|By Suzy Fontes, Mangalore [ Published Date: September 29, 2005 ]|
It is easy to mistake him for a madcap. Not that it would upset him or anybody would mind. The ones who’d reduced him to his present state, though, might rub their hands in glee. …That is, if the frenzy that took over them when they did what they did to him, is still flickering.
Some kind of value added retribution, that.
The first time I saw him, I was certain everybody else who clarified that he was sane, from the dust-stiffened hair on his head to the grime-laden nails on his toe, was mistaken. I was sure that a mad streak was making him sit and stare at some point on the ground, shake a stick in the air and prod the ground with his fingers.
He looked so… so very mad. Everything about him screamed that. The bulging bag hanging from his shoulders, the long stick in his hand, the loosened corn-row kinda hair… And more than that the ground-staring, stick-prodding, spittle-spewing demeanor that he presented.
Well, why would a sane man sit under a tree facing the main road, with his world seemingly wrapped in a little cloth bag under his arm?
That he could be homeless – worse, was thrown out of his home - didn’t cross my mind. How could it…?
His was, nay is, a warped existence. Warped, literally… By a chilling past that has nailed his present to the cross of existentialism. The nail deadening his mind first and the soul that probably never was.
Or was it…? Was it there when the madness that now manifests in his unkempt look lurked there, somewhere…? Which probably prodded him to do what he did?
There are no answers to the questions doing the whys and hows rounds. And despite all the bravado that I pretend to have a stake on, I can’t see myself sitting on the protruding root of the tree that he fancies and querying him on the whats and wheres too.
The little that I have heard about him suffices to recreate a past that might (definitely) have been seeped in violence - a violence that took on a gory trail. Trampling over lives that were perceived as threats. Threats to his existence or to the ones of those that he’d pledged allegiance to…
He was the local goonda; feared by most and revered by those seeking to follow in his line. His only verdict for all those who crossed him was death, or suffering by maiming. That somebody could do unto him what he’d done to others didn’t stop his pursuit.
One probably develops a feeling of invincibility with every life strangled or stabbed away.
And then it happened. Revenge nailed the biggest full stop in his violence-riddled life - an acid test, literally. He got acid – the strongest there is – on his face. Blinding him. Disfiguring him.
Life turned a full circle. A formless circle.
Family, who might have tolerated his earlier bullying out of fear, threw him out. And friends, well… He had none, so to say. Days after the attack he was deserted. Left to fend for himself at a time when he needed people more than at any other time in his gory days.
He turned to the roads - the wide welcoming abode. To the shady pavements – the most assured roof. To the trash bins – the ever gracious hosts.
That explained the only dress on him; the incontinence that saw him watering the roots of that tree; the abject apathy to cleanliness or appearance…
I ought to admit that I have wondered why he didn’t consider killing himself. Wouldn’t it have been a better option to his present decay?
Perhaps he wanted an eye for his eye…
There is still that something, which even today makes him want to straddle parked bikes or push them out of his way, despite unseeing eyes.
Could it be violence, skulking around him; urging him to retaliate in whatever way that he can? And is the black – in his shirt and trousers – symbolic of his life today?
Hearing his story, one is left with a gnawing feeling that violence is fast becoming an equation to derive answer to most things in life. Locally as well as globally…
Wonder if it is addictive? Or is it simply another kind of madness; a madness that needs to be treated…?