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Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Enigma of WHY?

Is life just an endless flow of questions?


There are so many imponderable things in life. As a matter of fact, life in itself can be imponderable at times. Now that sounds like a question, doesn't it? Yes, it does but what is the answer to that? And believe me therein, as the Bard would say, lies the rub. 

I spent a lot of time reflecting what will be explained in the next few lines. But the upshot is that I need some goddamn answers if I like to keep myself in the contours of sanity (well, some would say there’s an ample evidence that I have already trodden deep into the realm of insanity but that’s another argument). 

Ever wondered why there’s so many ‘WHYs’? I’m sure in each of our lives there comes a time where sundry of profound questions cross our path and left us pondering. Let us call them ‘Random questions’, which every now and anon pop up in our head. Let us assume there is a meaning to be taught and understood. 

The first question that I'm going to ask, well, to post it rather because I'm sure none of you have the apt answer or the one satisfies me anyway. 

“What part of life is truly under our control?”

While some of you would be like “Ummmmm” and others reduced to scratch their heads, I have another one that also distresses me considerably.

“If life is so short, then why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do.”

“What the hell sorta questions are these,” exclaimed one of my pals when asked. “It is just nonsense and all, go ask some goddamn philosophers,” he believes I’m nuts. 

But I gave a serious thought to that philosopher idea, though I stay away from those creatures called philosophers for they are lousy if you want to know the truth. I mean they ain't really lousy but what they usually come up with is mostly beyond my ken.
However, I did venture to ask one who happens to be a philosopher or he thinks he is. 

“You need to learn a thing or two about life, young man,” said he, evincing a look as if I were a kid before a century-year old Greek philo.
“The trick is to ask the right questions,” all he had to say taking something like five minutes to complete the reply. And in-between he screwed his eyes, tried to chew his ballpoint cap and scratched his head a great many times. On the other hand, I writhed to kill the urge not to punch him in the face.
You see! That’s why I don't get closed to philos. All he had to do is to say he doesn't know the goddamn answers. Now what’s the big deal? So many of us don't have a clue about life, but this kind of folks has to fudge just to make us look fools. Although, his notion of ‘Asking the right questions’ begs another question;

“What’s the right question?”

I could have asked it if I could bear his eccentricities but I didn't for two reasons. First, as they say ‘curiosity killed the cat’ and second; I feared if had done so, I would have knocked him out telling him “It’s all about giving the right answers,” but it would have brought me a considerable trouble. Hence, I didn’t just to be on the safe side….

When we sit with aforementioned thoughts running in our head… just as I do, sit staring at the LCD and typing these lines while thinking how many of these thoughts in my head are rational and what part can be categorized as irrational. More importantly, who decides the cusp of rationality? 

For all I know that even rational thoughts sometimes destroy our mind and soul. 

Understanding of life, knowledge, and reality leads us to plethora of questions for which there are no set answers, or such diverging opinions in the guise of answers that just raise more questions.

Had we known some of the answers, it would have done a lot to help us see life from a whole different perspective. We would have learned a great many lessons teaching us things about the world and ourselves. But the fact remains that most of them are left unanswered.

I often ask myself why there are more questions than answers. Then I tell myself perhaps the questions are more important than answers… or maybe there are certain things that we aren't supposed to know, why? Well that’s just another damn question.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Other Side of Virtual Reality

I switched my PC off and thought too much of virtual reality can be as agonizing as the reality itself. Although quixotic folks like me, and trust me there is a slew of them out there, who breath virtual reality - for they cannot bear the brunt of reality – in fact they only live in virtual space and in doing so, some of them lose touch with reality. But it doesn't matter, because an “Ultimate escape” is a goal long-desired.

If "Don Quixote" teaches us anything, it is that one can choose and exist in a reality of our own making, though in his time many believed he was out of wits. Nowadays, it ain't considered eccentric, and with all the modern tools around, they even encourage you to create and live in your utopia. 

Having said that, not many of us realize that in the search of semblance of peace, we keep running away from reality until we have engrossed deep in this phenomenon called virtual world. Don't get me wrong, I am not here to philosophize about virtual reality’s cons for it never fails to secure me from the fangs of reality.

I'd been living nine days, 17-25 September 1944, of Market-Garden in Arnhem for the past four weeks, over and over again. Fighting Jerries in the streets of Arnhem-Nijmegen, house by house and room by room. I felt how General Urquhart, commander of the 1st British Airborne Division, might have felt when he was stuck in a garret surrounded by Germans, who didn't know the brave Scot could be killed or captured. Or later, when he conveyed to the General Browning that his Division due to lack of food, ammunition and medical supplies, was on the verge and could be annihilated. 

I realized the disappointment of Colonel Frost, commander of the second battalion, whose men - after braving the severe might of II SS Panzer Corps for four days - were overwhelmed, leaving 2/3 of his Battalion in wounded and dead. For he knew Monty’s pledge of getting the second Army to Arnhem in 48 hours would never be materialized. For he knew the plan of Market-Garden was flawed and Germans’ strength was greatly underestimated. But he held the northern-end of the Arnhem bridge in over-optimism in the face of inevitability. 

As always is the case that great optimism spawns enormous disappointment. Upon return, one soldier of 1st British Airborne Division couldn’t help shouting at the second army’s, who despite their best effort only made to Nijmegen, just a couple of miles away from Arnhem where 1st British Airborne Division fought one of the bloodiest battle of the WWII, “Where the hell have you been mate?" shouted the disgruntled soldier, who waited eight days for the help of Monty’s second army.

I sensed the emotions of Captain Eric Mackay, who occupied a school building with his fifty men just a hundred yards north of the Frost’s perimeter. Under the rain of mortars and artillery fire and losing three-forth of his men, when a Jerry with a white hanky came out and uttered a single word “Surrender”, he was astonished. He thought Jerries want to surrender, though it was a bizarre thought because Mackay’s men were hemmed in. But such high was the morale of his men, that surrender never crossed his mind during the course of firefight. So it was believed Jerries want to surrender. Mackay looked around the building, their hideout, was half-destroyed. They didn't have space to lay their dead and wounded. He shouted back “Go away, you bastards, and fight. We are taking no prisoners,” and there his men erupted a barrage of fire with their small fire arms to echo their captain’s resolve.

I perceived the fright of an unknown young lad, who was laid in an attic with a pile of dead and wounded. Upon seeing Chaplain Pare, the shocked young trooper said. “Pare, will you tuck me in? I get so frightened with all the noise.” Pare had no blanket but he pretended to cover the trooper. Two hours later a medic told him the about lad, he said prayer with, just died and he wanted to tell you he couldn't stand the noise outside.

I pictured another soldier Signalman Stanley Heyes, whose company suddenly found themselves under the screeching mortars, exploding in air bursts above their heads, hurling deadly fragments in every direction. In the pandemonium, Heyes sprinted towards the woods nearby. After orienting himself, he felt another body laying beside him. He realized it was a young German, frightened and wounded. They cleaned each other wounds and remained there. Later Jerries took over the area and Heyes was taken prisoner.

By now you might be thinking I have one hell of an imagination. But if you had read a few accounts of second world war, especially Cornelius Ryan’s The Last Battle, The Longest Day and A Bridge Too Far, the most authoritative books about WWII, and had been playing this game, I'm sure you would have felt the same way provided you have imagination.