The Dichotomous Days // Atharv Dwivedi
As I sip on the last drops of my single malt, the late-night stoic inside my tired veins is just getting ready to blow his horn. I often wonder what is so distinctive about the moonlight, that my grey cells go for a sprint inside this potato of a head. Relentlessly rocking on the antique chair which remains the only physical memory of my old man, I dive into the trance, wondering what could have been and what can be. After all, to think or not to think, that is the answer. The cool breeze entering the room through the broken window pane, brings me back into the morose reality. There it is, floating in the mixed aroma of the burnt cigar and unfinished dinner, I find my unforeseen musing. After forty long eventful years, I want to fantasize about what my Utopian world would have looked like. Maybe I can experience those moments of joy, albeit in my imagination.
I remember those school lessons wherein the great works of Thomas Moore were first taught to us, one of them being “Utopia”. “Utopia” is a society or community setting wherein the people experience the ideal and most perfect life possible. In his utopia, he described an imaginary and solitary island where everything seems to be running smoothly. It’s like looking at blue skies, warm and bright sunlight, working in clean, spacious buildings, living with friendly individuals, going to work happily, and harmoniously coexisting with everyone. And like any other social construct, Utopia too had another side to its existence. The complete opposite was, “Dystopia”. In a dystopian world, the skies are dull. The sun may not be shining, and the buildings are mostly in ruins. The people (if there are any left) are annoying and unfriendly. Going to work is always a painful experience, and everyone seems not to have settled their differences yet. A dystopian world is like the setting of the popular film “I Am Legend” wherein the main protagonist (Will Smith) appeared to be the only survivor of a ruined civilization.
As the drink of sinners begins to take its effect on me, I cannot help but wonder, whether both of these worlds are so different from each other or not! If my life had been spent in a perfectly Utopian world, maybe I would not have gone through the abyss I have in my true journey. Maybe my mother would not have deserted my old man, an unemployed twenty something, with a two-year-old to raise. Or maybe constant company of my imaginary friends while my Pops did overtime wouldn’t have left me with a severe identity crisis and Bipolar Disorder. The clean, lively atmosphere would have surely helped the girl I love battle her lung disease.
The friendly individuals would definitely have helped me get her into medical care. I wonder if my Boss whom we fondly called “ Medusa of Corporate Era” would have understood a widower’s predicament and allowed him to grieve peacefully. I wonder, I do, as my eyes sway around the pastel curtains. They too had a story behind them, like any other inanimate part of our life. I wonder whether all those stories would have been joyful with happy endings in Moore’s Utopian world. As the clock strikes two, the truth dawns upon me. All due respect to Mr, Moore, but his Utopian world would not have been any less Dystopian than the Nazi Germany to me, if not worse. The dichotomous nature of both the world now revealing itself to me, I begin to grasp the concept of “Maya” which the Bhagavat Geeta talks about.
Yes, tragedies of this life might not have met me in the Utopian world. But the hypothetic absence of them does not prevent the hypothetical presence of other challenges, does it?
What if my mother, despite falling in love with some other man, would have stayed? Would definitions of perfection still apply to her? What if I had never experienced an adversity in my life, would I be better prepared to live? As I delve into the finer details of Moore’s Utopia, I can only term it as “Maya’, an impossible and impractical realm. There would be no incentive to work, if eternal content and happiness was guaranteed. And now that I think about it, if I never knew what “bad’ was, or how it felt falling into an abyss, or staying shut in a gloomy cocoon, I would never know what good is either! The feeling of rising out of ashes, facing the Sun, climbing out of the pit would not hold any meaning to me.
Life itself would lose its multi-faceted beauty to me. Symbolically, it is akin to never knowing the joy one gets when gulping the first mouthful of liquid, after an arduous journey! Do I want that life? Only when filing my tax returns, maybe. Otherwise, Moore’s Utopia is just a less obvious Dystopia to me.
Having concluded that the lonesome existence of Utopia would be meaningless for me, I now try to imagine what the ideal world would be in my mind. Humbly acknowledging the dichotomy, I think I would have wanted to live in the same world I am living in, having made a few tweaks, of course. I would have wanted a world where people would be born straightforward. Just a billion blunt individuals. There would be no pain of hiding the finer details of life, no worries about external opinions and a whole generation saved from the Millennial crisis of “Log Kya Kahenge”. I would have liked the winds to be filled with empathy, compassion and gratefulness. A place not devoid of tragedy, but filled with hands to lift you up. A place where if you were born as Batman, somewhere your Alfred would heave a sigh of relief. A place where depression would be a disease, not a phase. A place where Left and Right would exist, but so would cold, hard and neutral logic.
A place where the truth would depend on what a thing is, not on how many people believe in it. A place where collateral damage would not be acceptable and your pets would not be expendable. Where lovers of chaos would harness the beauty in it, not burn the world around it. A place where sentiments would not be exclusive of logic. A place where my Sunshine would have got her healthcare and a place without Medusan bosses. Maybe a place where Whisky wouldn’t immediately mean mental alarms and cleavage would stop attracting flesh eaters. An imperfect place with perfect patterns, that would have been my Utopian world.
Now that the first ray of dawn is breaking into my house, revealing the infinitesimal dust patterns in air, I am pushed back into the reality where the joints ache and mind pains. I did find my moment of happiness in my not so naughty fantasy, but the toll it takes for not being true outweighs those moments. So maybe this was a last attempt. An attempt to again live with her. An attempt to be abnormally normal.
Now, where did I keep my bathroom towel, dammit?
“A place with a few more hearts, and a lot ess bones.”