“I begin by declaring to my reader that, by everything good or bad that I have done throughout my life, I am sure that I have earned merit or incurred guilt, and that hence I must consider myself a free agent. ... Despite an excellent moral foundation, the inevitable fruit of the divine principles which were rooted in my heart, I was all my life the victim of my senses; I have delighted in going astray and I have constantly lived in error, with no other consolation than that of knowing I have erred. ... My follies are the follies of youth. You will see that I laugh at them, and if you are kind you will laugh at them with me.” [1]

So, let us talk about ourselves today. But let us not just talk about the dream that we are, but the face that we wear under our grins. Me and you. To make you comfortable (if you should agree to be a participant), I’ll shed my filthy clothes first and stand naked before you.

It was the time when even Bollywood movies let the camera wander elsewhere when the couples decided to lie together in the fields of gold and poor girls seemed to get pregnant by mere hugging while it thundered outside. I must have been 14 or 15 when I first heard my class mates (boys) using those words. Knowing those words was considered chic and ousting opponents by quipping those words was cult. It did not matter if the usage was right so long as the effect of silencing was achieved. The English variants had not yet found passage to our English Medium School. We were all intrigued by those words and were attracted to them like moth to fire. We didn’t know what they meant and we were not supposed to ask either; who wanted to be an object of ridicule among knowledgeable peers? The best way to learn was to mock someone at the ignorance of not knowing the meaning, and in rebuttal, they’d spill the meaning that they knew. Gradually, I built my repertoire and managed to know the meanings of most of them. I couldn’t bear the humiliation of being mocked at had I turned docile and surrendered to the masters of this craft and hence it took longer for me to learn when compared with other bright boys who progressed, phenomenally. Strangely, there was this transparent wall between us, boys and girls and we did not mingle, except fighting. I guess I never crossed it, ever.

Yes, I think that was the start of all this corruption. It was before sex organs were taught in the class, or maybe it was the same time. I remember our teacher (female) skimmed through the section that described the female reproductive system and we all smiled at each other sheepishly. Words were taken for granted paying little attention to what they meant. Even though I knew the meaning, I did not give a thought. I was too busy, in living THAT life. Parents did not know; I knew the words were wrong and thought that parents wouldn’t spare me if I dared to utter one of those in front of them (If only they knew what these words meant, kids think they can outsmart parents). ‘Dirty’ is the word for all of them. Many of them are affectionately called cuss words and reside on the tip of many tongues.

You know what these things can do to you when your brain is as soft as wet clay? Do you know the reason why (I think) there is so much trouble in our society today? Don’t you think that something is terribly wrong when a child studying in second or third standard uses those cuss words? I’ll give you a firsthand experience. We become what we think and talk. One of those ‘resourceful’ classmates once told us that a girl from our class looked like a model in one of the porn movies he’d watched. The model’s name was ‘Mayou’, and they nicknamed that poor girl ‘Mayou’. She didn’t know, I wish she never gets to know. We all reveled in it. Whenever I remember that girl, I wish to say a heartfelt sorry to her. Not that she’d know, but I just want her to know that I am sorry, for imagining her to be the model I never saw. What good can you think when your brain is filled with such tar? Sadly many of us don’t grow out of this attitude.

I am religious, not a devout, but I definitely believe that there is no sound when His stick strikes. My performance in boards dropped. Okay I was overconfident, but somewhere I also thought that I was being punished for thinking something I held guilt for. Parents taught me that Goddess Saraswati resides on the tongues of those who are pure at heart and what they say bears fruit. I felt loss for that purity, for the first time.

So when I moved to a new school and then to college, I decided not to utter a single cuss word, even for fun, even when my seniors told me to, except when I was quoting someone. It has roughly stayed so. But the same cannot apply to words that are not spoken. The damage is done. I am afraid I can no longer see the world with the transparent glass no matter how much I want. It is always prismatic, fringed, colored. Today is the time when I rarely find ‘clean’ humour, others are just banal attempts at it. And funny that all those non-vegetarian jokes are always funny. A small gesture can mean a thousand things and the use of metaphors has made it a game of wits to decide whether it was a normal line or an intended non-vegetarian pun. Sometimes, in a mixed crowd, something is said, and those who get it burst out laughing. Oh dear, the trouble is the ones who don’t get it. It’s hard to explain, perhaps it is better this way.

I am ambivalent whether I respect girls or not, I am pretty sure I do, but sometimes I suspect the honorability of this statement. My upbringing has taught me that girls are forms of Goddesses and I bow down and ask for forgiveness if my foot touches them. It is now a reflex in mind and body. I’ve never uttered a cuss word in front of them. Even though I think that degradation might have occurred in the females as well as is evident from them using these words with a sense of bravado in reality shows, most women I know have never used such words before me. For that I am grateful, because I might not be able to think of them in this way had they been more open. For me, they are above it. Till date, I’ve been able to ask 2 girls if they could take non-veg jokes well and even though they said they were okay with it, I could not bring myself to send them one. But who can be all wise and not foolish at the same time? It’s hard to keep the dirty mind from thinking if it is empty. Thanks to the modern slim fit and comfortable clothing that cleaves to the body tracing the curves, little is left to imagination. Admiration or ogling, I am not too sure how many times I’ve crossed the lines. My mind still finds women in traditional dresses beautiful. For others, it is the way they carry themselves. It is not about sex either. I know I don’t want it, not yet, not just like that. I believe in lust burgeoning from the feeling of love and longing; pining on those falling tresses or being fixated by the sway of hips, or the desire to hold that tight waistline are not what cause love, they are ephemeral wanderings. Out of sight, out of mind.

Thankfully, I’ve never been able to imagine any of them in a way that would be objectionable if they found out and I owe my mind much credit. My mind refuses to give images to those thoughts, it rebukes me for doing so. I find boys who always have expert comments on the figures of girls, obnoxious. Mild humor is taken well, it is fun, but always? Really? Seems like they cannot take the fact that they cannot have her and try to frame the meanest jokes on her. I am driven to know people, especially when others talk of them, mostly in the wrong way or a derogatory way, not just sexually, but otherwise too. I think my guilt connects with perceived weaknesses and I long to know them more than ever before. But if my compliments are taken as a sign of flirtation, let me proclaim, I come in peace and desire nothing more than a healthy friendship and acknowledge what I perceive to be true.

There is a constant battle in my mind between the pure and the dirty. Words are sacred space. I’ve known things that I now know are wrong and somewhere wish if I could erase all of them. But then, I couldn’t know wrong until I walked down that lane and figured it out by myself. I admire myself for struggling against this quagmire that can suck me into this abysmal pit of insincere indulgence. It is for our tainted wisdom to decide for ourselves what is right and what is not and let that guide our future flight or plight. It is hard to go back, and it is hard to stop it either. But I think everyone like me has a chance to be better than what we were yesterday. It’s hard to have a temple at heart, but knowing what is wrong I have here my temple of thought. I hope I did not cause you much trouble. I tried to be explicit and then I tried to be discrete. I’ve found that none of them might do me justice.

“I expect the friendship, the esteem, and the gratitude of my readers. Their gratitude, if reading my memoirs will have given instruction and pleasure. Their esteem if, doing me justice, they will have found that I have more virtues than faults; and their friendship as soon as they come to find me deserving of it by the frankness and good faith with which I submit myself to their judgment without in any way disguising what I am.”[1]

[1] Translation from “Histoire de ma vie”, Giacomo Casanova

You are one piece of literature I wish to read in the tongue your author wrote you. I wish to learn French someday to read this one text.

P.S. Nothing.

Image Credits: Google.