Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Letter

Mon Amie,

I can’t take it anymore. I can’t. How can one tolerate denial of breath for three years in a row? I know I still exist and there might be many millions of people who are in a worse condition than mine. But I’ll still cry. I’ll still shout until I’m hoarse. I’ll still bite the tail of my ball-pen while writing to you. I need a yell, believe me. I badly do. Everybody is a stranger here and I am stranded among a lost world. Did I dream for this day? Did 'we' dream for this day? It’s not disillusionment. It’s death. I die every moment among these people… these people who are the elite femme intellectuals of our city. They talk Neruda. They eat bhutta. They drink anything from unending cups of tea to gin with lime or vodka. They dream in nostalgic fumes of Charminar. Yet I can feel their realities. Unfortunate, but true, I easily can. Very precisely. Do want to know?

They are dolls. Highly fashionable and somewhat pretty dolls. They care more for manicure than for poetry. They might talk about Neruda, but in sleep, all dream of Eric Segal. They prefer McDonald’s hot-dogs much more to bhutta only if they had been cheaper and more in vogue!!! They like to fret over extremely silly and at times irritatingly nyaka love affairs, not to mention the teenage crap about ‘crushes’. They go through the T2 page of The Telegraph with better attention than class notes. They merely need an excuse to switch on from discussing poetics to bitching about friends, relatives and neighbors, a topic they feel more at ease with, of course. No matter how much bangali their PNPC is, they regard Bengali culture as shit and consider people singing Bengali polli-geeti or the likes (and not MLTR or Backstreet Boys) as uncultured and illiterate tribals. They adore anything Western as sophistication and shun anything Bengali as crudeness. No, I don’t have any objection. I adore different kinds. They add spice to the boredom called life. The problem lies in the fact that they cannot tolerate or accommodate people who admire things that they don’t and not those that they do. Nor are they prepared to accept their true selves, their realities. They love to suffer from the voluntary illusion that they are superior in all possible ways from those who do not accept this idea to be true or those who don't not follow their ways. From the very first week in college, I’ve been marginalized as the girl who is darkly mysterious. Why? Because I dare to live life my way. I don’t go to a parlor except for haircuts. I have a close-cropped and extremely short hairstyle in order to allow my neck proper ventilation. I prefer T-Shirts to balloon-tops. I believe looking beautiful in my mirror instead of in the mirror of their eyes. I don’t have a boyfriend. And my best friend without whom life would have been hell is another girl.

It amazes me. It thrills me. It sends a shiver down my spine. Is this the elite? Is this the intelligentsia? Is this the cream? If this is it, I admit, I feel nauseated. There was a time when I used to laugh at them in the same way we all laugh at Belinda as she mourns the loss of her lock. I felt pity and mirth and blinked with mercy towards their fetish for ‘normality’… their crazy desire to be appreciated by the male gaze and vehement denial of its appropriating side-effects… their whispers about attraction and sex under the common name of 'love'… their binary world of the good and the bad… their extreme yet unquenched curiosity about my ‘world’ to which I straightly denied them any access… their taboo of homosexuality… their water-tight definitions of relationships… everything…

But no. Not still. I’ve had enough. I need a break. I need a holiday- a holiday from which I will no longer need to return. I want some sleep. A college filled with falsities and biases repels me to no extent. I refuse to respect an institution that cannot trust its students with maintaining decency and following proper discipline. Is there any other college in this city that subjects its female students to a ‘dressing-code’? Are we kids, rowdy and untamable, waiting for any moment of slackness from the authority in order to bring out our inherent animosity and ruin the name of the college? If the authority believes so, let me announce, it cannot control it with a thousand dress codes and disciplinary measures. We all will break out as far as we can. And when time for release from this Foucaultan space will come, when fear of expulsion or punishment that now constantly hovers around us will subside, I’ll ensure that people henceforth give a second thought before admitting themselves to a college where most of the colleagues are intolerant, silly, lacking any substance and where the authorities leave no opportunity of exercising dictatorial anarchy in the name of order and discipline.

All I did all these years is pray. I prayed desperately. And regularly. Otherwise I would have lost my sanity from this constant attempt to maintain minimum society in college. And of course, the teaching helped. Teachers of our department are the only positive light that saved me from falling into the bottomless pit of acute depression. And there was my family. My not-so-intolerant friends, who can accept, understand and appreciate me in the way I am. And you. If there is still life, it’s because you people still exist. Thank you for being with me. Thank you for being the way you are.

I’ll have to end my letter here. Our end-semester exams are drawing close. I need to study a hell lot of things, not to mention the mugging up. It’s too lonely out here… this me and my books… but then, it is probably my ‘shadow line’ phase as Conrad calls it, eh?

Wish me luck and see you as soon as my exam ends.
[This Letter is a dedication to Poushali, my friend, philosopher and guide, who is indeed undergoing a 'twilight' phase in her life.]