Am I a writer by default?
I never had any dreams of becoming a writer. In fact I used be one of those to brandish the view that all those who land up with writing as a profession are generally the unsuccessful ones in other types of verbal and nonverbal communication, the innate choices of expression for all forms of life. Writing never comes to us as you would expect, whenever we feel strongly about something, the natural response always is to express, share or to tell someone. When that becomes an impossibility, either due to our inability in conveying opinions, thoughts or ideas well, or due to our lack of success in finding someone willing to listen to what we say, we are forced to resort to unnatural paths of release, writing being one such path. The most likely causes are unpopularity, seclusion and other undesirable elements of life. Naturally, the more such elements are associated with someone; the greater are the chances of achieving success as a writer!
During my student days onwards I used to enjoy lengthy and protracted discussions on topics of contemporary charm, temporal relevance and mutual interest. I had been noticing that whenever the topic of discussion seemed to veer around caste, a strange transition took place in our circle. Almost all participants started losing their steam, some of them instantly coming up with an excuse to withdraw from the conversation with a few among them going to the extent of detaching completely from all future discourses! It was only their earnest desire to maintain the friendship that made the few, who continued their involvement with this ‘intellectual exchange’, do so.
Caste being a stark reality of daily life, topics related to that could not be kept away for long. It used to appear in our midst oftentimes and as a consequence, the size of our discussion group kept on diminishing. Finally it reached the condition where difficulties were being encountered in mustering even a minimum quorum for initiating a chit-chat, let alone deliberations, and I had to resort to writing whenever the need to release myself arose. I became an occasional writer and only when I started to put my thoughts on paper did I become aware of my gross ignorance on these and other issues of sociology which luckily prodded me on to read every book that contained some serious discussions on social stratification and related topics.
As luck would have it, I found myself in hospital quite frequently for a few years beginning with one year at a stretch, injured and confined to bed with books as the main companions. To add to my good fortunes, specialists of more than one discipline of medical science were needed to examine and treat my injury and that necessitated frequent visits to many hospitals. In all these places, the patient’s library was well stocked, with the complete works of Mahatma Gandhi adorning the main bookshelf. I randomly took one of the volumes and read. To my shock I found Mahatma Gandhi’s opinions on most of the topics of social relevance to be vastly different from the prevailing and generally accepted view. And that egged me on, to read the collection in full to find myself completely at variance with the popular opinion, on almost all social issues.
The ideas presented, in all the books dealing with the issue of caste that I happen to read for the next 20 - 25 years, can be summarized in one sentence. In reality, caste is nothing but an apparition instituted by certain group of people to suppress the remaining, the plethora of rules and observances aimed to keep them always under a tight leash and in perpetual submission. Any worthwhile exception to this could be found only in Mahatma Gandhi, whose writings exhorted those lower in caste to release themselves from the yoke they are under and to surpass the upper caste brethren by freely competing with them.
I ended up collating my skewed thoughts, which could assemble together and put across a substantially different view of caste. And the result is my first book, Origin of Caste in India, revised and republished as Caste: The Unexplored Territories.
But trouble didn’t leave me. For every answer that I did conjure up, my book in fact posed many new questions. How come we in India came to adopting such system like caste, which has the potential to bring down the capabilities of Indians lower with each passing day when compared to those inhabiting the rest of the world? Further reflection on similar issues affecting other societies could easily convince me that we in India are not the only ones to choose the irrational. Man always will choose the most complex or contorted one, among all the available solutions to a given problem (it is only incidental that some solutions turn out to be rational!) and caste happened to be one such solution to the problem of social harmony. Now I am faced with a bigger question, what makes us choose thus, going always for the input intensive?
At this juncture, some images of animal behavior that were lying dormant in me for long, came to fore. I had been observing that discernible differences exist between the ways male and female of the animals reacted to events and occurrences of living. Mulling over, I had to admit that equivalents for the particularities found among men and women (see bestsellers like ‘men are from mars…’) could easily be identified among all other forms of life. That male and female of all species react differently to the same signals and circumstances was an aphorism I could easily formulate. It was only a matter of time that I could publish my new theory; these peculiarities originate from a single source, the one that is intended to give each species, the impetus to evolve. I published the theory as my second book, Origin of Evolution. But in a short while and with closer look, I revised, further developed with an intuitive title and published the book as 'The Unsure Male'.
I was carefully observing my surroundings, always with an eye to locate the nonconforming, anything that can pose a question to the theory of the unsure male. As time went by, not only that I did not notice anything that could have put this theory to question, but also found present, some more remarkable quirks in all the activities of life and living. These I compiled initially as 'hubs' at hubpages.com, and was published later as a book, ‘Hubs that Provoke’.