I sit here, at the deserted corridor of the Margot Hardy Gallery of the
University of Western Sydney, late on this warm summer's evening. I am twenty-eight
years old, I will be twenty-nine in a few months. And as I sit staring at the
blinking cursor on my 2012 Macbook Pro, the summer wind blowing over my face brings back memories of so many summers; very similar summers in a very
different place. I wonder if those memories are mine? Am I the same person from
all those summers? Am I the accumulation of what has come of those many
summers? Or is this me, remembering many versions of myself from many different
summers? Are we all different people at different points in our lives?
is not always the same. It is not always romantic, tranquil or even nostalgic. Sometimes, when I wake up, I just lie in my bed, and
wonder, "Why can't we figure out a way to remove specific periods and specific
people from our memory, say, surgically?"... I could use such a method. Other
times, I wonder, if running into the wall, head first, would work?
"Those people and periods, the ones you want to remove, are the
source of our rage. I wonder, I would ever want to let go of my rage",
PK says. He is one of my best friends. One of my few friends. We have lived
many lives together. In New Zealand. In Africa. In Australia. We have been
hungry together. We have feasted together. I listen to him closely. "I
feel rage is being alive. It is rebelling against your darkness, darkness of
the soul that invites chaos. Memory itself is chaos. But, chaos
invites creation. May be, running into the wall helps. Or may be, throwing that
chaotic baggage of people and periods at the wall helps too"
and disagree at the same time. Though, I mostly agree. Rage, anger, hatred, are
all useful emotions. The very emotions that make us human. One of the reasons
why shrinks, those vanguards of state power and status quo, strive so hard to
take those driving forces away from us, and use fancy terms like anger
management and counselling in doing so, is so we are left with no tools for
resistance. We become passive tools of conformity -- sheeple.
Yes, I am all for
directing the rage and hatred at people who deserve it.
"But, P**** my old friend, now comes my precautionary warnings.
Hate is like LSD, very potent, very powerful, and very hallucinogenic. Trust
me. Few people know hate and LSD as well as I do. But, as wonderful a substance
as LSD is, and it is quite wonderful as numerous scientists and poets will tell
you, it IS hallucinogenic. So is hate, my friend. After a while, it gets hard
to distinguish between who is deserving and who is not. And try as you may, you
stand a very good chance of hurting people who have been nothing but good to
you. And I will not have that for any reason whatsoever. The spirit of
anarchism is "Resistance against the violent. Compassion for all."
And lately, I have found that I am being hindered, my productivity being
minimised, by both useless initiatives that lack proper Science, and too much
distraction in the form of hate. I mean, don't get me wrong, I am all for
confrontations and in-your-face attitude. But you gotta pick your battles bro.
You don't wanna put on your black mask to go after a pesky little fly, do you?
Save your energy for the elite, the powerful, the 'respectable', the rich, the
bourgeoisie, and the vanguards of the nation-state system. You don't want to be
distracted from the revolution by the little people, and the worthless little
irritations. You have bigger fish to fry.
Hey!! You listening to me?", I
almost raise my voice indignantly.
I have been talking for almost five minutes,
and he has not made a sound. I look up, to see the Margot Hardy Gallery, and a
PK is twelve thousand miles away, in Durham, Scotland.
look down. The blinking cursor stares back at me, like a hapless lover awaiting
response to some forgotten confessions of love. I stare back.
are all that are left of the days of yesteryears. The past is another country,
long lost in some forgotten revolution. And journeys therein, of necessity, are
clouded by false memories, false recollection of true events. Even the people
from the past, the ones who left the deepest of marks, would have already
turned into ghosts. Forgone dreams may hold them steadfast in memory, but they
would hardly have any ground left under them -- their feet would have already
turned into smoke.
It has been eighty-four hours, since I, finally, emailed in my summary
resignation. I had finally decided that I would rather be unemployed, than
oppressed. I did so with great sadness -- in general, because I enjoy Science,
in particular because I will miss Ann Cutler.
But issues of existential significance, in a purely physical and
political sense of existentialism, are worth more than money or a diploma.
had stood by what I said and wrote. Because, what I talk and write about,
straddle issues of "profit over people". I am happy to pay the price
for my dissent. I know I will pay dearly for it too. But hey, I got nothing!
What more can you do to me?
The thing about having nothing is that there's
nothing people can take from you.
So... here I am! I enter my thirties, with naught but a headful of
abstract theories, a few diplomas, negligible savings, no prospects for the
future, no expectations from the present, a few good friends, a hoard of
haters, and all the glory of an unemployed, dissident, entry-level hobo. I am
one of you, brothers. Officially.
And I must admit, while I am worried
about sorting out my life, somewhere inside, there is this faint inkling of
satisfaction -- I did it. I faced the demon, and as scared as I was, I did get
through. I always wondered, if the day should come when I face a choice between
actively practicing the people-before-profit philosophy I so admire, and having
a fixed income, would my fear of uncertainty overcome me? I was always worried
that the answer would not be good for my ego. I am happy to find out that I did
not, in fact, sell out. I am poor as shit... but, right now, at this specific
point in time, I can't seem to care.
Tonight, I am happy. Tomorrow will be
another day. Soon, like so many acted out acts of my life, this too will be
reduced to little more than memories. I don't know if I should feel saddened,
frightened, relieved or simply glad. But I am in no hurry to decide. I don't
try so hard with these things anymore. I have learned not to.
Like sand in a closed
fist, memories slip away, and one is left with a good strong clutch over
The outpour of support and compassion have been overwhelming, since I
quit my position. Friends, the few I have, and colleagues have showered me with
compassion, helping hands and sheer, unadulterated love and understanding. And
I have never been happier, more productive, and anger-free than in the last
four or five days, during which, incidentally, I have also been the poorest and
most insecure in recent history.
There you have it -- rather conclusive
evidence that neither money nor security, both artificial constructs, are
driving factors behind happiness. As a scientist, which I am by vocation, I
find immense joy and bliss in doing mathematical and theoretical analyses of
data. As an anarchist, I am happy volunteering at the Society of Jesus'
orphanage. (Incidentally, my gratitude for Fr. J. Alexander Fosoux, S.J. for
allowing an atheist-anarchist to find some solace and engagement in his House.
These jesuits, and I know from a life-long experience, are seriously awesome
The only thing lacking is a long walk down to Auckland Domain, or down
Seafield View Road, with P**** and C**, and puffs of good ole' Mary
I close my eyes, and another gust of wind flows over my face. The rush of
memories is so strong, my heart almost skips a bit. I half expect to open my
eyes and find myself staring across Auckland Harbor, or over Davenport, the
village by the sea, or perhaps across the field of St. Xavier's High School,
and see L***'s smiling face inches from mine. I open my eyes.... and reality
drops back on my lap like shedding leaves in the summer breeze.
sixteen years ago.
I look around, and there is not a soul in sight. I can't help but chuckle
a bit, almost involuntarily. Cliques are so transient, and yet convince us that
they are forever. I was in a clique once. The Kliq. I wonder, where are they
now? What are the odds that, right now, there is more than one of
"us" thinking about when we were "us", young, naive,
ambitious and walking, talking, cliches? I can't help but chuckle again. Not
out of pity, but more out of a half-longing-half-understanding vantage, that
sixteen hard years have afforded me.
Despite all the hardships, though, in the last four years, I have been a
part of four different Universities, met numerous eminent scientists, been
inspired by a few, pissed off a whole bunch of them, I have met the most
awe-inspiring, and the most tedious people, I have fallen head-over-heels in
love, and gotten out of a decade-long obsession, I have gained priceless
friends, and lost an irreplaceable part of my life, and I have lived in places
that are so picturesque that pictures ruin their allure, and places so
revolting that I actually felt at home! And while they have been only a
handful, and far and few between, but some of the most important people in
my life have turned out to be the ones I met during this time. I shiver to
think what my life would have been like, had I not walked down this long, winding
I wouldn't have it any other way.
And if I could do it all over, live my life all over from the beginning,
I won't change a damn bit of it, just for the sake of what I have been through
in the course of this long, strange trip I've been on for, oh, so many years
Make no mistake about it. I enter my thirties, with a lot of
questions, very few answers, a lifetime's worth of memories, and experiences
that elude my prosaic abilities. I stand at the beginning of mid-life, with
more interrogatives than declaratives, but I do so with absolutely no regrets.
Tolkien's words have never been truer -- "Not all who wander are
It is not always the same. It is not always romantic, tranquil or even nostalgic. Sometimes, when I wake up, I just lie in my bed, and wonder, "Why can't we figure out a way to remove specific periods and specific people from our memory, say, surgically?"... I could use such a method. Other times, I wonder, if running into the wall, head first, would work?
Yes, I am all for directing the rage and hatred at people who deserve it.
Hey!! You listening to me?", I almost raise my voice indignantly. I have been talking for almost five minutes, and he has not made a sound. I look up, to see the Margot Hardy Gallery, and a deserted corridor.
PK is twelve thousand miles away, in Durham, Scotland.
I look down. The blinking cursor stares back at me, like a hapless lover awaiting response to some forgotten confessions of love. I stare back.
Ghosts. Ghosts are all that are left of the days of yesteryears. The past is another country, long lost in some forgotten revolution. And journeys therein, of necessity, are clouded by false memories, false recollection of true events. Even the people from the past, the ones who left the deepest of marks, would have already turned into ghosts. Forgone dreams may hold them steadfast in memory, but they would hardly have any ground left under them -- their feet would have already turned into smoke.
The thing about having nothing is that there's nothing people can take from you.
1998 was sixteen years ago.
I wouldn't have it any other way.