“habits” cajetan declared in the common room.
Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
― Mahatma Gandhi—quote unquote,
“whoo, Gandhi, cha Gandi” screamed someone,”habit was such a thing if you were to chop its head a bit would remain, if you take out the a bit would remain, it took out the b it would still remain.”
“ha! Ha! How funny, what about you uncle what do you think?” “Uncle” was the class called Sameer for he was a little older than most of them.
Sameer, smiled he was not really part of this conversation, but being with his classmates gave him fodder for thought, until he wrote.—writing now that was a habit in him.
It was a habit, something Sameer did often in a regular and repeated way, each day he would sum the day, the good bad, and ugly. Sometimes the past crept upon him through the present. Episodes of the days before he arrived at Goa, Kashmir, where the valley flowed to form the river bed, over which the sparkling waters flowed.
The carefree days the college, but were they really carefree, not really the underlying fear and a stifled feeling did linger as an aftermath.
Then came the bomb blast where his aunt and mother had died. They had been walking to the bazaar, after the blast his grandparents shifted down to goa but his father chose to stay back at Kashmir, though Sameer came down to JNU and then to Goa.
At JNU too his was habit that got him attention, his tendency to dress in the conventional Kashmiri fashion, with an alfi. People thought him to be a fanatic.
That probably was bring people into mainstream. Whether it was John from the NE or it was him their traditional wear made them butt of many jokes, sometimes people were weary of them. If john was called a Chinese, he was called a terrorist.
He had taken refuge in his habit, of writing, it was his way of finding his space. Then he found a part time job as a presenter of youth today at the doordarshan that kind of made him even unpopular, maybe because he had become the face of a generation that was clueless to his experience in life despite being contemporaries. He had developed a sense of humor something that protected him from the other.
Sameer would spend a lot time almost everyday just to sit and think. That was something very uncommon in the youth of Delhi, he read, he thought, he made less wild nights and drug scenes and impulsive decisions than his peers. He did it because he liked that kind of life, his passion for his home and his commitment to journalism.
The habit of thinking and inquiring had creeped on him, they were too weak to felt then suddenly he discovered they were too strong to be broken. Somewhere he realized there was nothing to writing one just had to sit down and bleed so much to pound the keys.
Somewhere the conversation had turned to crimes, “kuch to bolo uncle, array you are a journalist, why do you think crime happens?”
“simple, wine, women and wealth. Look at the statistics of crime, it shows that the nature of crime in the country is reverting to its oldest habits. So many desire status, wealth, that causes stress and petty annoyances can spark disproportionate violent behaviour. We become frustrated because we feel fowerless, invisible, unheard. We crave celebrity, but thats not easy to come by. So we are happy being notorious.envy and bitterness drive a new breed of lawbreakers old motives of poverty and need for escape is replaced.”
“how does one solve new crimes?”
Well that was food for thought indeed. Did the random shooting, measure up as crimes? He remembered the days after his mother died in the bomb-blast, seeing her being thrown like a rag had left him shocked. For three whole days he had stayed totally paralyzed. His friends helped him to the bathroom, and anywhere else he needed to move but he had vague impressions of those days, it was a time of complete darkness. Somebody told him later that what he had , was a form of hysteria, his body his mind fled into paralysis. There was nothing wrong with him organically, but somewhere inside he suffered a complete breakdown.
Then came the interrogation, the hushed whispers of the people, the sobs of his grandmother and then Rashid his friend was killed, that was one other time his whole body reacted to the fear and went out of his own control. His nerves had come apart comepletley and he had started vomiting and vomiting till he could not stop. The escape had been narrow, he kept telling him self that he could take the pressure of the fear laced life at the valley, but there were those times his body almost seem to shut itself down, when he heard the news of some friend being taken to custody or being shot down, it was as if his whole self including his body wanted to scream that what was happening was too much. Yet the dictionary seem to define the word with such simplicity, a failure of a machine to function, an occurance in which a machine stops working.
Which machine wondered Sameer, the machine called man or the machine called government that he created. Actually the breakdown was probably in a failure of a relationship between the Kashmiri’s and the people who wanted to exploit it, be it India, be it Pakistan. He remembered the days before his new lease of life at JNU, all reality about him seemed to now appear to be in tatters, taken down and reduced to civil war of fits particles. Yet he had held on, very very tight indeed because in addition to that feeling that disintegration, there was rage. He wanted to break something. Someone, if not anything just cutlery.