“Suppose all that you have always valued in your life was shown to be an illusion. What if your precious beliefs, maxims, platitudes, and traditions were inverted and distorted beyond recognition? You suddenly realize that what is good is bad; what is beauty is foul; what is virtue, vice. What if all your points of reference were to shift: North becomes South; black becomes white; deviant becomes saint; saint becomes deviant. Suppose that this transformation – a metamorphosis of perception – were to come to you and you alone. Suddenly you awake, and in utter solitude you discover that your values have reversed along with you: you are a roach!” (http://www.vr.net/~herzogbr/kafka/).Your world is abruptly and totally changed! This is Gregor portrayed in Kafka’s The Metamorphosis.
I have often wondered what it would be like if all this ever happens to me. If not exactly something as weird/horrible as being changed into an insect, what if all the base on which all my faith lies is suddenly removed – what if I am proved wrong about something I have believed always without doubting once. It is this fear which prevents me in forming any firm opinions/judgements about people/instances/world affairs/good-bad-n-ugly things! But being a rational human being, I have to have some opinions in order to live, the basic requirement of survival is being able to differentiate between good/bad. Even the tiniest of insects (without any brains) are also able to distinguish between things which are harmful to them. Infact it is easier for them, atleast so it seems, they only have to live a physical existence – without a trace of mental/spiritual element in it – and so their world is binary in nature. What hurts is bad, what nourishes is good. Rest all is ignored or kept away from.
We, humans, are also brought up in a similar fashion. And if we stick to out faith-base, we would live a peaceful un-complex life as insects. But no, we have our problems. We question. Then we think. We interact. We change. And we keep doing all this in a circular fashion. And then a point comes when we wonder if we are only moving round & round in the circle just like new Delhi-ites in the CP outer circle. The climax is reached when you know you can’t even verify the right/wrong since the absolute doesn’t exist.
Take for instance a simple example from the lives around any 23-27 yrs old earning-living-their-own-lives (ELTOL) kind of people. Almost all of them drink (liquor ofcourse!). Almost/atleast once a week. Quite a substantial amount. They drink when they meet old friends, they drink while getting de-stressed on Friday night, they drink so as to be able to dance on Saturday night, they drink so as to be able to speak up things they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. If they don’t drink, something’s amiss in life. If nothing else, there are not many other enjoyable activities to get indulged into either. None of them would accept, but each know there is a level of dependency on liquor. The question here would be: SO? What’s wrong in drinking? What’s wrong in depending on something very little harmful as long as you are not addicted? How does it matter if we live upto 80 or not neways? And didn’t a newspaper said once that 1-2-3 peg(s) a week keeps the doctor away?! Hic! I would further question, what’s wrong even if you are addicted? When the question is about right/wrong, who can say what’s wrong with being a drunkard when it makes one happy? Why do look scornfully at those cycle/auto-rickshaw drivers (or any other low class men) who drink away the little income they make during the day? We blame them for not sending their children to good school, for not saving enough for decent living, whereas we ourselves crib about the mindless meaningless job we did in comfy chairs sipping CCD coffee 5 days a week over the booze on the relaxing weekend. Why do we scorn those uncivilised homo sapiens who waste their lives over marijuina/other drugs? Most of these ELTOL believed 10 years back that drinking was harmful. Most of these ELTOL after 10-15 years would tell their children that drinking is harmful. But right now, they are in the other cycle. Which says, drinking is not to be shy-ed away from.
Not that I mean to say that people change completely many a times during their lifetimes. Infact I firmly believe that the real you remains the same. What this real you is, I can’t define appropriately right away. But it definitely doesn’t include what values have been incorporated in you, or what right/wrong has been defined for you/by you. Instead it is very much what The Metamorphosis tries to bring out. What makes you guilty even after you have boldly ridiculed all the virtues held by the world, when you have lost your reputation in the eyes of everyone around you. How quickly all of us accept the new surroundings, and the new self. If or not we are able to we fit ourselves in the fight for survival. And how we forget the past which remains as “My Pictures” folder on your hard disk, sometimes to be looked at. How the circumstances changed you, and how the change in you changes everyone around you. Because they all are also, only trying to fit in.