Wednesday, 22 December 2010

You Middle Class!

During those golden days of past, we had so many workers at home, whom we would play around with. They would take us around to places of varied locality, and also gave us the freedom from our parents’ watchful eyes. The mirth, the joy of childhood, which I could only yearn for, but never achieve through any amount of money that I will possibly earn in my life, is filled with the instances of such people. I faintly, but surely remember the “malaiwaalah” that used to turn up to our house every Saturday and Sunday, knowing that we would be around and would surely pester our parents to get “malai”. The “hawa mithaiwaallah “ too followed the routine, and all of them so beautifully created the their own space in my decorated childhood, interspersed with memories of great simplicity. They themselves  appeared in torn and wretched clothes, but never did their goods appear to degrade in taste, the taste that still sits atop my tongue, and could never be matched by any cuisine. Ah! The beauty of such memories drenches me in this sweetness. The gratitude and the generosity of these men in my life is something that will always light up my life.

I also remember, our “bai”, whose name I do not know, for we always called her that: ”bai”. The care and warmth that she carried in her heart and hands for us is something I have never found again. Her husband, who used to work for us as a man of multiple utility has never been out of my memory, though I really forget his name.

“Shut up! Just Shut Up!” a voice rose from the streets, in thunderous bellows. “I don’t know if I have the authority, and possibly the language to communicate with you, but be quiet. Oh! Don’t look at me like that, you know me very well, of course without knowing my name, which we  aren’t bothered about. It was my service that defined what you would be helped around with. I have been your cook, your bai, your malaiwaala, your errand boy, your sweeeper, your vegetable waalah, your construction worker, and your street vendor. I know, I know, you do not want me to talk, and of course that is not my forte, and what more, we do not have a language that glibly snares people, but since I have been hearing your litany for quite some while now, while attending your chores, I would borrow your tongue and tell you what I really feel, or what I felt all along while you crafted your memories of my sweat and grimaces (which you mostly misunderstood as my smile, courage and grace, your bywords of greatness).

 All your words, languages, buildings, music, books, histories, museums, abstractions do not apply to me. I have already apologized for using your tongue. I didn’t have  that courage and grace that you ascribed to me so benevolently; I didn’t have the culture or God that you planted, on my will to survive. Yes, that was what we were concerned with, our survival. Why, how does culture matter to a rag, to a wretch who is not sure of seeing tomorrow’s sun, who is not going to “hope” with sun rise? No, we didn’t dwell in those false paradises; we dwelt in reality, of existence.

You saw the sweet smile on the face of your peddlers and errand boys, but what you didn’t see was the cunning ploy to further their own existence through those means. The sense of aesthetics that you tried to gloss it with has evoked this diatribe now, for you have perverted the meaning of our entire  class. The class that lives at the fringes of the society perishes at the fringe and at times moves in and out of the delusion of a middle class.

Thus, you may say, what are we? Are we any more than leeches and insects, for that is your adjective of a purposeless and meaningless life, but sadly those adjectives do not play in our lives? Well, we do not have the leisure to muse upon life, our knowledge is built and rebuilt daily in the classroom of streets. The whips carried by the wily taskmaster, keeps us focused on it, which we bear with, for that is what ensures our existence. What would I be without you, you may say, isn’t it? Forget it! You have no existence without me. We have been your fodder upon which you fed so gleefully while constructing your beauties of worldly likes and dislikes. The food that you swallow, the Taj mahal that you marvel at, the roads that you so proudly tread on with your motor, the nation you so passionately talk of, have been all been created by us, without us demanding  fair share of it. Why do not I have my share? Because, you have perverted the meaning of labor. You knew the ways and intricacies through which you would subvert people under you and use them up. Yet, its funny, that it’s you who has been at the receiving end of it. You are the scared, worried, wailing lot. You are still caught in the grips of fear of death, of tomorrow, while we overcame death itself.

Well! Of course, you may say, there is beauty, literature, heritage, progress and civilization associated with you, perhaps nation too. You have got memories created for yourself to hark back to, to write eulogies and wallow between yourself into the greatness of life lead by someone among you. And yet, I know only the greatest among you realize what we do realize day and night, moment after moment, and then those greats no longer subscribe to the value system of your class, they move out. They are the thinkers, the achievers, the creators, the humans that carry you. While, talking about us, we never wallowed in that falseness of nostalgic memory, our only memory was of our sinew's ache and our efforts. We don’t have anything, purely because we never believed in that. Our belief has been in existence, and that we do, through labor, a pure, distilled, labor, the labor that hollowed us before death (in your words), the labor that drew us to death even before we could see the fruition of our effort. So now you may say, we do not have an aim, and thus we are as good as an animal.

You may be right, but again, only in your tongue. In our tongue we call it labor, a pure and simple method to draw livelihood from. We do not create the concepts of capital and passion, we do not fool or swindle people out of the concepts of aesthetics, nations and other such abstractions, and yet you may not believe, we have achieved human perfection, the ultimate goal of our inner self. How, you will say?

By suffering, suffering for every meal, suffering the pangs of hunger, suffering for our own selves. We toiled our body and in that process of toil, which was as simple and pure as a human could, we realized our greatest self. Our sweetest of memories are formed out of those moments that carried us into life from abyss and vice- versa, and yet we do no wallow in those abstractions, for we have absolutes to deal with. The human. The man! The self!

And you toil too, I know, but how often have you been exhausted by it, consumed by it? How often have you realized your god in it? How often have you suffered after having toiled? I am sure you do not have answer to this (if you had you would have been on my side), for you never cared to toil for the swanky house you live in, for the stylish car you drove, for the rich foods that you devoured. They have all been provided to you, or rather presented to you, through the perverse system of human slavery perpetrated by you. And despite all of this, we do not seek answers from you, for it’s rather us who pity you! Life can’t be judged by the number of years, its built out of experiences of self-realization, and we have never failed at that. We live in our self, and we always will,forever and ever!

Thus for long, I have wallowed in your tongue, and that makes me weary, I would rather head to my toil, my suffering and be myself, you may carry on!


just milan ! said...

Refreshing !!! the first few paragraphs brought so many vintage childhood memories.... and so many faces with whom i could not associate any name, appeared in the frame. I was amazed that i still remember so many faces deep within... but have never recollected them since ages. It all happened just by reading the lines you have written. I think that is the greatest compliment I can give to your writings !
And then the contrast... the realization of being so selfish through out dwelled on me.. I really wish I can go back and help them.. But I know that is not going to happen..
Siddharth bhaiya, u are a pro now !

magop said...

kind of snob post.. really

Arunika said...

nicely wallowed .............