Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

A lot of people around me are having babies: actual human beings whose sole claim to fame is their cute innocence. That’s how they should define babies: “cute human contraptions up to no good.”

But be it friends, colleagues or random people on Facebook, I am being inundated with pictures of multiple new-born babies, who frankly all look the same. Of course, I have dutifully liked each picture, congratulated the proud parents and exclaimed how the baby looks EXACTLY like them. You know like the bald head or the droopy eyes or the chubby cheeks: exactly like the parents indeed.

For the life of me, I can’t imagine how this tiny little thing (yes, thing) can actually turn your entire world upside down AND make you think that it’s a good thing! The same way Arvind Kejriwal convinced the common man in Delhi to vote for him riding on the wave of naïve innocence which somehow appeals to even the most rational and pragmatic of us.

So all of you going coochi-coo on the random kid in the pram, stop, take a breath and catch a Modi moment: that kid in the pram may look cute, but is the devil in disguise: expensive, unpredictable and irresponsible. There is no knowing what he will do next. Really, have you not learnt anything from Rahul Gandhi?

Now imagine the next 17 years before you can pack off the kid to some obscenely remote corner of the country (hopefully by then they would have an IIT in Nicobar Islands): feeding him, taking care of him, teaching him the ways of life, putting up with his teenage tantrums and living under the constant fear that he will turn into a Manchester United fan. No vacations, no surprise holidays, not even feel-good sick leaves. You just have to toil day after day after day and all you have to show for it is a badly brought up, confused and arrogant teenager. Think about it. Do you really want to end up like Sonia Gandhi?

And then a time will come when your boy will finish college and be unemployed in a recessionary market. After all the companies have looked at his CV and dismissed him after a cursory glance, “So this guy can write reports? Amusing”, you have nothing left to do but to allow him into your family business, which has grown through the generations and reached the pinnacle of success under you. But like a true prodigal, he would refuse to take any responsibility, only making guest appearances and putting up the pretence of caring, when in reality all he is bothered about are the perks of the job: the flexibility, the undisputed authority, the flamboyant lifestyle and the guaranteed job security. No questions asked. But within ten years, you see your empire crumbling down, brick by brick, just as you had built it. Even your last minute interventions cannot save it. What do you? Find a scapegoat to blame. Preferably a nice guy. Preferably an educated guy. Preferably a nice and educated guy who is also a Sardar, because you know, that’s a community you like to target as a matter of principle.

Finally, a day comes when your ‘baby’ comes and tells you, “Mom, I have had enough fun screwing up the lives of people around me. Now I need a change. I have decided to get married and ruin the life of a perfectly innocent woman.” Relieved, that the brunt of the responsibility will at last get transferred, you respond with genuine relief and exuberance, “That’s wonderful news my boy. Who is the lucky girl?” And your 'baby' replies, “Lady Gaga, real name: Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. Exotically Italian, don't you think?”

And there you go, the fleeting life of your baby, the Reluctant Fundamentalist, flashing in front of your eyes…


survivingbrain said...

You completely forgot the alcohol part of it !!

Nefertiti said...


but what's so negative about alcohol!

Neil D'souza said...

Guess who woke up on the negative side of her bed ?