Renunciation and the Devil--2
[Continuation from the previous post.]
It was in the month of June, I confronted the Devil, in the form of Saneesh's friend. This event includes one of my class mates, Saneesh Raj and one of his friends, let us call him I.L, who visited my University Campus to apply for the M A. English course starting in August. The applications were sold two months before, in June.
June in Kerala is the month of rain. Rain represents life. I was thinking about avoiding my lunch that afternoon, a common observation when practicing renunciation because most of the time we take in food without feeling hunger, just for the sake of observing a habit. And I was not very hungry.
Saneesh came to me and insisted that I should go to the canteen with him for giving him a company. The guy was adamant and I was forced to follow him. That force was a material pressure than something spiritual. I succumbed. This was an insidious socio-cultural practise in our class. Everyone was supposed to spend their time in a collective mass (whether studying or moving around). This was ordained, by the gods of the department; a new attempt to instill in students, qualities like team spirit, peer group sensibility, and many other things. Exclusive individual efforts in academics and other areas were not entertained. If one chooses not to be part of this collective entity, the one will be put to the life of an outsider's, throughout the course. He or she will be a no one's man. It was hard for me to be an outsider. The law was powerful and it was unwritten, too. Unwritten laws, compared to the written ones, are treacherous and have far-reaching implications. So I went with Saneesh.
In the facade of the University he introduced me to his friend, one who finished his B A. English from a college famous for hooliganism in the city of Kannur. The moment Saneesh introduced me to his friend, I sensed a danger. The placenta that connected my physical being to with my spiritual being was hurt, somehow. The introduction included a word that could barely keep me in composure in observing renunciation; a word that had the potential to lure me back to the world of obsessions and possessiveness: "writer."
“He is the writer of our class!”--Saneesh said.
I was almost insanely obsessed with that word, which I wanted to take up as my future vocation. I sensed a very malicious smile on the face of his friend. His eyes were horribly calm, as if veiling a murder weapon behind them.
"What writer!?" --I.L. Blurted out with a suppressed laughter. The question, or whatever that was, made me realize that I was in front of an attack, which could have its spiritual harms as well. I knew the meaning that he attached with the word "writer". In Kerala, anyone who is working in government offices, who prepares the land and property official documents is called a writer. For someone like me, who believes in the religion of writing,as a form of art, as a walk way that crosses the heaven and the earth, as a platform for self search, as the one and only way to locate the Great Wisdom of a Lifetime, labeling with an epithet, which implies one of the most unimaginative and dull professions in the world, was like receiving a mortal stab. My heart pounded faster.
I. L talked again and again: "we had a writer in our class too; a fucking son of a writer." He roared with laughter. Saneesh joined his laughter, too. I doubted if Saneesh was realizing my situation, my humiliation or if he is purposefully dragging me into this mud. I think or I want to think, the former to be true.
"No he is a real writer."-- Saneesh added, but that could hardly stop the laughing sadist from his brutal assaults. I call him a sadist because that was the first time we met, and still he attacked me with all sorts of mockery and jeering, as if taking out a long kept vengeance. I remembered one of the points in Saneesh's introduction of I. L. He was a member of the Communist favoured student's Union. So I kept silence. I could not dare to attack him back, verbally. Their stories of cruelty and barbarism were notorious. The option of not to speak back was not from the intervention of the spiritual self—as attack is the most base of the deeds undertaken by someone pursuing renunciation, the most possessive of the acts, the most animal—but a safety measure.
We sat around the same table at lunch. I. L continued his sarcasm. Then, he asked my age. I was able to keep a smile on my lips, and did not reply. He asked again. But I was silent, munching away my boiled rise with Sambar and fish curry. He again opened his mouth to ask which was the genre of writing I was interested in. This time I could not maintain my composure, as the question was of a fundamental significance to me.
"I write whatever I feel like writing."--I said. I thought he had sensed my mind, and that might be the reason for this sudden change in his course of questioning. I expected a better outcome, at least for my temper, which was in the peak of disturbance. But what it all ended up in was a blind vaunt! He said he too was a writer. Won many awards in his primary school, but later gave up writing, for some reason.
I ate my lunch, trying not to look at his face. I knew that the best way to hurt your enemy is to ignore him, erase him from your attention, or at least make him feel so. But then, I had earned an enemy after all. I knew this well that an enemy was born when your storage barrels are full of possessions. My obsessions were alive and were the main reasons for my embarrassment.
Before I. L could say good-bye, I had walked away. I know, Saneesh or the sadist hardly knew what I felt, exactly. I had learned that it is hard to follow that path of renunciation, not because of the test of the Devil, but because of the roots of obsession that were so deeper in every one's spiritual and physical self that it becomes almost impossible to uproot them.
I remembered the following lines, which I was sure I never learned by heart, but to my own surprise sprouted in my mind.
"When under trial, let no one say: "I am being tried by God." For with evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself tries any one." (James 1:13)