*The following was not written after listening to Coldplay*
If there is one thing doing a degree in the humanities taught me, it’s that I am a fleshy, over privileged waste of resources and time-space, who is so good-for-nothing that an absurd tragic hero of a plump goat, raised with the singular goal of being mutton biriyani, that contacts malaria during Bakrid is probably more useful to the planet than me.
If there’s one thing that a degree in humanities gives all students,
it’s crippling self-doubt while at the same time possessing a superiority complex it’s guilt. It’s the same guilt that I guess a certain Prince Siddhartha felt that turned him into the Buddha. But unlike Buddha who got a religion, most humanities students either get nothing or, at best, a debt (which is a good way of making sure they don’t have time to start their own religion). Now I am not saying, we, humanities students, are worthy of starting our own religion. Trust me, if some of us started our own religion, it’ll just be a lot of people with crushing social anxiety resorting to debate on social media but in real life having the argumentative skills of an overthinking puppy, that knows too much and too little about Karl Marx.
I don’t want to talk more for other humanities students as my degree has taught me that I can’t speak for others. Or myself. I shouldn’t speak? But I also shouldn’t remain silent. Gibberish?
Noil leber fo tca na siHsire bbig?
(That’s gibberish for “Eh?”)
Anyway what I really wanted to talk about is about how sometimes I can’t come to terms with the privileges I possess. And I am terrified of defining what exactly ‘privilege’ means because definitions provide a false sense of accuracy that constantly changes across with time, space and individuals.
.(looks around to check if people have bought that excuse)
Okay, fine. You got me! I’m lying. I don’t want to be held accountable, for defining such a loaded word, by definition dictators (they are like grammar nazis, but the term is invented by me. Re-post it until it becomes a cultural norm). So I’m going to give a vague definition of what I mean by privilege. Every time I read a Buzzfeed articles that goes “ X things that every 90s kid from India will relate to” for a few seconds I am convinced that every 90s kid will relate to this, before I realise most 90s kids actually don’t relate to those things. Those few seconds in between are my moments of privilege. Every time I think the monsoons are a great time to have coffee and read a book, before I realise it’s literally the worst time of the life for a lot of people, those few seconds are me forgetting my privileges.
I also know, privilege is a lot more and serious, but this is a humor blog, so don’t get your tightie whities up your flowery nighties (another one of my coinages, please free to use them).
Once I took all my privilege into account, everything I have done, doesn’t really amount to much. My inner voice, which is basically a drunk South Indian attempting an impeccable Irish accent, trying to scream over a cranky pressure cooker that just refuses to go off, always takes an opportunity to remind me of it.
A casual conversation in my head:
Me: Hey, I’ve traveled quite a bit. That’s kinda nice. Feels like I’ve achieved something.
Inner-Me: You are a guy. You can do anything and get away with it in India.
Me: I guess you’re right. But I’ve also got a decent education and some social respect.
Inner-Me: Oh my god! Can you believe this guy?! Let’s not even get started on your caste. The big bad B word. That starts with a B ends with N and has the name of a popular Hindu deity squeezed in. Just in case it wasn’t obvious!
Me: But, but…Uh, I am trying to do stand up comedy. And that’s kinda tough. Don’t I get any points for that?
Inner-Me: What do you mean? You think you deserve points because you can burn through money and be okay with it? Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Abdul Kalam, those guys deserve points. You have everything going for you.
Me: Hey, but I was a fat kid. So that’s something. That made life kinda difficult.
Inner-Me: I’m sorry, your problem was you ate too much in a country where people die of hunger! Besides once you ate so much that your friend tried convincing you that you had the biggest belly in the world.
Me: Hey. I got made fun of for that. There must be some larger socio-cultural explanation for being fat. Besides weren’t we supposed to suppress that memory?
Inner-Me: Nope that’s all on you. That’s your achievement. Some people use their privilege to go the moon, some people use it to believe that they have the world’s biggest belly.
I guess what bothers me is that the more privilege a person has the fewer number of people that person competes with. That, to me, is the best example of how unfair the world is. It’s basically the reason why Nawazuddin Siqddiqui will always be “alternate”, and Bollywood star kids, part of the “mainstream”. And at some level, all of us English-speaking, blog reading, individuals in many ways are no different than star kids. We are all part of the same game: we are holding on to our ten of hearts and complaining that they got dealt the ace of spades while the not-yet-Nawazuddin Siddiqui next to us has Uno cards and realized he’s completely fucked in this game.
Which brings me to the next part of the title: the privilege in guilt. It’s also weird that as I type this I am staring at a laptop which was probably made in factories in China where committing suicide is tea-time conversation. And here I am worrying about what to do with guilt. My big problem. And that again is privilege.