Empathy is the Enemy

If I shut my eyes real tight, and think of the rain, I can see the World that I once used to be part of. I can see the gray, cobbled path lined with green trees, swaying in the wind, their branches laden with red, violet and yellow flowers(1) scattering with the blowing wind. I can see the green stretching out for miles and miles while I stood on top of our little world, with the kind of  engaging and attentive company that would make war-chiefs and rulers envious. I can see the light through shadowy trees in the distance, on the ground far below. I can see the moon, always watching, always listening. And, all those shooting stars, and all those wishes.

I remember being stranded due to the rain; it’s only then that you have the opportunity to really watch it. On terraces, in class, on my birthday, and once, a long time ago, an evening that seems to be branded into my mind forever. It was at the very beginning, nearly six years ago. Everything was new. And, my dreams hadn’t even been begun to breathe. The World was wide, and I stood at the brink of a glorious, beautiful journey. Nothing failed to delight me. And, I especially loved the rain.

Humanity hadn’t proved its collective callousness to me yet. No one I knew had ever been murdered in a dark alley simply because they dared to fight back. The AFSPA, which I was just beginning to hear about, seemed to me the most horrible act of brutality against the citizens of the Indian State. I didn’t know about the insane rate of prevalence of custodial torture. Didn’t realize how the Rule of law could not be said to be in place when it was available only to certain factions of society. Didn’t know how low the value of human life really was in this country. Or how the government didn’t care. Didn’t know, didn’t know, didn’t know.

And, now, six years later, I still know so little. But so much more than I used to. And, I find myself so much more ashamed of my species. It’s not despite the good we can do. It’s because of it. Because even though we are capable of amazing things, at our worst, there is no species alive as brutal, thoughtless and mean as us.

Apathy and Compassion have both moved me to action in their time. But, today, I feel most affected by the apathy of compassion, and the compassion of apathy. I can’t care about things anymore. It’s truly a pointless affair. But, I remember how I felt before, and I know I have to do something.

As human beings, we can barely take care of ourselves in this bizarre, weird world. But, if I had next to nothing, or if I was being wrongly exploited, I’d want people to at least bother to notice and recognize that it was wrong. And, are we not supposed to do unto others as we would like done to ourselves?

What I miss most about the me from six years ago is the way the World came alive under my feet, and before my eyes. Today, I see nothing and avoid everything, reacting to only those things that I cannot ignore. What duty do I have to anyone except myself? None. None at all. But, if this is a game, and we’re allowed to challenge the rules, and I hate them as they stand, well, it’s up to me to at least try and change things.

I’m going to end with an analogy that may seem oversimplified/childish, but it’s totally true. Life is a party with free entry. The cover charge is eventual death, and for that price, you can do whatever you want at this party. Now, there are going to be the organizers, there are going to the popular people who influence the organizers, there are people who are going to be in charge of the music, etc. Now, this party could be completely to your taste, in which case, having a blast is amazingly simple. But, if you hate the scene in its entirety, you have a few options available to you:

1. Wander around until you find a small group of people like yourself
2. Do what you can to make the party more fitting to your taste

I found myself a group, and I do what I have to in order to do what I want to. Always have. But, at some point of time, I think it stops being enough. I think it stops being enough that you can do what you want as long as you don’t get caught, when you’re not harming anybody. I hate victimless crimes, because these take away from all the instances of real brutality on our streets, where real people await justice from made-up systems that continue to fail them.

I want to be young again, because I miss the way the rain felt on my skin, and the wind in my hair, and the Universe coursed through my veins.

I want to be young again, because betrayal leaves a horrid after-taste, and I am tired of disappointment.

Sigh, as that song says, “I’m not upset at you, life. I am amazed.”

Who wants to sleep in a city that never wakes up, blinded by Nostalgia?


(1) outside the acad block, next to the basketball court and behind my hostel building, respectively.


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