Last year when we were just new to the institute the research scholars planned a trip. It then excited me to see research scholars going to an amusement park. And I often wondered why an amusement park was called one. After an hour there I understood why. While visiting different stalls and rides my attention was drawn to a crowd howling and screaming around a dais. As I neared the group I realized it was a stall called “statue man” There on a dais stood a man immobile. Without twitching a muscle and batting an eyelid. He was dressed in yellow robes and a turban resembling a gatekeeper of olden days.People were trying to make him laugh and talk or at least twitch a muscle. Some even tried verbal abuses and throwing pebbles. For me time froze for a second, I felt like those sci-fi movies where people froze and I was looking around detaching myself. To me this was no game and that man who stood there mute was not an amusement. What must have made him choose this job I thought? And like the MC Donald ads it lighted in my head “SUSTENANCE”. The same need that makes a soldier march with chest held high to Kargil and ends of the earth which we decoratively label and package as Patriotism and serve to elite intellectuals in form of war movies. Do we still believe, two soldiers wearing two different uniforms guarding the LOC just kill each other on war front screaming national slogans? And bullets piercing their skins are too light for them to fall on the field with a smile and hold the soil of motherland in fist, uttering patriotic dialogues, feeling no pain, remorse, and fear for death and love for life? I would call this a duty for sustenance and for which man would do any duty. And no soldier would refrain from shooting another person for this sustenance because if he doesn’t kill him he would kill me. Then how is it a war of patriotism? To them who stand at two sides of LOC perhaps sharing a smoke and listening to same radio station, the concept of self and other, nation and border has transcended way beyond what the limited minds of our so called educated, elitist, perverted politicians, media and ‘aam junta’ has in store.
I looked at the statue man again, wondering when his next break would be and what his state would be by the end of the day. What would be his wages for this game he played for life? I wonder what difference a man and an animal made for a man that anything caged excites him. Caged not in the literal sense, but anyone vulnerable left at his mercy excites him, the excitement with which he exploits a dancer in a bar which is an exhibit again is no different from how he would behave to an animal in zoo and for that matter in any other situation where man is no different from an animal in zoo. Anything exhibited for man is to be distorted and disfigured and that is what is being done to nature till date.
I cannot imagine an animal drawing any pleasure by caging his own species and enjoying mutilating and paining him. This highest trait arising out of supreme intelligence and cultural training is a patent of us human beings alone.
Erich Fromm, in his book “Then Anatomy of Destructiveness” expresses his optimism about human race saying he hopes the human race will not do anything that will wipe out his own existence, simply because man cannot live in isolation. But he also argues that man is the only animal who would go in for a war for no reason and could also harm one another for reasons existing in past or preconceived threats of future all of which is impossible for animals. You don’t see animals killing other animals thinking these people will deplete our water or food resources, but man does. You don’t see animals guarding borders to protect resources, man does. You won’t ever see an animal harming another that too with a well planned strategy for something the other animal did months ago. This reminds me of my first class in zoology where my teacher asked,” Do you know how we are different from animals?”. “We are blessed with a superior seat of intelligence and we can think rationally and creatively, which they can’t”.
Had she said that today, I would ask what all has this creativity brought in, developed better ways of killing, our own species and the nature to the extent we cannot sustain ourselves on this earth today . Every advance in science was accompanied with disasters not just because science was wrong or bad but man who handles it is degraded. Ensuring sustainability of machines is easy but what about man who is in charge of it? I don’t pride myself over an animal, but at times pity the curse of my species to have been overloaded with such an intellect which gave away their heart.
As the howling and hooting got over, the statue man got down for a break and I heard scholars behind me discussing on Amartya Sen, world economy and globalization, calling my attention to the fact, the they are normal and I am not.
“And then we will worry and rage
When strikes a Godhra , another Orissa
And when Kargils occur
We would forward emails
Pin up badges
Organize conferences, summits
Banquets and discussions
On sustainable development
In a world, where man
Can hardly sustain himself
Because of his own deeds.”
But now amusement parks don’t amuse me anymore…………………….