Sunday, 24 May 2020

A test out of syllabus!

I'm sure many of you could relate to the title. A discussion with your friends or your mom, on how you studied something and the test turned out to be a farce. Everyone has found themselves at this juncture, some becoming diffident and fragile, and some becoming stern and resolute to make it count. But what if the test here doesn’t pertain to any academia or any of life's quotidian pursuits? What if it is the test of life itself?

Exactly! Circumstances today are extenuating and make us a good contender to be spared on many counts of lack of preparation. But given the laissez faire that life is, you're out of chances already. And I'm not talking about how this #covid pandemic is forcing us to observe social distancing. I am speaking about the consequences of something all of us vicariously saw coming, but still didn't envisage. I'm talking about the contraption that our upcoming lives would be.

Mankind spent generations, segregating and winnowing tenets of life. What was once a persiflage of hunter gatherers killing cattle and recklessly mating, turned into corporate hobnobbing followed by chivalrous dating. We defined every element of what a life well-lived is supposed to be like. The panache was clearly separated from pestilence. Neat and clean office spaces, followed by neat and clean bookshelves at home for leisure reading; the most ostentatious chandelier for imposing your success, and the brevity of succinctly measured shots being poured at parties post work. We had everything, every detail planned to the T, and suddenly, it's all jeopardized.

This surely is not a test of our immunity or character. It is just a test of our basic instinct. Isn’t it the instinct after all, that made us survive the score of attacks from scurrilous fauna as we usurped every other species and sat at the throne of surreal supremacy? This is a test of how quickly we maraud all that's needed and how furtively we escape before fate catches up. Gone are the days of investments in mutual funds, insurance plans, safe investments in golds and govt. bonds, a house being the ultimate attainment. Every shred of logic we so salaciously cherished has been extirpated. And a new world order is now suddenly chipping in. 

This new world order is nothing but an everlasting panacea to thrive. There is a sudden display of masks and lockdown successes, a sudden surge in public ramblings on either acceptance of governance or disdain for the policies. But somewhere in between, everyone is expected to act quick amid an ever changing set of rules. The rule book is being practically written right when we're following it, and omissions and alterations are done, right when we betted our life on some of the burgeoning postulates. 

An ever crowded, ever populated microcosm, is now finding solace in the bloom of flowers its actions garrulously annihilated till a few days back. And then immediately, the attention is back to when the movement would resume and when the lockdown would be revoked. Even in this pandemonium, it is still the numbers that define the situation and reify our faith in measuring everything. The numbers that were once used to see who won an election or how much profits were registered, normally connoting more success with more magntitude, are now dearly wished to shrivel. The numbers now represent deaths and no. of cases. But even in this entropy, we have found numbers that keep us engaged - the recovery rates and PPE kits distributed. Our outright rejection of the gravity of what's going on and our gyrations with numbers of solace, continues unabated! 

This is also no test of idology. Over a long horizon of mankind's evolution, religious, sectarian and political ideologies have brought the biggest of conflicts.The gravest of situations and our magnitude of success often found provenance in our vested faith in our long enamored ideologies. But this situation would see both communism and capitalism fall flat. The freedom defined by the former and the imbroglio represented by the later, would be equally perilous.

In short, this is a test of everything apart from what we have been taught. We were taught to work hard party harder. Here we have our work redefined and our parties expunged. We were taught to invest as it would ameliorate us someday. Here we have job losses ripping apart our savings and bonds been broken in infancy. We were taught to work today for a better tomorrow. Here we are, relentlessly squandering every cent in protection today and not even knowing if there would be a tomorrow. 

This is a test for which we were never prepared because we simply chose to ignore the subject. Every life comes with a death sentence. And time and paleontolgists have proven that every species comes with a death sentence too. In our conqest of this miniature ball of lava cloistered inside layers of soil, we have long forgotten our beginnings, and long surpassed our ration of space. We have invaded every piece of inhabitable land, not knowing that we are just marking time on what we had already. We are so deeply engrossed in our cacophony, that we never as much as careen towards the inevitable.

Mythology and fables and seeing our loved ones depart this life have made us accept the immediate truth of life not being everlasting. However, our dumbfounded principles and conceit still buttress us to keep producing more and more progeny to ostensibly take our legacy forward. However, one thing that we were never taught, was that we as a species are also not going to last forever. We have become a futile and inefficient species. Even with a 5% annual population growth our collective GDPs are not growing. Partially because we have stagnated the world that we inherited and partly because our machinery is now worn out. Even with our countless recent breakthroughs, there have been no pathbreaking discoveries and inventions like the fire, incandescent bulb or the difference engine. We were never good at emancipating other species, but the whole promise of humans promulgating and stamping their superiority was upliftment of ourselves. The world continues to become more disparate with the only empathy residing in "Humans of XXX" pages. Our NGOs are money laundering outlets, our egalitarian initiatives are a PR campaign or a favour to the governance, and our concern for the environment is because it's mandatory to be considered a part of the bourgeoisie. 

Coming to the conclusion, we were taught about how our end would look like. We had the World War Zs, Alien takeovers, Zombie apocalypses and what not. But this end, would be something we were never prepared for. We are likely to have a brief resurrection with everyone making amends and industries thriving and reaching peak outputs. We would also have a newly found √©lan wherein everyone would piece together a recovery like none other. But deep down inside, these lockdowns, these battered days of forlornly and asinine existence, have invoked either a complete disregard for the establishment, or an irresistible carpe diem. These two combined, would soon compete or collude, and fester into such an unpredictable collective behaviour that would decimate whatever logic and structure that exists today. This time our test subjects are not going to be rats or Orangutans. This time we are the test subjects of multiple social, chemical, mechanical, economic and psychological experiments that would ensue from how the different controlling stakeholders of the world choose to react to this. This time we are not appearing for a test which any textbook, classroom training or even practical experience taught has taught us. This time, we're treading roads that are not even there, with our actions based on philosophies that are not even made. This time, it is the test of our lives, for our lives, for our species. It is one which we would collectively appear for. And guess what, the test is out of syllabus!