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WIPE OR WOBBLE


A friend leaned closer to me. “Mate,” he said in a muted tone, “everything good down there with you?” I gave him a swift scan considering that I have known him never to speak of such matters to anyone since we had grown up together. “Depends on what you mean with good down there.” I replied. He rolled the salt and pepper shakers on the table and looked at me once, and turned away, and then looked at me again. “Promise me that you won’t make jokes if I shared something personal,” he said hesitatingly. I went even closer to him than he was to me and spoke in a hushed tone, “I promise to advertise it on the BBC.” He laughed a little at my making a hilarious jibe at him and asked me whether I had felt any discharge of urine in my underpants at any point in my life. My answering in the negative made him break into a chuckle, “Ah, I see that you aren’t a wiper or a wobbler then,” he grinned mischievously, “you are a willy wanker.” Both of us laughed noisily enough to draw the attention of the people around and apologised for the racket we had caused.

Everyone is aware, men have it rather easy when it comes to emptying their bladder, and as far as the wipe or wobble is concerned, there are some men, who, for religious purposes use water, or, in the instance where water is not available, take refuge in a toilet tissue to wipe the tip of their tool. Intriguingly, this practice of water cleaning is now catching on with the rest of the wobbling populace too who reflect that it is certainly hygienic as compared to letting their dribs tumble on their shoes, splash on the wall, plop on the rim of the bidet, drop on the floor, plummet inside their shorts, jeans, chinos etcetera, etcetera. Yet, there is more than meets the eye with regards this, and a man being a man, may not reach out to other men to enquire if they are facing something similar, unless of course in the case of my friend, who felt unreservedly comfortable to talk about it with me since we had studied in the same class from our pre-school and shared a firm friendship over the years. 

So is there truly a correct manner in which to clean up before your pecker retreats to the original (concealed) regions of your anatomy? What about cases where some men find traces of urine in their underwear and pass it off as something as a ‘man thing’ on occasions where it regularly happens? 

For answers, I excavated the internet, and found varied layers of medical information, and without having to sound awfully technical, I thought it best to share the information that I had collated from some urologists, a friend, doctor and professor Dr Anup Abdulla, and then articles from various online journals, in as simple words as I could.

To begin with I would like to tell the men out there that if you find yourselves in a state where you are noticing a passive leakage of urine a bit more frequently, there is no cause of concern. These droplets are the onset of perhaps post-micturition dribbling, and that would mean an infection of the urinary tract where you could experience a burning sensation, frequent urination, and discharge from the urethra. Medically, this condition is termed urethritis – a bacterial or viral infection that causes swelling and irritation of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body which is often the result of a sexually transmitted disease, or an enlarged prostate (prostatomegaly) in men who have crossed forty years of age. 

Another method that men use to clear their plumbing is by pressing the perineum, and it is here too that they sometimes sense a stabbing pain. (The perineum refers to the area between the anus and the genitals, extending from the scrotum to the anus.) Once again there is no reason for any apprehension as injuries, urinary tract issues, infections, and other conditions can cause pain in the perineum, and an appointment with your medical specialist would be able to set you on the right track. 

The wipers and the wobblers are not wrong, just that wobbling can be messy as discussed, and water may be a safe, workable solution. Word of warning though – in some men the microscopic pieces of the toilet tissue can cause a reaction: redness, and particularly for men who are uncircumcised, it risks them to a range of speedier infections. So keep a check, and get it attended to without delay should there be any complications. And remember that if you keep your sexual life less promiscuous, your private parts dirt-free, then the possibility of contracting the urinary tract problems are minimal. 


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LIFE . . . OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT


This may sound utterly fucked up, but we say all the cool things we think we want to say merely to get into the groins of our lovers, and the instant we have accomplished that, we start eyeing others to charm with our fucked-up-recycled-humbug, which, once again appears cool until we aren’t done diving into the groins of the others. And this cycle continues and continues until we find the one, or at least we think that we have found the one, and then we fuck it up so bad with the one that we don’t even fucking know what the fuck happened. That’s life. 

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NEVER LET SOMEONE TREAT YOU LIKE THAT





“Perfectionism is the unparalleled defence for emotionally abandoned children. The existential unattainability of perfection saves the child from giving up, unless or until, scant success forces him to retreat into the depression of a dissociative disorder, or launches him hyperactively into an incipient conduct disorder. Perfectionism also provides a sense of meaning and direction for the powerless and unsupported child. In the guise of self-control, striving to be perfect offers a simulacrum of a sense of control. Self-control is also safer to pursue because abandoning parents typically reserve their severest punishment for children who are vocal about their negligence.” 

~ Pete Walker 




The first sentence of Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina is: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” As you can infer, not everyone is as elated as they demonstrate they are. Everybody has something they keep under wraps so that they are not judged by the world around them as it is drummed into their heads from infancy that it is against the decorum to talk about the tribulations that afflict them. Such a dreary feeling to feel indeed that in order to present their best to the world, they, more often than not end up harming themselves beyond repair. This is precisely why I desired to author something on this subject as I have watched ample people suffer in abject silence, howbeit, it is here, again, that I wish to underline that people who do not want to acknowledge the reality that the pot is as much a part of our daily lives as is perfume, and try best to snub you if you attempt to reach out to them with your problems are not worthy to remain in your lives despite how dependent you are on them, or how intimate they pose and pretend they are with you.

Many flower in families where the seniors are riding horses at alarmingly dangerous speeds. In such homes you are bound to be crushed under the hoofs, unless, of course, you acquire the art of being around the horses, (occasionally even in the direct corridor) and yet know how to keep out of being (critically) harmed. The majority of such stories seem to share a common thread: we have individual A in a household, this individual A has had trouble with one or both of their parents. He or she observes that the low level of cohesion between his/her parents tends to, in some manner or the other, spill over on them, and they directly bear the brunt of the inefficient disparity between the battling adults. When that happens, they are evidently incapable in handling the frustration and fury of the attitudinal bickering, and as a consequence individual A mushrooms, but with an innate reservation, a subdued anger even, as they have not been able to rebuild themselves positively. As the trajectory of life steers ahead, individual A gives birth to a kid or kids. And still incapable to have found closure to their wounds, individual A ends up wounding their child/children in similar or even an augmented manner. Fast forward: as individual A’s kids are blossoming, they evolve feeling unloved or being micromanaged to cater to the whims and fancies of individual A’s mood swirls, and this anxiety, on an innocent mind, leads to an overwhelming scar – and only in some instances the kid/s manage to rise above the haranguing by mending the cracks in their minds, knowing perfectly well that their parent/s are/have been damaged. For the kid/s who are unable to recover from the mental disfigurement that their parent/s have thrust upon them, they turn into insecure, controlling, hateful brutes, and woefully, the vicious circle continues. This is where I would like to pause and urge every couple to introspect and focus on anything at all that has been unpleasant in their lives. I would urge every individual to seek assistance, and level the hurt and misgiving so that they can avoid committing the same high-handed mistakes before they embark into the next step of producing children. Remember that children need abundant care and love. That they are raw and impressionable, and that they should not be the receptacle of the traumas that you were unable to overcome. Children may not ask for it, but they covet the cordiality that only a parent can provide them. Hence, if you have zero interest or intent in wanting to raise a healthy and happy individual, be childless, but do not bring a life into the world and mutilate it before it can spread its wings to fly. 

There could also be instances where one of the parent is more abusive than the other, and when the dormant parent chooses to remain quiet, this furthermore, wrecks the child who can go on to become a vulnerable adult. Under such given psychological uncertainties, especially if you aren’t resilient enough to arise to atrocities or injustices at home, or in your immediate surroundings, it would be advisable that you reconsider marrying to begin with; as a broken brain cannot adjust healthily with their respective better halves, just as they are unqualified to take care of any offspring.   

We are all living at a fundamental level with a separation anxiety, and that is one reason why we subject ourselves, sometimes willingly, to the discriminations in our families. We each feel deeply disconnected from ourselves, from each other, from nature, and it is a wound that we haven’t really inherited from birth, it starts to surface in early childhood based on the behaviour meted out to us. As we navigate through life, we realise that we have a system that caters to that anxiety by helping us buying our way out of that separation anxiety through forms of acute distraction, and if that is not enough to deal with, alongside that, we develop a sense of a stunted freedom. People are free, theoretically, if you happen to live in the West, particularly in the legal sense or in a civil sense, but not on a deep psychological sense, and you observe how very much imprisoned they are by their superego, by social norms, and by constructs, and they look at ways and means to find an outlet to soothe their mind, and what a community offers is a chance to experience a reconnection, and a communion to something greater than us, but also an opportunity to break free from our conditioning and experience ourselves anew. Anyone who has gone through such damage and has looked for an escape knows that there is no rulebook to list down the harassment that people are subjected to within the four walls of one’s property, or even the walls of one’s mind. And drawing from those around me, owing that I am not an expert, I have endeavoured to make an inventory of some points here; points that I feel may help you deal with your pressure as nobody can unfetter you other than yourself. Once you have read this, do write to me and tell me what you have learnt from your own experiences. Who knows, I could perhaps pen a new piece highlighting the same that could benefit others who need restoration of their cognitive faculties. 

Conditions Apply In Order To Be Accepted 

To be recognised by the dominant member of the family, one is supposed to comply with the family narrative and value system. Any indication of being different or thinking autonomously is instantly rejected and you are left being polarised. 

Uncontested Obedience Is The New Normal 

A cruel element of life is that people who are in love with power thrive on berating you, they will try to nit-pick on you, to demoralise you, call you an utter disappointment. Every member of the family has to obey them without questioning them regardless of how illogical, ignorant, horrid or hurtful it is, and if you do not conform, then they will find fault in everything you do, and anything you do will never be good enough. If you are unlucky to have someone with such an injurious nature in your household, the best you can do is keep cool, and most importantly allow such intimidating digs at you pass. Reacting is of no use really as these type of individuals await such opportunities to unleash their terror. The more they know they have needled with you, the more they feel satisfied, and, if you are clever, you would know not to walk into such traps voluntarily.  

Bow And Take It

Irrespective of how right you are, or how rationally you have reacted, if it is not in compliance with the view of the dominant family member, you are unnecessarily targeted. It is here that you have to choose if you want to remain a doormat, or endure the brutalities until your threshold cannot take it anymore. It is here that you have to build up courage to react when faced with irreverent resistance. Word of warning: do not be a rug that others can clean their shoes upon, but engage your strategy discreetly as you are still under the cover of the reproachful family member.  

Render You Powerless

The dominant individual knows you are incapable of any reaction and hits you  where it hurts, and so, reacting or resisting can result in unimaginable levels of tension as these people, who are not used to being stood up to, cannot take a challenge, no matter how minuscule. At this juncture you have to be brave, and do what you have to do in order to preserve your sanity and maintain your self-respect. 

Humiliating And Discouraging 

Humiliating someone for no reason speaks about the insecurity, jealousy, envy and inability of the dominant family member. Little things like someone else being appreciated before them is something that they cannot digest. Remember here that it is not about you, it is about them; they are so drowned in their ego that they become livid when someone else is given credit for something else before them. Give them a wide margin as their highbrow development is constituted such that even if they haven’t done something, they ought to be applauded for it – they think it is their fundamental right. For example: if I had not brought you up the way I did, you would not have done what you did, and when you were being praised, the least you could have done was acquaint people that I was the one who truly warranted the credit or gratitude. You failing to do so, would result in highlighting your drawbacks before everybody; anywhere, anytime.  

When incidents like these occur often, do not be threatened by them. Let them shame you for as long as they wish, and as far and wide as they want. Don’t forget that people know what you are, and who you are. 

Taking Sides 

Any family who has had a dominant family member is not unfamiliar to the fact that such people prosper on ego greasing, and one of the biggest irking behavioural traits they cannot, and will not accept, from the rest of the family is when something is said by them and the family members do not take their side. 

As adults we can reason as to why the particular person is behaving in such an abhorring fashion, but children, alas, are not fully equipped to discern the difference, and it affects them most severely. If it is within your means, do not let the family member belittle you or your little siblings. Make it clear that you will not take such matters lying low. Once again, their magnified ego would not be able to accept opposition from you, and you will be blamed and shamed. Be level-headed by refraining to engage in a verbal duel with them, and where you feel you need an outlet for your disquiet or anger, talk to the people you trust. Do not take refuge in habits that could prove deterrent to your growth. 

Respect Me Or Else

Demanding family members choose the meekest or the strongest and make them their favourite people in the family. They do so because the meekest will respect them without disagreement, and the strongest (their idyllic flagbearers) will help spread their philosophies. 

Balance Is Another Name For Bunkum  

If you speak of equality or balance, if you attempt to reason, setting aside how sane your arguments may be, you will encounter aggression and be branded as idiotic or Machiavellian. This happens largely because the dominant family member is well aware that they stand on shaky grounds, and in order to preserve their power, by hook or by crook, the simplest weapon they would use is to deem your word as pure hogwash. Ignore, ignore, ignore, such ignorant oafs! 




One-Upmanship

When abused and disparaged at nearly everything you do, and yet they notice that you are going strong, the ego of the dominant family member seems defeated, and you are bound to be the target of fresher and fiercer forms of hatred. To break your fibre is the ultimate motive of the tormentor, and although it is easier said than done – keep quiet. Losing your temper is giving them the contentment of having accomplished what they had set out to achieve, so the secret is to be as unruffled as possible. 

Rage Can Be Rage Or Something Else

Anyone who has lived with someone who is overriding and egotistical knows that a small argument can snowball into anger, and anger into uncontainable rage. 

Sometimes, rage is a temperamental trait of a faulty upbringing. The person in question may not have been educated to behave correctly while coming of age, and thus, such indecorous behaviour would have become second skin. Uncommonly, rage can also be a medical condition that the family is far too frightened to address considering that it is next to impossible to get the dominant individual to be subjected to a medical assessment or examination. I had read somewhere that the euphoria brought about by overpowering someone can become a source of a rapturous addiction to the dominant human being. They relish seeing how someone trembles with fear, and it is an enchantment to their ego when one is unable to do anything about it. The flip side to something like this is that such distasteful behaviour, early enough, demolishes the dominant person’s own harmony and rhythm, and it is prudent that you desist from upsetting yourself on something that is beyond your control. 

Emotional Scraping

Abuse can have a lasting impact on people, and it takes years for such ill-treatment to relax in the absence of the dominant person. Sorrowfully though, in certain instances, the emotional scraping is so vast that some of those who have been abused seldom recover from it, and such angst hinders with the daily workings of them having to lead a normal and joyous life. If you feel that you are one of those who has been inflicted with such hurt, it is judicious that you solicit professional help in order for you to unchain yourself from that which is holding you back from breathing free. 

Standing Up To Them

Verbally questioning the actions and reactions of arduous individuals is still manageable, but not adhering to their impractical demands can lead to you being beleaguered further. When containment with words would fail, matters could lead to physical abuse by the dominant person. The said individual would (in all probability) concoct a scheme to keep you constantly under distress, and if you are young and dependent, then you could be arm twisted to levels of being made to feel most helpless and miserable. If you are an adult and are caught between the devil and the deep sea for some unforeseen reason, you have to discover ingenious ways to divert your mind from such unfitting behaviour since you know that there is no way out of it. Besides, do not presume that you are being defeatist or a coward if you are submitting to the bully in order to keep yourself sane. Tell yourself that not every day is a Sunday, and you would find a way out of the predicament if you apply your mind to it. What’s more? Being a scapegoat can teach you never to be like the very ones you dislike, and, as a blessing in disguise, you may become gentler, refined, and realise in the long run that the final winner is undeniably an affable demeanour; because, eventually compassion and truth prevails as opposed to ego and insolence. 

Neglect And Safety 

When things do not go by the book with uncivilised individuals, the other tactic they tend to emanate cheerfully is neglect. Neglect, they believe, will break one little-by-little. In numerous instances it does result in breaking people, but you should take that conduct as something of a benediction –as it gives you the time to do more with your life since you are not being subjected to repeated mental and physical torture. Utilise that time of inattention instead to enrich your abilities. Moreover, that you are in a safety zone, rouse in yourself ways and means to uncover who you are. Trust a mentor, friend, girlfriend for open-minded criticism and ways and means for you to improve yourself. Do not clasp onto harmful dependences; such as finding solace in sex or drugs, particularly in the instance where you are unable to deal with either the cold abandonment, or the upsetting disparagement at home. Remember that safety is in being safe with someone who understands you, and such people don’t merely fall from the sky, you have to have patience, and if you are fortunate to find the accurate fit for each of your natures then you would have to nurture such relationships to a level of nourishing fruition. When something like that happens you will see that your life is far more jolly than the dark and demonic life that you would have faced at the hands of the very ones who had to actually protect and love you at home. 

Nobody Is Perfect 

No family is ideal and no two human beings are alike. Everybody has somebody who can push them against the wall, and every individual’s limit to deal with adversities greatly varies. There would be sufficient permutations and combinations wherein we can convince ourselves that by surrendering to obedience we are perhaps losing our identity, and that by warring we are winning – those are convenient ways of fooling ourselves. As kids, if we oppose problematic people, it spells nothing short of misfortune, and as adults if we do not stall adversity, we will find ourselves dead even before we are dead. With life being horrifically short, the last thing you want is to live it pleasing others who care a rats arse if you are happy, alive, or dead, so take no risks if you are mature enough to understand that what you need is a way out, but are still a dependent on the family, and as an adult, see if you can push it to the best of your abilities, and under the circumstances where you see even a flicker of hope, then iron out your differences. However, in the eventuality of figuring that there is nil scope for any improvement, move out for good, and move on with life. 

Think About This

When people come from difficult families, they tend, once again, to ferret about for life partners who are proportionately difficult. Do not make that mistake. Wait, weigh, watch and decide if a person blends warmly with you. A friend once told me, ‘What a partner looks for in a another partner is to de-stress and not add on more stress’, and those were rather effective words.

At times we may handpick someone whom we let cling onto us because, one, we carry within us the inherent misgiving of having been neglected, and, ergo, to have someone cling onto us seldom appears like an invasion of one’s personal space, which, under common conditions, would be most exasperating, and two, as creatures of habit we are accustomed to being under constant tension, and we find consolation in someone who clings onto us as an emotional reimbursement for the weight we are missing when we were back home. On both counts let us strive not to cling, or let anyone cling onto us. Let us unshackle – it is only then that one would find oneself stress-free and one can love and behold someone else for good or for worse, in sickness and in health. 

Finally – Is There A Way Out Of This?

Yes, definitely. The key is to stop being the victim for the betterment of your own health. 

Next, one does not have to reach the above conclusions in a haste. Think, analyse, discuss matters that mandate tinkering or reclamation, and give it adequate time. Albeit, if you think that matters are actually irreversible, set out then to carve your independent path in life as I suggested in a paragraph before. 

Third, once you move out of the nest, it would be dreadfully hard in the beginning as you will be smacked with a spasm of isolation, segregation, quarantine, and this is because people get so accustomed to being battered that such a bearing becomes a part of their behavioural DNA, and when sheer freedom is obtained, they find it taxing to adjust to things going on rather smoothly. This is exactly where you have to pacify yourself that the gnawing feeling of missing being tormented is now finally over. And once you adapt to the physical and cerebral equanimity, and when joy becomes a day-to-day pattern as formerly compared to a rare luxury, you will find an indescribable comfort, an intrinsic awareness of an utter release and relief. Until then, please be patient, and, yes, abstain from being hard on yourself by GIVING YOURSELF TIME. 




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NAKED TRUTH




. . . What do you think? I think Twain was both right and wrong. Indeed, clothes make the man – they give them an uncontested charm that can be instantly pleasing to the eyes. And indeed, to be naked can have little or no influence on the society, but being in the flesh has its own benefits, understandably, not walking down the street naked; that is a symbol of unrefined exhibitionism, but being bare within one’s own dominion brings an element of primitive pleasure, something that can simply be found when one is free of bodily accoutrements. It is here that I thought immediately of something most beautifully befitting by Sartre, he said, People who live in society have learnt how to see themselves, in mirrors, as they appear to their friends. I have no friends: is that why my flesh is so naked?” 

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REMEMBERING THE ANCIENT RHYTHMS OF THE SOUL






PART 1




The author Richard Sennett said that sometimes it helps to see ourselves by stepping into another person’s shoes, that looking at how cultures quite foreign to our own assess social capital and cooperation we can learn far more than what we have been taught. He explained that modern China offers one way to do so; that is have a strong ‘code’ for social cohesion, despite the fact that the country is aggressively capitalist lately, and that this ‘code’ is what the Chinese call guanxi. The systems analyst Yuan Luo describes guanxi as ‘an intricate and pervasive relational network which the Chinese cultivate energetically, subtly, and imaginatively’. The network means a Chinese immigrant feels free to call on a third cousin in a foreign city for a loan, while at home, it is the shared experiences and memories among friends, rather than written contracts or laws, that lay the foundations for trust in business dealings. In families, guanxi has a further reach in the practice common to many non-Western societies of young people sending home whatever they can spare of their usually meagre wages, rather than spending all that they earn on themselves. ‘Duty’ better names these social relations than ‘social capital’. 

So is honour a better name some ask? Well, in a way, yes, Guanxi invokes honour as a key ingredient of social relations. Douglas Guthrie, an American student of Chinese guanxi, explains that it is akin to the old Western business code, ‘My word is my bond.’ You can count on other people in the network, especially when the going gets tough; they are honour-bound to support you rather than take advantage of your weakness. Also, one must keep in mind that Guanxi entails something other than sympathy; people in the network criticise one another, and they nag each other; they may not be nice to one another, but they feel obliged to prove helpful when the occasion arises. And in many ways than one, this code of guanxi is an example of how a social bond can shape economic life and bail one out of the doldrums. To throw some more light on it, guanxi, in essence, as a bond, is informal in character, establishing a network of support outside a rigid circle of established rules and regulations. The bond is a necessity in the fast-changing, often chaotic conditions of China especially today, since many of its official rules are dysfunctional; the informal, personal network helps people go around these, in order, to survive and prosper. 

The value of informal cohesion is not new, it has already appeared to us, in say dialogic exchanges, whether in a conversation or in the community organisation. The West, however, wants to establish the scope of these exchanges in its society, but, the bigger question is: do they have an equal practical value as they do for the Chinese? And the answer lies in two reasons why the West might want to think like the Chinese about cooperation. 

First, if informal, the guanxi network is also meant to be sustainable. Sometime in the future, the one who gets help will give it back in a form neither party may now foresee, but knows will occur. Guanxi is a relationship meant to endure from generation to generation. By the standards of a Western contract, there’s no reality in such an ill-defined expectation; for the Chinese student, government worker or businessman, the expectation itself is solid, because people in the network punish, or shun those, who later prove unresponsive. It is a question for us of holding people accountable in the future for their actions in the present. 

Secondly, people in a guanxi network are not ashamed of dependency. You can establish guanxi with someone who needs you, or whom you need, beneath or above you in the pecking order. The Chinese family, as traditionally in other societies, has been a site of dependency without shame, and shame has become deeply associated in Western culture with self-control; losing control over your body, or your words, has become a source of shame. Modern family life, and, even more, modern business practice, has extended the idea of self-containment: dependency on others is taken to be a sign of weakness, a failure to promote autonomy and self-sufficiency; the autonomous individual appears free. But looked at from the perspective of a different culture, the Chinese or the Asian culture, a person who prides him-or-herself on not asking for help appears a deeply damaged human being; fear of social embeddedness dominates his or her life. 

As you can see, guanxi in itself is congenial in spirit; so too, I suspect, would settlement-house workers and community activists a century ago, who were congenial, and sharing, and giving despite of having to be a part of the Western world. The common thread is an emphasis on the qualities of a social relationship, on the power of duty and honour. A culture can be ferocious. It can be capitalist like it is in China at the moment. By our standards, that fact seems difficult to reconcile with culture practises, still, some Chinese believe that guanxi is beginning to break down as the country more and more comes to resemble the West in its ways of parenting, working and consuming. While all cultures have their pros and cons, it would be nice to know why certain aspects of the Western culture has this corrosive effect on people and thinking. 



PART 2



The recent epidemic of unprecedented proportions; the Covid-19, or Corona as it is commonly known, has caught us off-guard, and though one is led to feel regret, more so for the ones hit by the economic uncertainty the world over, one wishes, however, that we human beings realise from this strain that the first thing we need to do is to slow down, and maybe attempt to plant a seed and watch it until the flower grows. That the instant gratification culture of ours has nearly ruined all that we hold dear, and until we find meaning in what we say and do, our world will be as chaotic as it was when we were accelerating at the speed of light without the light in sight.


PARENTING


Trying times nearly always reveal the true faces: there is no time to put on masks, and likewise, history has taught us, especially from the stories that have emerged from war, that you see a pristine, almost primeval side of compassion when faced with life-threatening situations. These times are no less than war, and it is at this stage that we need to erase the prejudices we may hold towards attitudes and people so that we can collectively work towards the betterment of the community. Let us take hugging for example. It is an intrinsic part of our culture in Asia, and furthermore, as Muslim, we have no qualms in holding hands of our male friends, coiling our arm round our best friend’s neck, wrestling with each other so as to laugh our lungs (and in some cases our guts out), kiss on the cheeks when we greet, and touch our noses like the Arabs do in order to feel a closeness, a connection, togetherness, and it is here that I would like to extend the concept of guanxi to matters of personal dealings rather than keeping it limited merely to business traditions as I explained above. 

None of us, from this side of the world, look at any of the aforementioned human contact with anything else than the feeling of intimacy, whereas, some of them, the newer generation, think that such a behaviour between people of the same gender is unhealthy. When questioned about why they think such behaviour is unhealthy, one hears: I have seen it on the telly, or read an article that any form of touch is not a good touch. We can talk from a distance, civilly, as human beings do, right. Why touch each other? This is where I suspect that parenting is failing us miserably, especially the parenting that has grown on Western principles and does not quite discern the difference between what is acceptable and what is off-limits. Let me throw further light on this with regard to some of the detrimental ways of the West: while in the process of writing this piece, I happened to watch a Spanish television series, where a young man’s grandmother walks into the room when her grandson and his best friend are exchanging a hug before the friend is leaving his friend’s home. The old lady rolls her eyes and states, ‘When two men hug each other, they have to be gay, or actors.’ It was as if this scenario was tailored to help me write on it in this piece; for starters, being a heterosexual male, I was, at once, put off by that very manner of looking at something as beautiful as a hug being coated with something as preposterous as a sexual connotation, and so my next question is:


CONSUMPTION


Why are we letting this unhealthy Western philosophy make room in our hearts? Why are we letting the West inject their unhealthy mind sciences into our healthy minds? When we Asian, Arab, men meet, we do all that I said we did in the preceding paragraphs, and know that what such an act of camaraderie did was make us feel wanted, and loved, and that simple lack of feeling love and the feeling of being wanted was turning the Western populace into touch starved monsters, and such people ended up being depressed, violent or even suicidal. Don’t you think it is time that the West learnt from us Asians, Arabs how to greet and meet and live with each other? And get rid of the ‘I, Me, Myself’ doctrine of behaviour that is killing them? Could they not loosen up so that they would indeed not feel deprived of touch, of love, an essential component of keeping a human being in behaving like a human being - something that is more depressing and lonely than a strain of virus that has left us arrested, and at home, in a state of uncertain lockdown?


WORKING


An additional, injurious Western concept that we are implementing in our cohesive society is that of nuclear families. The West thinks that to stay with family after a certain age is being less an individual, and they would go any lengths to fight for preserving their individuality. They have failed to understand, most simply, that there is immense power in unity, and that we need the support of our loved ones, just as much as they need us, at any given time of our lives. And the Covid-19 has brought to light examples of this decay that we have willingly subjected ourselves into: nearly everything, in nearly every part of the world, is in a state of suspension, and the jarring psychological, as well as physical impact such an isolation has had on people has devastated them, while the families that lived together have managed to combat loneliness, the management of children, and whatever the rest of the demons were, with much ease. Also, what something like this does, at its basest, is that it teaches us  humility,  tolerance, and compromise, and it renews in us the fact that the only bond that keeps us together is love, and in extreme circumstances, where it is inevitable to live under one roof, one must try and live close to each other so that you can be separate, and yet together, just so that the fine fibre of love remains intact. 

It is not merely about geographical zones, creeds, cultures, or communities. It is not about who is good and who is bad, what is good and what is bad, it is only about the mindset, and adopting the positively best from the various zones, creeds, cultures and communities. Let me put it this way: we love our bodies. We workout and we keep a tab on our diet by treating our bodies like we would do a shrine in order to keep it running efficiently. However, when we are struck with an ailment, we visit the specialist without delay, and get rid of what was limiting us, and this is where I ask, when we do that to our body, couldn’t we apply that mindset to our minds too? 

I would like to end this with something I was reading by Josh Radnor. It said, but it’s the arc of every great fairy tale, right? We leave home (the comfortable, the familiar) to journey into the dark wood. Only there – in the terrifying shadow – are we able to confront our fears and push past our limitations. In that battle we are transformed so that when we return home, we return home changed, upgraded, and bearing gifts for those we love (In a neat twist, our actual homes are the current dark wood.) 

The only way I can get through something like this is to view it in these mythic dimensions, to understand that this supremely odd world-wide moment we are all sharing provides us with a divine opportunity to see what we are really made of. To transform our lives and our world for the better. Or as Francis Weller recently put it, “This is a season of remembering the ancient rhythms of soul. It is a time to become immense.”


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