Wednesday, May 14, 2014

"Kerala Cafe"

The night was warm but it was about the humidity that we spoke about. The sky was cloudy and that shut out the stars. But more than the absence of a starry sky, the cloudy night was a matter of discomfort. The terraced balcony of the house was half shaded by a canopy roof, underneath which it was warmer than out in the open terrace.

What the nine of us who gathered up there did not acknowledge was that it was not an inconsiderate weather that was enhancing the humidifying feel, but the warmth of whiskey and Vodka that we were liberally ingesting. The spouses were down inside the house congregated presumably around the dining table fanned by the cool breeze of the ceiling fan.  The twenty-fifth wedding day anniversary dinner of a friend was what that brought us together at his house.

“Hey, by the way how about your father? Is he better now?  I asked B.
“Well how can it be better? It is getting worse.” B said.
Well, I remember when we last met you mentioned that he was not too bad and was back home from the hospital.”
“Yes, yes he is home. But then he has forgotten how to get out of his cot. You can see what would happen if we try to get up from bed only using our legs and that when an eighty five year old man does, it would be inviting agony for him and trouble for others.” I felt I noticed a glimpse of a tiny streak of irritation in B’s face and in the words. B continued. “I’m really worried for him if he has forgotten what a fall is .A fall, a broken bone can be very difficult in his age and in the mental state that he is.”
I nodded in agreement.

B said. “I fear he is fast losing all mental faculties. And besides that he is reasonably fine for a person of his age. That in fact is compounding the problem for him and for others.”
“In a way he is fortunate B. There are people to take care of him, I mean his children. Didn’t we hear the story on TV the other day when five children forsake their old mother- casting her away at a temple town? Then when the district administration and police traced them, they refused to accept the mother back. They were even not deterred by the threat from the District Collector to slap criminal charges against them.” BJ who was a professor said.

“Yes, that was raw negligence and ungratefulness. Wasn't it?” said I. “Remember TC.” I said referring to our host. “He had to bear with his mother for five long years. She was bedridden and was struck by dementia. Lucky for her he and his wife took good care of her. It was not the money alone that matters in such cases. It is the goodness of heart, whether children or stranger.”

“I have no hope for these words and deeds such as of gratefulness and gracious. They are luxurious nouns and adjectives meant for eulogies and sycophancy. They are all defunct in today’s world. And I have decided that I will have nothing to do with my son when I’m old and if I live long. I will sign my savings to a hospice or an old age care and be comfortable. One has to be stupid to tag on to their children hoping they will take care of us when we are old. One has to be practical and feel no anguish about. They, the young too have a life to live. Don’t they? And if the old outlive and become encumbrance, do we still blame the young and their attitude?” P said aboveboard. He in fact had signed and legalised a document consigning his cadaver to the medical school and also donated his organs that could be harvested.

B was completely in agreement with P. He said.  “We cannot be judgmental. To slur those people who left their old mother will be unfair. They were being as P said practical. Perhaps they ran out of options. Didn’t you see the movie “Kerala Café” where a scene shows this man who had to cast away his mother who was afflicted by Alzheimer’s? The agony and raw torment he faced was well copied. What could he do? Abject poverty and no way he could feed or take care of the old woman; a cantankerous wife but to blame her was unfair. She was beyond her tether of her patience and forbearance; little children to take care and above all he were the only person to bring home bread.”

Now it was P who said. “Now listen, Man as a species was meant to live and procreate. Nothing more and nothing less. Nature have never intended Man to live beyond say forty or fifty years life span. It is the so called progress, inventions, discoveries, science etc. that has given man longevity, well beyond what was sustainable from Natures’ point of view. Come on yar our productive procreative life begins to ebb after forty. The prime is over in the forties. And what else are we here for. All this sociological commitments, the notion that “Man”, with a big Capital “M” is more  advanced, developed intellectually than beast, we cannot compare us to beasts etc. are bunkum.  They are off shoot of our conceited inflated self, our false feeling, and our silly belief in our prominence.”

We were going through a very interesting discussion.

“But why then do we have faculties of cognition, contemplation, and reasoning? Aren’t we differently evolved than beasts, though we are not in any way superior? Certainly each species is superior in its own ways learning to survive. Isn't it so?” I wanted to say but by then the call from downstairs for dinner was relayed to us  and we had to leave the matter and move down.

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Conversation

“It is the easiest of all acts to display being offended and you must understand that, see through that act. One doesn’t always  have to be coached at a school of acting to display expressions to cover ones underbelly.  Ha, don’t you see that being offended is our national pastime and sport? ” I said, the last sentence in lighter vein.

Though we have been discussing the topic for a while, the protagonist was not agreeing with me completely and seemed to be in déjà vu. “It may be true; perhaps you have been right in your judgment. Perhaps! But his conduct and the utter demeaning way he speaks, he rubbishes make one feel having done something gravely offensive.  In fact he makes you feel guilty of having wronged him.”

“Now look.” I said. “That is exactly the point I want to make. Alas! He has seen through you like he may have seen through some others, who may have had the same failings as you- who may have had timorously swallowed his acts of prudishness and preferred to see his idiosyncrasies as harmless and passable. You must ignore his malarkey, his acts. His sophistry, his imperious self-obsessed self-righteousness did not allow him understand you and acknowledge your honest feelings about him.  He may have had his way with people who were timid and passive; he loves their company because he can brusquely lord over them and revel. He may have noticed that strategy worked well for him and he has continued to practice it as an art and craft that gives him pleasure. He thus acquired the audacity to expect, to demand the same unquestioned pliantness form all. Hence his arrogance, his tantrums of being offended. That is only a decoy to sustain him.” 

“I guess so.” She replied.

“And doesn't he get wretchedly personal when he has this grandiose feeling of annoyance of being offended?  When he has nothing else to elevate his ego and his imperious righteousness to levels where others cannot rubbish it?” I said.

She said.“Of course he does. I have heard him often and seen him too; he has now directed his ire towards
me like he has done to others in the past. He has the bloated egoistic feeling of having been offended. Yes, he does. Sometimes when he displays his dictatorial annoyance, he makes people feel that he is “Napoleon” the rather fierce-looking big boar, the character in Orwell’s Animal Farm; not much of a speaker, but with a fearful reputation for getting his own way. He brooks no critique and dissent. Once at a friendly gathering, he threw up tantrums that were sour and behoved people who have not been through proper education and it was gauche. It was his reaction that was offensive and peeved me and others to much extent. All because a gentleman was expressive with his opinion that he resented.His opinionated statement about the gentleman whose only fault was that he spoke his mind and conviction, even to this day is derisory. Yet we brushed  it off as a tiny dark streak on the moon. ”

“Precisely the point. Brushing it aside may have been the mistake. But we do that because each one of us has characteristics and idiosyncrasies’ that are both good and not bad. Long at last, you seem to have finally after these many years understood the emptiness in the person. Such folks are selfish, unsure of themselves, they fear their weaknesses.  They aspire but are non achievers because they revolt within than be honest to themselves. They cannot be gregarious. They are double-entendre. If you trusted him it was your error of judgment. Your limitation! They think they can get even with others if they indulge in personal diatribe. Thus they expect to plow you down. You know? Ignore him, such lot. Move on. There is much brightness elsewhere in this world than to be tethered into a dark alley that can only be lit by an artificial source.” I said.

We spoke about other matters in general, a bit of politics and what could be in store with the general election results on May 16. Orwellian possibility! We agreed upon that without ado.