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Power of the absurd  

We have just enough sanity to get by these days. Thanks to our eccentricities, superstitions and OCDs, however, we have just the crutch we need.

Published: 08th August 2021 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th August 2021 08:06 AM   |  A+A-

Illustration: Amit Bandre

We have just enough sanity to get by these days. Thanks to our eccentricities, superstitions and OCDs, however, we have just the crutch we need. To vanquish inner demons with the use of highly ridiculous methods we can never confide in anyone is as sophisticated as it gets. Even the most scientific among us watch an experiment with fingers crossed behind their back or chanting their first pet’s name.

We all have our triggers, temper issues, terrors, which we seek to control with some complicated personal internal system. If the hero breaks into song now, the curry will come out well. If I can finish reading this page before my mother calls out, I will be married by the end of the year. If I double-check the front door every night, my acne will clear… As rational and simple as that.

Of course, we first exhaust the ‘sane’ route. We study for exams, we think our love will change the man, we work hard and consider ourselves decent people, fab friends, promising employees etc. Soon we realise we are almost there but never actually there. Without that oomph, that zing, that X factor, no shooting star will, well, shoot. Magic needs a helping hand; it needs you to believe in it.

Saying the same word together with someone, think of so and so who calls us that very evening, hum a song and the radio playing it back. Coincidences most random and bizarre are the cornerstone of this mysterious human condition. If this happens, that will happen; if that happens, this will happen. Our own crystal ball, into which we gaze without an audience. Face to face with the unknown, only this gibberish, refined over years of desperate wishing, works for us.

It is like the first-time gambler’s luck. When we made a maiden obscure sacrifice and were granted that gift, we got hooked. We may keep coming up empty, but the trust in some universal force tracking our fortunes never goes away. We give up sweets, we don’t cut our hair for a year, we don’t say the word ‘no’, we walk seven steps backwards if a dog/cat crosses our path. It is a secret survival technique.

I have my own defence mechanism. As I speak, I divide my words by 2 or 3. If not divisible, I add another word, often unnecessary and meaningless, to meet the requirement. When I was young, this took me time and had me speak slowly, mentally counting the letters in every word I spoke as I spoke. Now, with the quickness of experience, I am more talented at this habit. I fondly imagine that my thus worked-out sentences will buy me nirvana on earth. That’s my quirk, what’s yours?

Shinie Antony 

shinieantony@gmail.com

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