Dear Billy Biswas. It was so unfair of you to mess up my mind while I was unwell. Leaving your comfortable, rich existence and disappearing in a tribal village like that. I envy you. Not because you had the guts to do something like that. But because you did manage to find peace by going primitive. I can identify with your frustration with the civilized society – the shallowness, the mad race for accumulating more and more money, the pseudo-intellectualism. But what I wonder about is how adopting the life of tribals made you feel particularly better. They believed in stupid things by your own admission. The seven mountains beyond the forest, and then some rivers beyond the mountains and everything geography-defying. Not to forget the love-magic! Why was it so difficult to live with a shallow, educated, upper-society wife, but okay to live with the likes of the young man who killed his wife for not greeting him with hot food? It doesn’t look like most of them appreciated the soul-mate kind of thing you felt with your tribal wife. Did she understand it any better? If the civilization did not understand the primitive force, it did not look like that your primitives also had any better understanding of it than wrapping it up in some superstitious, pseudo-historical stories. The reason I am questioning you is not because I want to defend civilization. I don’t want to. I share your feelings about that. The reason I am questioning you is that your decision just doesn’t seem like the answer either. The answer to the unessential complexity of civilization can not be the simplistic ignorance of primitivity, can it? Don’t we aspire for a simple, but enlightened life? Of course, I agree if you tell me that the existence of that is questionable. So, if you found your calling with primitives, I can only envy you. And I envy you with all my might. I won’t be able to find my answers there or in anything else in sight. I am doomed.
While I am on the topic of envy, there are a bunch of other people I envy as well. I envy those who think that everything will be all right, if we could go back to a certain point of time in history. Some peg that to ten to twenty years earlier – their childhood essentially, some want to go back by a hundred years or so, others would not stop at anything less than the Indus Valley Civilization. But they believe there was a better world there. I also envy those, who think that they can bring about a revolution of the oppressed, and the resulting world will be a better one. The outcome of past revolutions doesn’t convince me. And I envy those who believe that there will be a better future, if one politician is elected instead of the other. Heck! I even envy my younger self. When she used to hear about bad things, she was confident that once she grows up, she would fight all the evil. Now that she is grown up, the only thing she can think of is whether she can at least protect herself, somehow get through with life unscathed. She isn’t confident of even that much, much less changing the world.
My envy spreads far and wide. My hopes have dwindled. And Billy Biswas. You go off and hide yourself in a tribal village. Stop messing with me, will you?