Blood the colour of thought

Arshid Malik

I was always an ardent lover of books. What kind, you may ask and I would say all kinds. By all kinds I mean to indicate all the good kind of books I could lay my hands on.

I just loved reading, the very smell of their pages and the covers. I was still in school (perhaps I was in the 6th grade) while I started off with the big titles off the rack, Dickens, Dostoevsky, Hardy, Bronte, Shakespeare, Gorky, Dumas, in fact the whole line of classics. I found rare pleasure in reading books, especially the classics.

Thereon, as I moved to high school, I noticed a peculiar tilt in my reading habits towards nonfiction. I started off with Locke, Einstein, Karl Marx et al, Freud, Kant and the whole plethora of philosophical school. Then I took on religions; Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and of course my own beloved religion Islam, although my studies mostly focused on the Sufi traditions and literature.

It was a roller coaster ride all the way. I started tracing similarities between different literature from different places and different periods of time. I found a connecting thread that wove it all together.

I was given to understand that there was a universal cloud of knowledge out there, and all of us, through time, would pick up strands out of this cloud and pledge to own it. As is the case with modern physics’ Theory of Everything(A theory of everything is a putative theory of theoretical physics that fully explains and links together all known physical phenomena, and predicts the outcome of any experiment that could be carried out in principle and is not related to math in anyway.

The theory of everything is also called the final theory), I started working on something on similar lines and mine was not only about physics but all disciplines that possibly seek to exist. I was, so to say, going mad by all social standards.

My room was a mess at that time and so was my head. It was no more an adventure as the whole phenomenon got to me, affecting all of my daily routines in an explicitly “bad manner”.  I was on an all time high and my feet were possibly not touching the ground and all this was taking place in the absence of a mentor and a hush-hush no disclosure schema – the fact was that I had no one I could talk to about my findings and as Facebook and its likes were a long way from home. I believed that I was on a path of self-indulgent, esoteric “enlightenment”.

As I was advancing on my treatise of everything (actually I was beginning to make some sense to myself) when my behaviour jumpstarted on a negative note. It was chaos outside and chaos inside. Here I am referring to the decades of violence that engulfed Kashmiri people on all sides. I had been shielding the impact of all that was taking place outside but I was mistaken for no matter how hard I tried, my afflictions were social all the way.

I was tormented by the unheard shrieks of my people who were being murdered mercilessly. I was stupefied by the horror of it all while I thought I was witnessing initial bliss. I had stakes out there, social stakes, and there was no way I could isolate myself from the political conundrum. While I had love close to my heart as a sentiment which could definitely change the world and make it a better place, the very sight of guns and blood on the streets harpooned my harboured passions. I was suffering like all of my people. I was sensitive and the harsh times took their toll.

What happened next is too personal for me to jet out but thereafter a state of ironic isolation descended on me. I divested myself off all my passions. I gave it all up. I ended the search, period. It was years and more before I picked up a book in my hands and started reading it, and this was all without the initial passion I had for them.

I was more listless while reading and have been that way for long. Sometimes while I am reading a book, I feel nauseated and my jugular picks up a different beat. And I could never connect to that universal cloud of thought ever after. In fact I could not even connect to my “usual” bank of thoughts. It had all been siphoned off. I was a clean slate. Inflicted amnesia, they call it.

When we talk about Kashmir and what all happened there during the past few decades of tumult, I would call attention to the fact that it was not only people who were killed. Thoughts, some brilliant thoughts were murdered too. I would not say that mine were brilliant but then compositely there must have been hundreds out there trying to make sense of our social, political and economic manifestations.

My dear readers, this is a long story shortened to fit our average attention span but it demands great attention and careful and thorough analysis. I hope I started something here that some of you would care to carry further. No, I am not talking about a truth commission. I am talking about a molecular examination of all that is dead inside you and for no fault of yours. I am talking about blood the colour of thought.


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