Thursday, June 22, 2017

Endless suffering – 1 (SNAKE)

Relentless & Endless suffering defines perdition, isn’t it?
What is the worst karmic punishment?  Born blind??  Muscular dystrophy?? Deaf and dumb??? Spastic??? Autistic??? 
            I make a case for “Being born to a mentally retarded parent” for the emotional damage is often permanent and suffering prolonged.  
            The tale is so gory. So let me keep it absolutely short and crisp. Bare essentials and no frills. 
            My father’s side of the family were simple, honest Brahmins. The menfolk studied the vaidika sastras for a living while the womenfolk supported them by cooking and raising kids. Those days – say until mid-1980s – families were large, cohesive, and a set lifestyle. Faith, piousness and rituals summed my grandparent’s generation.
            My father was a simple man, a calm temperament, soft spoken and measured in conversations. Besides he was intelligent and capable of clear thinking too.  Born in 1930, he studied till SSLC (10th grade by today’s standards), toiled extremely hard for four decades and died prematurely.  
            My mother side of the family were not ritualistic Brahmins but landlords and highly educated. My uncle was an IAS, influential in the corridors of power. But there is a sinister dark side in the gene pool, high on geniuses and evilness for a sickening combination. 
            My maternal cousins are world-class talents: One son an observational scientist of worldwide eminence, daughter a classical dancer of rich fame, another son an IIT educated engineer, and last son a Chartered Accountant; something none in my father’s side can ever boast. But this high intelligence came with a heavy price: these were rigid people prone to lifelong grudges and resentments. The genes never accommodated kindness and compassion for a genetic defect at source
            The behaviour of my maternal uncle (the IAS fellow is still alive and kicking at 92) amplifies the dichotomy of evil and genius side by side: His eldest son married a woman of his choice in the 70s.  The son was thrown out and boycotted socially.  Even the news of his sudden death in sleep four decades later did not soften the hearts of the parents. Another son married a Christian divorcee and he was similarly snapped and estranged.  My mother – his sister whose mental dumbness may not have a reference even in our epics – was sternly told off on her wedding day in 1961: I have done my job in finding a groom. Now get lost and don’t ever show your face; you’ll be thrown out if you ever step on my doorstep.  This admonition from a brother of the bride in full view of the groom’s family; my father was horrified at the vehemence of hatred.  His genetic makeup could never understand this “cut and snap” in family ties.
            My mother is a prized idiot: deaf (another genetic characteristic), natural arrogance of stamping down people, and in her case the genes took a turn to genius dumbness.  Hopelessly unlettered, zero social skills, loud mouth, high pitched energy which began every sentence with a “ayyo” (most inauspicious word in the Tamil language) made her a stand-out pain in every company.  Soon others ran away from her path and sight. Loneliness and social boycott is a feature of that genetic side. 
            My mother did not work hard to drive my father to an early grave: her lashing tongue from those messed-up genes was as venomous as a cobra. She nagged him to death with her daily cribs provoking the poor man into banging his forehead in disgust.  It takes an evil genius of a mind – one exclamatory word in high pitch screeching voice to pierce every armour of tolerance and target the heart with pinpoint accuracy for maximum damage.  I saw my father die inch-by-inch; none strong enough to cry halt the daily warfare. 
            My father lived with his wife for 27 years on a daily supply of high decibel squeals and threats and “ayyos”. His body ran out of gas and will to live before he turned 60 years.  My mind rebelled and condemned to moodswings at I entered my 21st birthday. 
            Even at 21 I knew there would be no romance, no marriage, and see how far I can go without being a nuisance.  It looked a suicide script to me before 30, before 40, whatever. Reaching a milestone as the 20s or 30s was a huge achievement in endurance.
            What made my mother such a genius monster that no man or beast could stand?  
With her around, any human would feel being in a battlefield. When my second sister was born in 1964 the mother refused to breastfeed the baby for a week. Her mind reasoned: not a girl child again!!! Once a two year old baby in 1967 insisted (I am deliberately avoiding names) on swinging the cradle standing up for better bounce from inside a cloth of a saree.  My mother reacted by banging the head of her infant daughter inside the cradle to the wall. The baby turned blue and breathless and rushed to quacks for first aid and treatment.  My mother was equally outraged and ranting: if the baby does not listen now; will she not turn out rebellious later on? That child grew up shy and diffident until she found a husband 22 years later for some semblance of normalcy.
            As to the torture she inflicted on me, they are heart-rending to this day.  Even a male child was not spared.  Her violent savage nature would keep me wailing in hunger as a one year old. The feeding bottle would be sterilized upon my squeal, milk heated, and later to cool down under the fan as the child bawled out of the skin. 30-45 minutes from the first sign of cry would peak to a crescendo when the feeding bottle got ready. Again no words of solace instead abuse, slaps, and threats.  Imagine a baby being breastfed with taunts and a volley of harsh abuses in a high pitched voice on a daily basis.
             As I grew older, I kicked the feeding bottle to ground to register my protest at the inordinate delay. It was met with more kicks and abuses. That same rationale prevailed: if the child does not mend now, when??  I still recollect going with an empty stomach, sobbing my heart out and my chest in spasms.  My mother’s tongue knew not one word of kindness and sympathy instead a rich vocabulary of abuses and threats and ayyos.  Even while feeding solids, she would throttle it down my mouth yelling to my tiny ears (remember she was a lot deaf): if you don’t eat, crows will swallow you up. Or I will complain to the police and they will beat you black and blue. I grew up in this putrid air of the worst verbal and physical violence any child can stomach. I grew up listening to this daily litany: you are useless, worthless; you will not amount of anything.  I turned out exactly similar. 
            It was during the MBA days in Ghaziabad I found to my horror these stored-up hurts were activated when thrown in the midst of a happy boisterous crowd.  I used the maternal side of my genes to hunt a name for the disorder in the library; while the paternal side counselled patience and endurance. I realized before my 21st birthday: I had contacted a high grade mental disorder and it would take a lifetime to set right the wrong, and if that it is at all possible.
            I entertained little hopes of a career; I had a heart surgery at 29. I discovered a passion for walking especially on Theosophical Society lawns.  I also found weekend Spiritual discourses a soothing balm to the tortured mind. My aspiration never rose higher than feed myself and support the devil and even address as “Amma”. I was on “mood balancing” drugs for decades now. Though I had a lot of friends, I was a loner and painfully shy in boisterous party atmosphere.   
            Life treated me as I treated life: I walked in the side alleys; I never got into tangles, and zilch career and romantic aspirations for myself and think dying thoughts for solace.  My personality was a hybrid mixture of my dad’s side – honest, simple, hardworking, and not outreach my station in life – and my mother’s side on talent, resentments and grudges. 
            Suffering needs actors and events to generate tales and drama.  In my case nature had earmarked my suffering to a lonely one. My father dead when I was 21, both the sisters got married and left the nest before I turned 20, and the family was now reduced to “perpetrator” mental MOTHER and “victim” Mental SON.  At 38 I realized that two idiots can’t be in the same house and a very accommodating eldest sister taking responsible of the old woman.
The diagnosis was Bipolar or mood swing is the medical jargon to account for those childhood tortures. In simple language it meant “continued and sole exposure to hate”.  Few lives on earth are condemned to such depths of emotional poverty and deprivation.
            Failures cause fear; fear causes hatred of oneself, which in turn manifests as extreme diffidence and impending disaster at every turn – I kept losing jobs at frightening frequency unable to blend in an office environment.  With each failure I withdrew into a shell like a tortoise at the first hint of danger to avoid more failures.   
            The hate sowed in baby state by an evil mother was now reaping the whirlwind. The worst of bipolar is: Your story reads a like a movie script playing on the screen; you know what is going to unfold couple of scenes later yet immobilized to alter a line of the sub-plot of the script in your favour.  Suffering in ignorance at least gives birth to false hopes and misguided efforts that suffering in knowledge deprives: you are reduced to awaiting death and sober prayers: God, end this misery quickly and give me a new innings. I want to be a human being again minus this family, minus this bipolar.
            Right from my 21st birthday I knew the gravity of this disorder caused primarily by rotten genes and terrible upbringing.  This is “multiplication of misery” – any genetic defect can be rectified in a loving and caring environment affirms a BBC documentary.  Even if you are born with normal genes, continued exposure to my mother’s level of rants and high pitched wolves howling noise would cinder a human mind – which is after all tender, impressionable, fickle especially a mind of a tender child- to dysfunction and go out of operating range. 
I had to find my own medicine and in this I spared no effort.    
            I ran to every astrologer, every faith healer, yoga teacher, decades of listening to Swami Paramarthananda and Vipassana. I had consulted a dozen of the best psychiatrist the metropolitan had to offer. I had the mental strength of a man who will make his own road even if it meant tunnelling through oceans and mountains. I have an endurance not seen in either my father’s or mother’s side of genes.  If god made me a donkey, I had its heart to bear the load.
            Every search for mitigating bipolar was a hopeless one; each gave a momentary relief but no lasting remission until I discovered Mindfulness and Eckhart Tolle.  One is so engrossed in healing the mind that one forecloses the possibility of going beyond the mind.
            But those came in much later before life threw in a surprise as I turned 38: I got a writing job after a decade of strenuous search and I fell in love with a woman of my dreams.  I felt destiny was showering roses at long last and my plane finally take off.  
But nature was still not through with me. I kept getting hammered and knockout defeats fighting Mohammed Ali in the ring which we shall see in the next part. 
As TM Soundararajan sings to Kannadasan's lyrics and MSV's music: Sothanai mel sothanai pothumada saami. Vethanai thaan valakkai endraal, thaangathu bhoomi. Meaning: Lord! enough of piling sorrow upon sorrows. If living is only about misery, the earth cannot endure. 

Post Script: Every human being causes happiness to someone at least once in a blue moon. Amma is a constant negative kinetic energy of fear, distrust, stubbornness and not an atom of gratitude to even the hand that feeds.  There is this repulsive reptile feel to the woman – scared and scary at the same time, hyperventilate, deaf, stubborn, and firmly set in her ways to cause storms and turbulence in every encounter. She was hopelessly sick with those terrible genes. When the cause is rotten the result is only sorrow.  And those genes were taking a heavy toll on me.   


  1. Heart rending. I wouldn't wish even my bitterrest enemy to experience this living hell. There's always light at the end of the tunnel.I hope and pray you find peace and happiness.As a literary work it's a masterpiece.

    1. Thanks G! One of my good fortunes of my life was meeting you in 2005. Prabhakar, you mean so much to me. Thank you!!!!

  2. Touching - Mother only as a biological one is not easy to imagine,. She not only give the elements of your body but contribute in the making of he psyche. What you describe makes one feel sad - It should not happen to anyone. But as long as you carry the hurt, it is not her problem but just "YOURS" alone. Throw this behind and walk out of the shadow - there are ways to get back neutrally to the tormented and tormenting world - Everyone has his or her share of issues - if someone empathises with you, then that is the guide to redemption