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The Museum of Vestigial Desire


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If we are not sure, we are in doubt. Being in doubt is an existential crises. If an individual is in doubt, potentially everything can be denied. One’s dreams, one’s ambitions, one’s affections, everything can be denied. By denying these we are challenging the very essence of our individuality, the very essence of what sets us apart from others. Mizwa was going through this process. She had emptied out almost all the parts of her mind which divided the world into preferred and painful. Now everything was grey. Nothing was sorted in her mind as a source of pleasure. There were no knowns. Mizwa had a small garden in the balcony of her flat. She even let the plants dry and die. It was tough for her but she went through the process. Everything that was close had to be pushed away. For those that we consider close to us knowing what is true and what is false is difficult. Because of the warmness of individuality we can very easily think one to be the other. Mizwa fought with her parents too. The relationship was on the rocks because Mizwa asker her parents some difficult questions and refused to be placated by a sentimental urge to just let it go. Mizwa’s parents refused to take her questions seriously. She wanted to know what they held as ideals and would refuse to compromise on no matter what the case. But they were of the opinion that she knew them for well over twenty ears and she should deduce the answers to these questions herself. She wanted them to articulate what was important to them else whatever they said could be doubted.

All our statements about ourself can be doubted. What we know about ourself and what we say even if they are the same can be doubted easily. Who we are is a story and for this story to be accepted as fact (and not fiction) it needs to be considered as objectively as possible. Mizwa was so smitten by the doubting bug and she cast the doubting eye on so many entities in her life that she was fully shaken up. Self-doubt is a part of the doubting frame of mind. It cannot be any other way. If you are not sure of anything at all, how can you be sure of who you are? Self-doubt keeps things open-ended. The concept of self-doubt makes sure that people remain in darkness about who they are. When people are in darkness about who they are, they are less violent and cunning. Because being violent and cunning requires a surety about one’s identity. And if you like us, if you appreciate the poetry that doubt brings into life, then you will understand why doubt, violence and cunning schemes do not go together. For Mizwa, life was often a laboratory. If she believed in something, she applied it in her own life first. Her parents did not know what to expect. One day, Mizwa woke up to feel every thought in her head very sharply. As if someone had installed some lenses in her head without her permission. All the confusion/doubt that used to be in her head seemed to have disappeared. Was this for good? Or a temporary event? That she did not know. But if asked whether she wanted to go back to the past or let it be like this, she would have turned time back in a jiffy.

There are people who like to be clear and then there are people who like to be confused. Mizwa would, of course, belong to the second group. She did not understand the merit of clarity. If you knew you wanted to do something and then you went ahead and did it, what would be special about it? Rather, she thought, if you didn’t know what to do and then you engaged in conversation with people around you and some sense of what’s to be done dawned upon you. Something would be achieved. Something human would be achieved. After all calling a human being a “social animal” must be for some reason. A social animal not just in terms of how they socially organise themselves but a social animal in terms of how they develop ideas about what to do and why. Doubt blurs the edges of all the significant entities in the world. This blurring helps them significantly in doing things that they would not do if they could sharply understand its wider repercussions. Doubt is the source of poetry but also the source of the motivation to do unethical things. It ends up doing a lot of good as well as bad for us. But the stigma it is surrounded by, amplifies the negative values associated with it. Mizwa looks at the world through her doubtful eyes and shuns clarity. A selective mix of doubt and clarity seems to be the only way out. Then they could both be applied to different situations as the context allows.

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