All of us have a collective consciousness which helps us to live harmoniously in the social set up and a personal one which is unique to us and defines our individuality or persona. It is the latter which differentiates us from others and makes us special. That is why God has created each one of us in an exclusive mould. This distinctiveness is the greatest gift of nature bestowed on us, ensuring an enviable position among all other species. I shudder to think of the crazy and scary world of sameness depicted by Aldous Huxley in his negative (hedonistic) utopia, “The Brave New World” It is actually a warning to the world leaders to maintain human dignity in the face of unscrupulous capitalism.
Though science has explained the universal phenomenon in rationalistic parameters, and has debunked the myths which were the product of ignorance and fear about the mysteries surrounding us, yet not even the psychoanalysts have succeeded in unraveling the complexities of the human psyche. At best their findings are half baked and require extensive research.
This dichotomy has proved to be a gold mine for the literary artist to try to excavate the multi layers of human consciousness to create a treasure trove of literary collage, delineating man in his infinite avatars.
The individual peculiarities are a fodder for this write up of mine. The writer’s muse doesn’t distinguish between high or low; rich or poor; illiterate or educated while taking up the subject of the discourse. My story below is based on the above premise.
I hired Urmi (name changed) as a part time help for our short sojourn in the hills. Within a few days, she became quite free with me. She’d narrate sourly her quarrels with her husband and also that he was good for nothing and spent all his earnings on alcohol. She rued the fact that whenever she protested he'd beat her up. She went on and on with similar stories every other day. Naturally I was moved and always sympathised with her and soothed her.
One day, however, she really amazed me. While mopping the floor she started conversing and when I referred to her husband’s unsavory ways in some context, she sprang to his defence and said, “Ma’am ji, a husband is a husband! What is a woman’s life without a husband? Yesterday when I reached home from work he had prepared dinner for me and served me himself.” The statement amused and touched me for its pure subjectivity in favour of her husband.
Another thing which intrigued me about Urmi was her habit of knocking at the door when she came to work. I told her repeatedly not to disturb me and enter right away, as I left the door unlatched about the time of her visit. But she kept the practice ignoring my insistence to the contrary. I tried many times to make her disclose the reason behind this particular action of hers, but she’d give me an enigmatic smile and looked the other way. That meant I better adjust.
Apart from this, Urmi followed unexplainable and tough principles which were hard for her and her employer. One day I asked her to transfer the vegetable from the cooker into a bowl and take it home. After finishing the job she left. When I went to the kitchen to prepare dinner, I found the cooker washed clean and cooked vegetable was indeed transferred to the bowl but surprisingly it was not taken by her. The next day when I questioned her, she excused herself by saying, that in haste she forgot it completely. It was believable. A few days later the same thing happened again. I was enraged and compelled her to tell me the truth. Some persuasion and she came out with it. “Ma’am ji, I’ll take only that which is directly given in my hands by you. I don’t take things by myself.” Her logic was hard to comprehend but I was rendered speechless.
In this confused and cynical world, this poor hill woman had her own strange values to live by and had the guts to stick to her convictions. I really admired her faith in herself and her simplicity. She was indeed a woman of a kind!