily destroyed the one who brought him up from a non-entity to unlimited power within the Karamazov family. Now, his siblings are trembling zombies. The blame wholly lie on them for surrendering their rights and powers to their ambitious "Caesar" or "Seizer", call him what you will. This is the poisonous fruit of trusting the wrong person. Hence the saying : "Trust is good. But mistrust is better."

This case reminds me of the words of a victim who had written : " I die by my own hand, Yet I die murdered ", in a detective novel ( maybe from Agatha Christie's novel ).

We reap what we sow !

B Pradeep Nair said...

The literary work not just pans human existence in all its entirety but also dwells on human responses to social dynamics.

BK Chowla, said...

In my opinion,it will make a very nice film.

anilkurup said...

@ Usha Menon,

Yes the Dostoevsky epic is a great book. Wealth corrupts , yes and the quick accession corrupts in totality, I mean morally and spiritually.

@ Meera Sundarajan,
Thanks for the comment. Yes Dante's dictum was in the back of my mind, I just could not remember the words to quote verbatim.


Your last sentence in the comment is absolute.

B.Pradeep Nair,

I agree the original was a class apart.

@ B.K.Chowla,
Writing a screen play calls for far more thinking and imagination which I wonder is by my side.

....Petty Witter said...

Interesting to read of the dark subtleties that can lie beneath.

Ashwini C N said...

Interesting tale. There is so much to it than what meets the eye. Like someone said, so much beneath the dark layers, left untouched.

I liked how you started this narration. When we keep saying lies and we take comfort in them, we force ourselves to move away from reality, away from mankind, away from the truth!

adithyasaravana said...

Interesting, human behavior is difficult to comprehend. There lies the trick of telling a convincing story. To bring about the subtelities of a character.The muteness in the elder brother also has grown into proportions and he chose to stay close rather than to have splintered.
And arrogance also needs takers.

rudraprayaga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rudraprayaga said...

Devilishness enthrones itself dethroning Godliness at the power of penny.Interesting tale.

anilkurup said...

@ Petty Witter

Thanks T.

@ Ashwini.C.N

Thanks for the comment. Yep there must be something more beneath.

@ Adityasarvanan,

What do you think, characters evolve or the basic nature lies dormant for the time to come out?

@ Rudraprayag,

Probable yes.

....Petty Witter said...

Greetings my friend, hoping all is well with you and yours.