Sunday, 12 June 2016

The eternal debate

Going through the pages of Hamlet in his courtyard, he was contemplating over each quote he had underlined during his previous reads of that eternal play. Hamlet by William Shakespeare. No introduction is needed for it. The most tragic play by Shakespeare which ironically was the most realistic according to him. Yes, he felt it was pragmatic. He saw the questions asked in the play as his questions. He felt his thoughts had a voice. Hamlet discusses the eternal debate:
To be or not to be-that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And, by opposing, end them.” The universal debate of every existence encapsulated in these simple words. Should he suffer silently or should he oppose and take arms against the sea of troubles? He found out about his father a few months ago, he knew his entire family had lived in deception. An illusion of truth and happiness. What would happen if he chose to face this sea of trouble and tried to end it? What would happen if this mirage ended? For all those years, every evening when he used to sit with him, his face lied. His face was deceptive. He wondered, can a face lie? A person sure can. But can his eyes lie?
He had always believed in the purity of the face. He believed in the truth that a face reflects. He was at a traffic jam once. Sitting in an air conditioned car, looking at the crowd, he had the idea how each single entity has their own story. He had the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as his own, possibly pondering over the same question, to be or not to be, populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness. He knew how little all his doubts and dilemmas mattered to the world and how many other people might have a similar dilemma which he would never know of. He would never come to know of their existence. He would be experiencing so less of the world. Although he would definitely be a flicker in someone else’s movie. Maybe a background character sipping coffee somewhere or a person in the crowd at the traffic. But does it matter? Guess not.
He saw a rickshaw puller standing on the side of the road looking directly at his car. He saw his face. The face which in his opinion never lied. A reflection of a person’s true self. An echo of a person’s thoughts. A manifestation of every incident that had shaped him. Every single line on his face told a story. Every flicker of the eyelids spoke of all those moments the face had witnessed. Pain, sadness, guilt, joy, wrath, disgust, trust, anticipation, surprise, kindness, love, envy, you name it, the face had experienced it all. The muscles of his face had contracted and dilated in every possible way. Each and every cell of his face had multiple stories to tell. He sat there looking at the rickshaw puller. He wanted to talk to him. He wanted to hear his story, he felt sympathetic, he felt empathetic, he felt human. How had his childhood been? How did his father react when he found out that his son smokes? What was his face like when he gave his first salary to his parents? How did his wife react when he asked her for marriage? How did he react when he took his baby in his hands for the first time? What was his face like when he cremated his parents? Now that he is looking at the car with such innocence, what of his ambitions. He must have had some ambitions. He would have thought when he was just a child that he would have own a car, his children would study in a big university and he would take them out on holidays in that car. He would have planned his parent’s first visit to his new home. Or did he? Was it the rickshaw puller’s thoughts he was thinking about or was it his own thoughts he was trying to impose on the poor rickshaw puller. He always thought about the portraits he saw at art galleries. He wondered about the beautiful pictures of people he saw which captured the instant. The expression on their faces in those portraits and pictures, were they reflecting the truth? Or only a small part of the truth. Or maybe nothing. Maybe it’s our very own thoughts that we want to impose on the picture. Maybe the portrait doesn’t say anything. Maybe we make it speak. It is we who give the picture a story and a life. What other reason can there be for a picture to have varied opinion. But what did he see on his face? Why is it this difficult to understand a person? Why can’t human beings be simple?
The frustration of not being able to comprehend the extent of human emotions was unbearable for him. Going ahead with the book, he saw a quote. Hamlet says to Ophelia, “God has given you one face, and you make yourself another.” Maybe it’s difficult to understand a person because you can never see his true face. Layers and layers of masks until there is nothing but ugly bare skull. The way we human beings are programmed makes it much more difficult to realize your true self. But then what had he seen on her face that day? It seemed like innocence and truth. The smile was genuine and pristine. The way she rolled her eyes away from him, the way her lips parted but no word could come out of them, the way she dropped her head and started searching for something on the ground, a way to end the awkwardness maybe, wasn’t that enough truth for him? Wasn’t that ample amount of honesty a face can reflect? Was her face not indicating enough candour for him to recognize what she was deep down inside?
Maybe he was trying to read too much on a simple face. Maybe it was just an amalgam of emotions that the moment had created. But the urge of understanding everything is ruthless. One tends to go crazy. One demands answers. There is a madness, an obsession of trying to complicate things. He was obsessed with things, emotions, feelings. The characters in the books he read were not enough for him. He wanted to get under the skin of the people he met. He wanted to know everything. He wanted to hear their story, maybe share his story with them too. He wished to have a diary. A human diary. He wanted to catalogue all his emotions. He wanted to articulate all the events that happened in his not so busy days. He also wanted a novel. Because every person was a collection of characters. He wished to read and comprehend to the fullest extent the poem called a person. Yes! He believed every human was a poem.
Poems are always beautiful, so are humans. A Human, just like a poem makes us feel multitudes of emotions. There are some of our most favorite poems and there some that didn’t touch us in a deep way. But that is a subjective opinion. And the face is like the poem’s title. It says everything about the poem. It encapsulates the entire existence of that poem in itself.
But which face is the real one? The one which we portray in front of others? In meetings, in presentations, in parties. Probably not. Possibly the one which we have when we kiss our child, when we see a smile on our lover’s face, when we see a sense of relief on our parent’s face. Why can’t we always have that face? Why do we have to change our face every single time a new entity enters our life? Why can’t our life be simple? Or is it? He believes it is simple, he complicates it. Complicates it with these thoughts. The battle between these two faces of an existence, between these two halves of identity; who we are and who we pretend to be, is unwinnable. This question is inevitable. The inevitability of the rising of this question is a routine. Every day, he wakes up a different man but somewhere, this question remains the same.
There is no way we can differentiate between these two faces. Maybe because of the fact that there aren’t two faces. There is just one. The one which has seen all, witnessed everything. The one which was a spectator of every positive incident one can think of. The same face was a silent observer of every evil deed done. This duality is what we need. This ambivalence is enough to drive us crazy, but we don’t become mad. We remain sane. Call it ignorance if you wish, but this sanity is what helps us remain ‘civilized’.

We, the protagonists of our very own personal ‘Hamlets’, are a product of centuries of programming. This sanity is the gift to us by our ancestors. It’s our choice which would make our play climactic or anti-climactic. It’s we who has to choose, to be or not to be. 

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