Point of Contact

Arshid Malik

arshid malikI believe humility, compassion and honesty to be three of the greatest human virtues. If these three precepts of human civilization are to be followed, there would be peace everywhere (almost). I as a person always trust my instincts which are “dictated” by the three human virtues I mentioned but sometimes things get out of hand and you are forced to align your conduct on a different track. That’s what happened to me the other day.

I was sick and since I cannot drive myself, I hired an auto rickshaw from my place to a nearby chemist’s shop and told the driver that he would have to drop me back. I collected my medicine from the shop and boarded the auto rickshaw. On reaching home, I asked the rickshaw driver how much I owed him for the trip and he said two hundred rupees. As per my analysis the best fare for the trip was around fifty rupees. I reprimanded the rickshaw driver for overcharging to which he said that he was not my servant and was free to charge what he desired since I had not settled for the round fare when I had boarded the rickshaw. He uttered some words of abuse and I slapped him hard in the face. Out of the blue I found myself being punched in the face, hard, really hard. He was of a resolute frame and his blows had dislodged my spectacles and caused some damage to my right eye. Since I could not see properly as I was hit in the eye, I started fumbling around like a half-blinded man. I was sure that more blows were about to be delivered in my face or abdomen or elsewhere so I distanced myself a little bit. I traced my spectacles which were almost lying in a gutter, wore them, sighted a hefty piece of drift wood nearby, picked it up and started beating the rickshaw driver to the pulp. He managed to kick-start his vehicle and fled the scene while I started tending to my now black eye. I was not exactly sure what had happened as I never flare up like I had. All the same, there was little time for reflection and I went up to my room and started applying ice packs to my eye and forehead.

Later that night, when my wounds were a little better, I reflected on the incident. I felt really bad about beating up the rickshaw driver the way I did. An eye for an eye is heard of but when you are on the verge of almost taking out all that a human being consists of then the balance tilts inhumanely. I thought I should have observed some restraint all the same. I was not hungry and skipped dinner and went to bed early after taking a few painkillers. In the morning I met with a “ghastly” scene in the mirror. My eye was swollen beyond compare and there were dark bruises on my forehead, temples and chin.  I started cursing the rickshaw driver and wished he would have been around so that I could break all of his 206 bones. Well, this is human nature. I once read in a literary magazine about a man who had earned a Black Belt in some form of martial arts. This guy wrote that he could handle at least six to eight well built people in a fight. Once he was going down a dark alley and since it had been raining during the earlier part of the day he was carrying an umbrella – the classic one, you know which doesn’t fold. Suddenly a mugger appeared out of the dark and armed with a knife he asked this man to empty his pockets and take off all valuables he was wearing and dump them on the street. Now, our “hero” could have beaten the hell out of this guy but all he thought of doing was hitting the mugger with his umbrella and almost pierced his torso with the long tip-like protrusion of his classic umbrella. He later reflected on the incident and was amused by the sheer complicacy of human nature.

I am unable to fathom as to how we humans think and reason. My overall understanding of human nature which comes to us through the annals of history is quite sound as around 1000 years ago the reasoning of human beings was quite in sync with nature. Man followed the flow of nature’s intent. But with the progress of human civilization human reasoning started to follow an unprecedented path that was neither in sync with nature nor in the best interests of the very survival of this race on the planet earth. We have come a long way from home I guess.

Only yesterday my 10 year old son pointed out something of critical importance to me which I had seemingly forgotten about. It was the Sentinelese of the Andaman Islands. It was a very peculiar reminder of probably the only surviving culture and people of the ancient world who are often referred to as the “lost tribe” and in fact the term Sentinelese itself means something akin to that.  Andaman islanders were known long since to respond with intense hostility at any attempt of outside contact, hurling arrows and stones at any visitor approaching their shores and now the Sentinelese, the inhabitants of small North Sentinel island, are the only remaining tribe in the Andaman chain to maintain their isolation. Since 1967 Indian authorities have attempted to make peaceful contact with the Sentinelese but all “contact expeditions” were greeted with showers of arrows and stone. There are currently no planned attempts to contact the Sentinelese and access to the island is strictly forbidden. These are people who seemingly know that the human civilization has entered an era of “self-destruction” centuries ago and modern day reason is only a jiffy ahead of complete senility and disillusionment. They are the emblem of human existence in its original form, and I presume I carry some of their characteristics. I do not actually throw stones and arrows at people who approach or try to approach me but I sure want to. I am fed up of all human contact for all that arises out of the whole phenomenon is more and more confusion or rather a confused state which is diffused to the level of extinction. The very point of contact is disastrous for me. After all, I almost lost an eye the other day.

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