Monday, April 11, 2011

The Corruption Within..

What a beautiful day it was when the twinkling Reye saw its first daylight, amidst noisy celebrations all around. As months passed by, Reye soon discovered that it was part of one big family. A little wise chap was the Head of their family. Although small in size, Head was powerful enough to exercise control on the rest of the family members. The rhythm and pulse of the family however, was harmonized by another pretty little hard-working chap called Heart. The Head and Heart team were both strong and sensitive drivers of their family. Other members resembled a wide array of characters from an action-packed romantic comedy thriller. The two little brothers, Lear and Rear were known as the best listeners in their family. It had a detective sniffer uncle, an intervening fellow of sorts, that everyone called Nose. The most talkative person was easily Mouth aunty. However, Reye too could communicate a thing or two with a glance, as could its twin sister - Leye, without uttering a single word! The two muscle men and bread earners of the family were Larm and Rarm. And then there were Rfeet and Lfeet, who did most of the running around, indoors and outdoors. It was one large family with many other distinguished members, big and small, most living their lives routinely, untiringly and silently. They all were valuable active contributors towards the well being of the family. What was noteworthy was that most family members did their jobs without any recognition or reward, whatsoever. In a way, quite a few were taken for granted.

In its early days, the family was very poor and had to literally struggle feeding itself. Initially, Head and Mouth had to work really hard to obtain food from their neighbourhood. Many a times, it required extra efforts to cry and beg their neighbours for food and care. Fortunately, there were two very kind and giving neighbours – Mom and Dad, who always seemed to be there to lend their support and love. Gradually, food started being served freely at regular intervals. The family now had time and energy to explore and enjoy other activities too. Lfeet and Rfeet quickly started crawling, and soon learnt to walk and run. They also got used to falling down and getting up, every single time they fell – an habit that would serve the family well in the long run. They used to take the family around many times during the day. Rear and Lear specially enjoyed the place near the piano and the music system. Reye and Leye although, were fond of the balcony where they could see a plethora of wonderful things moving around such as insects, birds, swaying trees and cars. Nose had a liking for the kitchen as well as the garden amidst flowers and fruits. But there were times during the day, when Nose used to be forcibly carried by Lfeet and Rfeet, a couple of times Nose hated the most – a place called the toilet! Life eventually seemed to trot along as a daily celebration for the family, amidst their sessions of eating, walking, running, talking, and singing, dancing, learning, enjoying growing up.

And then one day, their celebration got rudely interrupted when they all landed in a place; the Ear heard was called a Hostel. The family was, simply dropped by their most trust worthy neighbours, Mom and Dad, in this unknown surrounding. Amidst their outpouring protests and vehement cries, Mom and Dad left, just like that. It was not that there had been no forewarning, but it probably did not sync-in until the moment of truth stared the family in its face. A tsunami of shock, disbelief, sorrow, frustration, anger and hate destroyed the palace of trust built, ever so lovingly and caringly, between the family and the neighbours over several years. Amidst gloom, the family soon realized that there were other families too around them, bigger and smaller, suffering the same pain, but coping with it in quite different ways. It took several weeks for the family members to gather themselves together, and get adapted to this new life, albeit in their own different ways.

Head took a more pragmatic approach, having learnt one big ugly lesson in life, of misplaced trust. Heart thought was not as unforgiving. It refused to reconcile to the sorrow situation. It continued to hope that there must be something good that none of them were aware of, and their erstwhile neighbours would soon be back to take them home. Loud Mouth suddenly seemed to have developed a liking for remaining silent, unless drawn into a conversation. Leye and Reye gradually saw the futility in shedding tears and instead teamed up with Lear and Rear to curiously explore their new surroundings. The rest of the family members recovered quickly, and continued to do their work, as usual. Everyone though had noticed the subtle difference in perception and attitude that Head and Heart had exhibited, in response to the sudden change in their lives. Unknown to them was the fact that this subtle change was the beginning of an era of a much larger conflict about to unfold within the family, over the next couple of decades.

Hostel life was like a string of routine activities tied to the hands of the family clock. Gradually, life changed from being a creative unpredictable daily celebration, into a disciplined, predictable, activity and result oriented daily routine. Head adapted itself remarkably well. In fact, it started liking the routine unlike Heart. Heart continued beating in ever undying hope that the erstwhile neighbours would come back one day and rescue the family out of this routine, mundane mess. When things did not change over several weeks, Heart often felt frustrated, only to be consoled and momentarily convinced by Head, that it was important to live the moment that cry out of it. Many amongst the family could relate with Heads practical, point of view. However a few members including Leye, Reye and Mouth seemed to have thoughts in sync with Hearts point of view. Both Head and Heart respected each other, as did the rest of the family. They all knew that both were equally essential for the smooth functioning of their family. However, despite their hope, the situation seemed to gradually slide into a hopeless, silent divide.

Head wanted to stay put and make the most out of their situation. Heart seemed to be strongly inclined to run away, back to their earlier neighbourhood – convinced that they would be welcomed back warmly and lovingly. Head wanted the family members to start pursuing excellence in their areas of interests such as sports, poetry, music, dramatics, academics and whatever was feasible within a given framework and timeframe, amongst dozens of activities and pursuits. Heart, on the contrary was more inclined to build relationships with other families around, in the hope that one day, it would gather enough support to cause a rebellion of sorts, to break all the rules that existed. This, Heart thought, would create an ideal situation that would enable it to go back to its beautiful, creative neighbourhood, while either destroying or running away from its “prison” Hostel. As members within the family started aligning themselves, the fault lines started widening. Life, for the family, was no longer the beautiful harmony from the past. Every day, it witnessed scenes of each one pushing and pulling, in conflicting directions.

Despite the conflicts, the family stayed together as one cohesive unit. Head gradually became a powerful decision maker and had the support of most of the family members. Over the weeks, Heart and its supporters too fell in line and in the process lost their natural rhythm, creativity and hope. Head understood this completely and did its best to get them around to see reason in its point of view. Head had quite a success stories to narrate from the various activities that its supporters had won recognition in. In a way, the Heart had no choice but to start believing what it saw, rather than continue dreaming about the reality that it would have liked to see happen. Over the months, the differences within the family seemed to have swept away by the waves of success. However, only the Heart truly knew how deep the divide had grown deep down, under the calm surface. The family had transformed itself into a unit well in sync, amidst the regiment of other families.

So strong was the transformation, that even when the family had several opportunities over the years to return back to their erstwhile neighbourhood, they all seemed to feel out of place in their old undisciplined environment and longed to return back. Surprisingly, Mom and Dad were only too happy for the family and the neighbourhood too was very proud of them all.

The family eventually moved from one Hostel to another, and then from one city to another. While their neighbours had initiated them into this journey, many years ago; it was now a way of life for the family. All along, it continued to pile up its success stories - initially in the world of academics, sports and extra-curricular activities, subsequently in the corporate business world of product/services, profit/loss and later on in the power play of politics, fame and fortune. Success, in the initial years had been a celebratory outcome in their journey through hard-work, dedication and co-ordinated efforts put in by respective family members, towards achieving goals being pursued by family members. While success used to be a celebration, failure too would be an occasion to celebrate some other neighbouring families’ successes, while reflecting on their own shortcomings, before they all moved on in life to the next competition or challenge. However, none within the family got to know when their journey transformed from a celebratory pursuit of joy and learning into an aggressive pursuit of a destination called success.

Not known to anyone, Head had secretly conspired and made Success, the only way of life to be pursued, by all means, by all members of the family. It had started in little ways, such as copying small answers during examinations; or stealing bits and pieces of luxury items such as fragrance bottles and imported toiletries from other families. Soon, the success goals became bigger and the means meaner. Lies were available for use freely; money was borrowed without any intent to pay back. Relationships were formed purely based on their momentary ‘val-use’ rather than long cherished values. Trust was just another piece of secret weapon to be used or rather misused, purely to achieve the desired results. Gratitude did not matter; all that mattered was an only-win attitude. Success was measured using the two magic words – Fortune and Fame. The silent disease of corruption within was now full blown, irreversibly. But who cared, as long as the world applauded its success!

Then, one day – Heart suddenly felt a severe jolt that shook the family as well. Head had no clue about what had happened. The entire family got into an emergency huddle. Each one reflected on their journey so far. Head remembered the moment of truth that had stared the family in its face many decades ago, and how it had led the family out of its gloom into their astonishing journey of success, fame and fortune. Despite that, no one now seemed to have any means or the resources to protect the Heart and the rest of the family. Head realized that although Heart remained loyal to him and the family, the stress of “success by all means”, had been rather too much to bear. Heart kind of exploded like a dormant volcano suddenly erupting. The prized life of success achieved through the path of corruption within, seemed to now have a price tag that was unaffordable and rather too painful. Head had nowhere to hide its misery. Every success felt worthless. But it was a bit too late in the day for the family. Heart went to sleep, one last time and the rest of the family members had no choice but to followed suit. Reye, was the last to sleep forever, sadly not able to twinkle anymore, at the beautiful world around.

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