Belonging to a middle-class family, he had seen himself growing up in an idiosyncratic downtown that had stoutly groomed many good characters as well as good customs. Inspired by them, he had imbibed certain resolute beliefs. His roots had existed as an interweaving factor to guide him in crucial decision-making in life. From opting for a career to choosing a spouse, he had grounded himself within those parameters.
He basked under criticism. ‘Downtown middle-class mentality’: this was his impeachable brand- quality. He would parade it proudly, and in return receive a verbal modicum of sarcastic approval.
Things were moving on nicely till increasingly awful congested downtown forced him to buy a small house in so-called posh civil lines and settle there for good. A warm nestle of comfort was lost out. Initially, he did not stumble on anything ‘uncivilized’ about the new place. Rich people; palatial houses; luxurious cars; gaudy dresses; and of course, superficial smiles and shallow success—it was an unknown world for him to get acquainted with.
The first nuisance dropped in. The next-door landlady started to pop up often. The nagging woman was a leading gossiper who would spend hours with his better-half in the kitchen. Golden ornaments; expensive clothing; surplus money; social status and style—the vocabulary of the kitchen was changing. ‘Rebellion’ was getting cooked up slowly. More precisely, it emanated as a Kitchen Resistance. The pushy wife became demanding and discontented. Making finicky comparisons was her routine now. This made him irritable and grumpy. He had never imagined that life will turn so glum and gloomy. A cheerless ambience enshrouded him. The life beyond this life seemed to be a closed chapter as he found people around him rejoicing the rebellion even against God. He was a misfit cruising in a missed world.
His means were adequate to lead a humble life; a pompous lifestyle had no room. Being a rank officer, he could have easily accumulated wealth through unscrupulous ways, but his ‘anachronistic conviction’ always stopped him. His subordinates ridiculed him for being honest and termed his uprightness as ‘gullibility’. Teasing him on petty matters or engaging him in trivialities, he was psychologically haunted. Corruption was so overruling and superseding that it took his mental toll to resist it. He experienced uncertainty as the conflict between what he believed in and what he saw around gave rise to a moral dilemma. However, he knew that when values conflict, choices are to be made and thus, his strong will overpowered. This, notwithstanding the fact, that he was frequently transferred from one place to another, and at times dumped in Official Cells.
Even the social circles were torturous and tormenting for him. He proved to be an odd one out. He failed to live up fallaciously. It was an ordeal to exchange and maintain social connections which had turned into simple ‘liabilities’. He could not manage spending extravagantly on various social occasions. Most of his relatives would look down upon him as a broke on the breadline. Nonetheless, he journeyed on. Guileless.
Religion for him was not a ritual to celebrate. He wasn’t a staunch believer but he won’t exhibit his genuine fanaticism for public consumption. ‘Exhibition’ of any sort wasn’t his worldview. He meant Depth. He meant Faith. Unflinching one. That’s why, he would vocally nullify anything reeled off without meaning or mere hypocrisy packed off in the name of religion. Gimmickry with cant and empty religious rhetoric was unacceptable to him.
Nobody was happy with him. He would shoot from the hip. Complain to a shopkeeper indulging in black marketing. Argue with a bus driver for violating road rules and playing with the safety of passengers. Object to approach of youngsters towards life. Openly demur about the leaders failing in their tasks. Oppose anything that was not correct to his thinking. People had named him unsolicited ‘confrontationist’: a crabby fellow spoiling for a fight!
He was labeled as a ‘maverick’ whenever he spoke his heart out. Blatantly scoffed at, it but never surprised him. There was nothing he could do to stop whatever pained him.
He retired as an ordinary official. A scarce pack of pension was all that he got for slogging the prime years of his life in upholding things which made him anonymous. But what’s significant is that he carried no regrets. For anything..
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK