To exist is to fight existential dread. The human species survived extinction level events, tribal skirmishes, plagues and world wars, but the descendants of those who survived paid the price with post civilisational trauma. This dread is the background hum to our waking and sleeping existence. It is the anticipation with which we live.
The lockdown is meant to stop us from spreading a very efficient virus. In every nation, leaders and experts use the idioms of nationalism to move people into a war against the virus. But the lockdown did something else that cannot be addressed by those in charge of fighting a tactical war against a virus with medicine weapons and harried physician soldiers at hospital frontlines.
Continue reading The dread
Something strange happens to me. I go to this place, the closet in my head, where I can’t read or write or even watch television the most passive of things to do. I feel restless and uninterested and skim over blogs in freshly-pressed desperate to feel a prick of the old interest I have felt before. The only time I am happy is in my little garden where in a deep well of Indian summer heat, sunflowers are blooming a hot, glad yellow. When I look over at them from the living room, I feel a prick of interest, of life, perhaps even passion. That warm yellow is life itself and this colour that bees adore leaks into the dark closet where I have gone, it stops me from deadening away inside. Life is if anything feeling interested in things, not this hiding away and curling up in corners far from a world in which you feel alien.
Continue reading The in-betweeners
I can’t shake the awful feeling that we are cannon fodder here in the third world. Last month, in the northern Indian state of Chattisgarh under-privileged, poor village women were taken to be ‘sterilized’. Thirteen of them died after operations designed to stop them from having babies. The state government quickly executed a cover-up blaming pesticides in medications for the deaths. But independent fact-finders revealed on December 5 to television reporters that what killed these hapless women were horribly unsanitary conditions. The doctor allegedly did not even change gloves between operations.
On the news again was the story of a group of poor villagers in the state of Punjab who attended an eye-camp and went blind. This is a blip on the news, with added footage of the member of parliament for the area arriving chewing gum, in a big people-carrier carrying only him, in between mouthfuls of gum he mouthed customary utterances like `we are going to find out what happened’. That was it; scapegoats will be found and the blinded will be forgotten in the mess and chaos of this large country.
Continue reading The cannon fodder ladder