The Bliss of Ignorance

a writing by Anjani George

I examined my hands in detail. Well maintained nails showing tell tale signs of the manicure I’d got done a week ago. Nails were slightly long but shaped well and painted in a pastel shade of pink, so light that one needed to look intently to identify that nail polish had been used.
I examined each finger one by one without any hurry at all. There was no sign of peeling off of the pink colour. The examination continued. The veins on the back of my hands had become prominent. The bluishness was vivid for my hands were fair. I realized my veins looked bulged and protruded running one over the other as if competing for my attention. I touched each one along its path feeling how they ran and slightly pressing them down as if wishing them to straighten out.
Opposite was a large window, stretching from top to bottom of the room. The window had been treated so as to make it opaque from both sides. I strained my eyes trying to defy the principle to see if I could make out shapes outside. Once I had managed to shape out a large octopus, I imagined its wriggling tentacles as droplets of water on the window pane and the sunrays played their part to further activate and boost my imagination.
Now began the procedure of spectacle cleaning. To myopia and astigmatism was now the added burden of hyperopea. I smiled at my in depth knowledge of the medical names which flowed with ease. So, all those visits to the ophthalmologist hadn’t been in vain after all.
I blew at the spectacles allowing the water vapour in my breath to slowly settle on the lenses and then using the bottom of my kurta to wipe clean the glasses so I could read. The previous day’s newspaper ready at hand, I felt at ease as muscles constricted and expanded to get rid of waste that lay collected in my intestines and bowels. Amused? Well, I guess I could do with a smile too, now that I was done with the “daily clearance” part.
I waited a while slowly savoring every bit of the news paper from art and culture to fashion, cinema, cuisine and most important the latest development in medical technology.
From gene therapy to prosthetics and stem cell treatments, inspite of not being in the medical profession, I had one more purpose in life and with my strong belief in miracles which inspired me to get updated on the latest of medical sciences. The swelling under my left arm was playing on my mind. Done with the paper and having given ample time for the exhaust fan to do its job, I decided it was time to quit.
I retained the satisfied smile on my face as I came out of the bathroom and bumped into the love of my life.. Whew!!! That could be embarrassing but least seductive.
“Has it ever occurred to you that one of the most positive outcomes of getting retired is having your own toilet time? What a luxury? It just means giving your body the time it needs to eject waste!! No hurry, no stocking, no piling up, no fibre gobbling!! Imagine!! Blissful, wouldn’t it be?”
He gave me a weird look. He’d begun giving me many of them lately. I guess he felt I was beginning to get a bit goofy in the head.
I lived in constant fear these days. I was suffering from so many phobias and perhaps schizophrenic too! Ha ha medical terminologies again.
The truth was I was terrified of everything!
The fear of loss began to overtake me.
I could lose my money, my job and thereby my independence!
Everyone seemed to be scheming against me wishing me ill.
For every situation, I turned to the internet for explanation.
“What to do when kids behaved differently?”
“Swelling on the left side of throat”
“Best college in the Universe”
“How good is the Leon School in Chandigarh”
“What to do when you feel depressed”
“Why do people behave the way they do”
“What is the craziest thing to do?”
Blah Blah Blah………..Luckily the search engines always had infinite number of explanations to any question you posed and you would end up spending the rest of your day reading the most useless things that concern you least.
Information was just overflowing, like lava from an active volcano and could cause an explosion anytime. Imagine your skull just exploding and heated brains flowing out …..ha ha …that was funny!!
Now stop diverting the topic!Idiot!
Fear and anxiety! Stress! Pressure cooker that is unable to let out steam! Loose motion without a toilet at hand! Ha ha. Now, there you go …diversion again………stop being ridiculous, I say. Let’s just get to the end of this.
Do you know what it means to be busy but bored? That is exactly what I am, and not today only but every day. Busy as ever, so many things to do and many of them, I just fabricate to show off that I am busy but yet, I remain bored. Bored in the sense, jittery, unable to be still, restless always and it’s….well…..frustrating like hell!!
What are the others up to? Friends, acquaintances, relatives, I can get in touch with anytime I want. Their most inner thoughts and feelings and what they do is promptly being updated available to me at a ping on my phone. Just one small peep and back to what I should be doing.
Ah there you go!! That’s “X’ n her sexy night gown while “Y” seems to be doing acrobatics from some stupid mountain top and my broke friend “Z” seems to be having the best time of her life, a beer mug held high with the brand on display.
Woops!! That’s even more depressing. That means I am the only bored one. There is nothing terribly exciting happening down here.
Instant gratification, is what it’s called, isn’t it? And it is the new “in thing”. Not to break the convention I ping on “like” and the usual “thumbs up sign”. Wow!!Amazing!! Unbelievable!! Mind boggling!! Luckily one can always turn to google for any number of adjectives.
Panic attack all over.
Search search seach!!
“Causes for head ache in the back of the head”
“How to cope with stress”
“How to know if children are lying”
“How many more years will the universe sustain”
“What to do when vision is blurred”
“Which is the best phone”
Its talk, talk, talk all the while, conversation is virtual, it’s happening with the phone, the lap top!!
Fear!
Fear of losing money, dropping share prices!
Fear of losing my job!
Fear of accidents!
Fear of unseen dangers!
Fear of losing freedom!
Fear of growing old!
Fear of losing health!
I was becoming a slave to my fears and when you think of it, it all narrows down to being “bored”. What do you think? Ain’t I right?
Negative thoughts. Slowly they were taking over me and drowning me. Like the quick sand I had seen in the movie. I was no different from the rest, a self centered human, gorging on knowledge, holding on to my wealth, craving for the latest gadgets, bossing my way through - all in the rush to prove mysef smart, to carve out the prettiest and most beautiful things, to accumulate more wealth and all that just for myself. Achieving what I craved for came foremost and I made others dance to my tune to get my way with things.
I was overconfident about my acting skills and I guess,…………hmm……..well…….. imagined the others were stupid, unable to see through my schemes. My plan was always the perfect plan. I was just too clever. The world today belongs to my lot of self centered individuals out to play the wild game called life in the most aggressive manner. I knew this was not the real “me” but I did nothing to stop myself. I needed to survive too. I did not try to stop myself from being so for I had to survive too.
I planned for the future well in advance. I plotted for the best and strived that it came to me.
But my job kept me grounded to reality. Damn it!!!
I wondered if I had a split personality. My job which I’d begun to feel was a spoilsport. I needed a cushy job that kept me in touch with a higher society. For, I was beginning to get confused. My work place was a far throw from well to do, wealthy society I normally mingled with, it was a different life from the one my club friends led, it was in utter contrast to the way of living of the wealthy.
I was puzzled to see true merit and inborn talents in the least expected places which were in stark contradiction to huge amounts we strew lavishly for our children to get attention.
I saw people suffering from sickness and diseases and not having enough money to buy medicines.
I heard stories of people buying left over and over ripe fruits and discarded vegetables from stores at half the prices to feed their children and I also heard of children less than the age of 16 going out to work to fund their studies.
I knew of a poor family where the drunken so called master of the house (bastard!!!) spent all the money he got, drinking and came back to his wife at night for sex.
The lady who came to sweep our office left her paralyzed 21 year old son lying at home to earn money so she could feed him.
I knew of children who did not have half the physical capacities of normal children and yet who struggled to keep up with their peers determined not to just wallow in self pity.
But why was I bothered? Hadn’t I just point blank decided to turn a deaf ear on their problems? I wished them the best. I sure did not want to be one of them.
I was worried all the time and in a state of panic.
My heart beats so fast and I break into tears at the most inappropriate of times. Sometimes my head begins to ache and my thinking gets blurred. My eyes stop seeing and I am terrified I will not be able to see at all one day.
There is the fear of failure and the fatigue of running a never ending race.
It is the quest and the zeal of what would come tomorrow that fills my thoughts. It is the apprehension to hoard for coming days that fills my heart. I keep running from pillar to post trying to do too many things pretending to be busy to impress? Whom? I do not know.
I have stopped enjoying what I do because I do not have the time to relish what I do. It feels like running a marathon with a baton, where there is only one runner and the baton are but different tasks. So it’s like running from one task to another and I ‘m just running and running.
Little dhania follows her father without his knowledge every day to the farm. The weather is unpredictable and many of her friend’s fathers have committed suicides having given up. She is afraid the same will happen to her too.
Thirteen year old Pavithra is afraid her drunken step father will creep into her room when the lights are switched off making her do dirty things. She realizes her mother knows of it but is helpless.
Sixteen year old Ramcharan, Is a human scavenger, cleaning manholes and sewers. He is a drug addict, a habit he acquired to blow off his senses when he lowers himself into the stench.
Ruby, the prostitute, has even forgotten what she was called when she was born. She “sees” so many people daily that her body feels numb all day and remains emotionless to everything that goes on around.
In every nook I sense danger. Every person I meet seems to be a prospective attacker. There seems to be danger lurking in every message coming on the social networking sites. Seemingly harmless good morning messages have hidden capacities to suck out personal information and hidden passwords, people warn.
I have become suspicious of the Bengali boy who works as the lift serviceman in the apartment. The cook who comes, I’m sure is here to loot things from my home and take them away. Whatsapp messages terrify me, face book posts have begun to be disturbing and I feel being stalked with so much information so easily available on the internet.
I am terrified of dying. Bombarded with so much information which is so easily available online I am sure that the mole on my skin is skin cancer and my head ache is surely a tumor.
The information I gather online confirms I am suffering from some genetic disorder and that I suffer from some incurable hereditary disease. Oh gosh! The panic I feel is unbearable.
My car becomes my scream room and I scream at the top of my voice, till I feel my, tears streaming from my eyes. I pity myself and living is such an unbearable thing now that I do not have much time to live. I consider ending my life. I need something different in life to keep me engaged, to enthrall me and to keep my mind from so much of information.
The other night I received a link from an unknown number. There were so many cautions against messages from unknown numbers. This would be the last one I opened.
I needed an adrenaline rush! I had no idea where to get that from. Drugs? Booze? I was ready for anything. But my conservative background wouldn’t let me go in search for these or perhaps I was just too timid to try out.
An online game would have been the last thing to excite me, maybe a couple of years ago. But, today, it did!! Yes, it did so well. I literally drowned in the game. I was addicted, hook, line and sinker. I played day and night. It took away the boredom, It saved me the pain of checking up everything on the internet, it killed anxiety and best of all it saved me devouring the whole lot of un required information, which I actually didn’t need.
Ha….ha……. The last laugh would be mine. I was anyway dying of cancer and tumour at the same time, then why not some fun before that?
Finally I was an achiever. Every time I used the knife to cut myself at different places, which got me on to the next stage of the game, I was thrilled.
But I got caught. Caught red handed, by my love. I was guilt ridden but I begged him. “Please let me play. This is my dying wish. I will not live for long.” I cried and cried and cried. I could sense bewilderment and shock on his face.
“Oh you do not understand. I know everything. I know too much. I know too much and I cannot take it anymore”, I screamed at the top of my voice.
I pulled at my hair and I scratched at him. My nails sunk into his flesh, hurting him. I pulled off my clothes. I ran up and down.
I beat my head against the wall. I could vaguely see blood on the walls. Oh! There was blood everywhere. I retched and spit cursing loudly.
“I laughed loud but I wasn’t laughing. I was scared. I was afraid. The effort to finally calm me down was enormous. It was as if I had gathered a lot of strength from somewhere. As if I had super human powers. Maybe genetic mutations made me so strong.
I cried and screamed and shouted and laughed all together. Then I fell.
I woke up to peace at last, to silence. I looked round. White walls blankly stared at me. I was dressed in a white gown. I wondered if I was in heaven for there was no more humdrum in my head. No bees astir in my brain. Just - plain beautiful silence.
I couldn’t get up on my own yet. I would need help. I saw sisters with their chic white dresses smiling at me.
Ah!! I was in a rehabilitation centre, being treated for addiction to the internet or rather addiction to information. I smiled. It felt good to be free of knowledge. I was once again enjoying being bored. I was beginning to appreciate the platforms I had for performance and intended to get well fast and go back to them. The need to keep performing relentlessly and continuously was dead, thankfully.
It felt good not to compete, to just be me. I was on tranquilsers that helped me be at peace. I was a mental patient, but even that did not make me panic. I was glad for the help in time. I had learnt to let go, to let those who were trained to do their job. I was thankful for the poetry that filled my heat, that which was my very own and not borrowed.
I recited aloud:
Meaningless for once, sounds and words
For none can express the pain of piercing swords
Searing through and plundering ruthlessly
At nooks and corners, driving to the point to lunacy

Hazy and clouded, shrouded with mystery
Searching for symptoms and other registered history
Hysterical but bounded to the pact of secrecy
For there still lies strong hopes of a leniency

The clues, the alibis may be pointers to certainty
These are but a part of the show, faith says blatantly
The magician shall swish his magic wand
As the giveaways vanish with the wave of his hand

Heavy hearted, uneasy the mind and blurred senses
The suffering, the agony to continue in present and future tenses
Dark clouds looming large as the haunted turns prey
To information, uninvited that turns the spirit mighty fray

The tentacles of anxiety sink in, cutting deep
Suffocating, gasping for breath and never again to sleep
Why to suffer this way without any deliverance
For isn’t it better to pave the way for the bliss of ignorance

I was also now a seeker of the “the bliss of ignorance”.

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