I grew up in the communist state of West Bengal. The only religion that the state advocated was loyalty to the Party. The ideology itself was bigger than nationality, any other fraternity or even humanity. It was hammered in people’s consciousness that going to a temple was blasphemy, mark of an ignorant fool, to perish in the fires of wasted beliefs. I do not know if the peoples out there really took such an idea by heart but most seemed to brandish themselves as elite atheist, both elite and atheist being synonymous in the core of Bengali mindset, then. It was expected that I would grow up to be a self-sustaining person sans affinity for the archetype. But something went wrong. I found an uncanny attachment to questioning; the present, more than the past that is.
Scholars are of the opinion that people usually identify themselves along two pieces of framework: Primordial and Situational. Primordial mostly depicts one’s inherent ethnic character that remains a constant statuesque where as Situational vary through the sands of time and place. There is supposed to be yet another dimension by which one relates to oneself. To project aberration in order to stand out in the crowd. For example, if there are three White Caucasian females in a room and one white Caucasian male, then the man would identify himself as a man rather than a Caucasian. Samuel P. Huntington writes in relations to the multi-polar, multi-civilizational world: We know who we are only when we know who we are not and often only when we know whom we are against.
In the mental tug of war between the known and the unknown, I splurged in the wave of disassociations. For it is easier to disregard who you are supposed to be than admit who you are! It felt right and immensely en vogue to be able to dissipate in the roaring crowds, win the race of vicissitude and make myself visible in the eyes of urban spread. But then, there was a time when the empty cacophony of the make-believe surrounding posed a jarring threat. It was the moment of truth when I had to decide on the pattern of my route to existence. Whether to know or to perish in anonymity.
I had to go away to find myself. As I came back I learned that this was the last thing I wanted to do. It’s hard not to like what you see out there in the mirror. It’s even harder to judge objectively. The reflection remains the same you see, only the light changes forming an unusual chiaroscuro of your inner self. Change, they say is good and I had a lot of it, so much so that I was without a footing then. Or maybe even now. But the process wouldn’t disappoint as the changing self does once in while. I finally fell back to the mantra of the ancient. To know thyself.
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