The vagabonds started at him for a few seconds, made eye contact and then quickly looked away.
A bit confused, and blazed out of his mind; he continued walking. They – all four of them – were dressed in clothes one could only term as pitiable; while he, a privileged, middle class fuck, was decked up in a casual shoe, a shorts that had a logo blazoned on the right hand corner and a half-tight black tee shirt that said ‘mind your attention’. He knew India was an unequal society, its contradictions quite obvious and apparent to people who possessed the mindset to see it properly instead of brushing it off as something to be scared off, as if discomfort and class privilege were somehow topics not to be discussed. In fact, he would love to have these discussions all the time. Not because he was doing something about it – in fact he was doing absolutely nothing about it, at least not yet – but because it made sense to expand one’s own world view in terms of the geography one claimed to be a citizen of.
He wondered about the fate of his country often; often while blazing away in the corner of his room every evening. Again and again, he was hearing the same rhetoric from the leaders that be, that “they were trying their best and were hopeful”, that “the next 5 years will the country’s golden age”, that “our people are unmatched in resilience and strength to no one”, that “our policies have been made for the well-being of all”, and most importantly the fact that trust and faith in the political and legal system is of paramount importance in times of darkness; and that the night is darkest just before dawn. Craving a yawn was an understatement; at times like these he wished he could hear better things, better, concrete things to do; rather than what was expected to happen some time in the future; and even that was a big maybe. He wondered if he were the only one in his social circle who was seeing the ineptitude, meekness and the lack of clarity among men and women all around; and he had no intention to claim that such men and women deserved his hate or pity; on the contrary all he wished was well-being.
He had watched aghast, as well meaning individuals refused to think and began adopting the views of others, as if their brains had somehow decided that the group’s views were already one’s own; without having done any independent assessment of rational thought. He had watched aghast, as hidden agendas were bellowed out from atop the world’s most powerful governments, in a bid to control the hearts and minds of millions. He had watched aghast, as individuals refused to spend time in slowing down to take a breather and focus on one thing; rather than shortening their attention spans all the time via content that could only be described as shallow and lacking depth. He had watched aghast, as his own family members started to spew out half-information, concluding with a verbatim explanation that confirmed their own views instead of having the semblance or humility to spend more time in looking at the full picture.
Beware of the group or the community that livens up imagined narratives. Beware of the group that does not elevate the discourse to accommodate issues of importance rather than meander on small talk and gossip. Beware of the group that tends not to value your thoughts; preferring to change the topic to a mundane subject or downright mock you for trying to elevate the discourse to something intelligent and meaningful. Beware of the group that seeks to mould you into their ways of the mediocre and meek; just because it is very comfortable to be mediocre and meek. Beware of the group all the time.