Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Thoughts Triggered by the October Heat

Had some work in the bank. So went there early in the morning. We are creatures of habit and once in a while we should wake up at an odd hour and do things differently. Well, the air was fresh, the walk was refreshing, the train was crowded as usual. I then felt the heat closing in on me. The October heat, piercing, sweltering, sweat-inducing, making your brain boil ever so strongly you become mad with the uneasiness. Heat that could disorient and make you dither. I could smell the sweat of the man next to me, a cop from the khaki trouser he was wearing.

I contemplated violence, wanted to push him away. We feel violent when we are uncomfortable. Violence can even be based on a thought, a fleeting impression. People feel violent when their space is violated. I felt violated because my space was violated by this man. There could be violence when your belief and faith is violated. I thought of him as someone inferior. I don't know why. Our country has been a victim of this sort of violence and still is. We think violently about people who are different from us. Later in the day – nothing personal – I realised a suave woman could also be violent with her words. Induced violence. When we are disgusted, our disgust magnifies, we become animals, we become mad. It's the madness that saw killing, burning, stabbing in the genocide-like uprisings that the north of the country has witnessed over the years. Mass hysteria, mass madness, mass paranoia.

Scratch us, our thin veneer and there's an animal hiding beneath the smooth and polished exterior. When threatened we commit violence. When provoked we react without thought. There's no escaping it, no hiding it.

In the train which is so crowded you can only breath if you turn your nose to the ceiling, there's suppressed violence waiting to emit from almost everybody. We give out grunts, looks, glares of displeasure when we feel violent. We make our violence known in non-violent ways. That way Gandhiji's satyagraha also was an act of violence, getting back at his violators. Jesus who taught us to turn the other cheek was also venting his displeasure at the people who oppressed him.

Violence also transmits violence. Like the boss transmits it to his subordinates, the teacher to his students, the dog to the cat and the cat to the mouse and, so on and so forth, without end.

No, today, in the sweltering boiling heat of October I didn't commit violence. That's because I know violence will only harm me.

No comments: