I inhabit the same, shitty world. I live here, shoulder to shoulder with you, watching terrible things happen on television. I watch gruesome videos play automatically on my Facebook feed just like you, helpless in morbid curiosity. I live in the fears, the terrors, the struggles of the everyday just like you. I too look in the mirror and see the potbelly screaming back at me to do something, do something, do something about it. I walk the same streets, worried to death about dying in a freak accident of road rage; I sit through discussions on the fragile economy wondering whether my pay check will be enough. I make sacrifices too. I want checks and balances. I love safety, security and a sense of certainty about my future just as much as the next person. Risk analysis is second nature to me; probabilities are so ingrained in the way I think that when a disaster strikes I crunch mental numbers to ensure I’m better prepared next time. I prepare. I salivate, but I save. I do all this. Just like you do.
I understand how it all works. I know how the world we live in is so irreparably broken that we can only depend on ourselves. So don’t talk down to me. Don’t condescend, dismiss, laugh me off like I’m living in a fantasy. I’m not.
The difference between you and me, dear realist, is that I still give a fuck. I don’t just measure the cough syrup and drink it up every day. I still sometimes sit back and think about how it would be not to ever have a sore throat again. I still think about clean roads. I still worry about morality; about the ethics of our times; about the transcendental, ugly, unnerving truths that perpetuate everyday misdemeanors. I still think about the rude neighbour and wonder what constant frustrations could have led to his behaviour – and then, I think about how that could be avoided, in general. I do. I live through the same damn shit as you, and yet, I hold on to the grain of hope, a little sanity that might one day blast through the narrow, dank corridors of your vision for the future. I still dream. I still think big picture. I still think grand narratives. I still think about perfection. I still think about the road to it.
And I know you do too. I know in some dark corner of your soul, there’s a little isolation chamber, 2 feet by 2 feet, where the idealist in you has been sentenced to solitary confinement. And once in a while, when all the numbers align and the worst happens to you – I hear him scream. He screams in protracted agony; he sends the ghosts of his murdered hopes over your calculating conscious mind in a tsunami of regret; inconsolable, you let the words “I wish” slip from your lips like the last, lingering drops of a devastating oil spill. I know he’s still alive, but only just. And you know it too.
But just because you’re meting out torture to your inner bright-eyed child does not justify the way you treat me. You have no right to put me down. Back off.
Next time I hear you look sadly at me and say “arrey but ye toh bahut idealistic hai na” [“yeah but that’s too idealistic”], I may not take it standing down. You’ve been warned.
Being an idealist is impractical, it’s childish, it’s far fetched, and it will never lead to anything real. I know. I KNOW. Just like being practical will never lead to improvement, innovation, betterment, rejuvenation, replenishment – revolution. I dare say your shortcomings are far more damning to humanity’s future. And yet, I don’t stoop to your level. I don’t use the words ‘practical’, or ‘realistic’, as cuss words.
Do you know why?
Because that’s not how the ideal me talks.