The Best Thing That Money Can Buy

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Police. They might put up a facade of peace and justice, but appearance is not the essence.

Equilibrium can be obtained in situations of imbalance by letting things be. But to maintain imbalance you need to exert external force. And this force becomes necessary in human society when one class “possesses” and other does not. Some people are systematically empowered to dictate the terms on which other people live, work and trade. The ones who do not fit into their idea of a “law abiding citizen”, are dealt with according to their whims.

There are unacceptable people like Salman:

The police said Salman, 25, and his six friends, including two women, had showed disrespect to the national anthem while it was being played inside a movie theatre in the city on August 18. A few others who saw the group remaining seated and allegedly “making catcalls” when the anthem was being played lodged a complaint with the police.

And like factory workers all around the country:

Gowda continued, “The police then forcibly tried to shove workers into the company bus using such violence that two workers fell to the ground. They pounced on the workers, beating them and stomping on them with their boots. The two had to be hospitalized along with seven others who were suffering from the effects of hunger strike.”

And like the activist protesting against actions of Indian armed forces:

The Indian human rights activist Irom Sharmila, who has been on a hunger strike for nearly 14 years to protest a law that gives impunity to armed forces serving in the state of Manipur, was arrested Friday just two days after a court ordered her release from custody

And hundreds of thousands of other “agitators”, most of them unknown.

A recklessly driven police bus went out of control at Rangmahal Square on Thursday morning and crushed a woman to death.

After this incident, demonstrators (including the victim’s son) were beaten by lathis.

Innocents, more often than not, are framed by police just to “close the file” or due to pressure from their higher authorities (mostly when the actual convict is rich enough to bribe the officers). And lets not forget the famous Indian Police Encounters. [1] [2]

Now, where is the media that argues for the interests of poor, oppressed and the minorities? Where is our police force? The truth is, we only have each other. Protests give us voice against injustice. They accuse us of being outside agitators, promising alternatives if we cooperate, but they will do anything to undermine the struggle.

Why don’t we realize that we can aim beyond these police structures. These are just working alternatives. We do need help in some situations but that help doesn’t have to be from cops. We can call our friends or people who, in the particular case, might resolve our problem. For example, Collectives and Communes like The Rape Crisis Center, community-based organizations like SOS Collectives and groups like the ones who searched for thousands of Holocaust survivors and volunteers in Syria, WhiteHelmets.

Even in day-to-day life, communities with “right to issue orders” and “right to settle disputes” and agreements based on diffused sanctions and various social sanctions are examples that prove that we are capable enough of managing our own affairs without a specialized group which has a monopoly over the use of violence!

A Moment’s Escape

‘ Strap them on, I like the way you look in them.’

I glanced back at him, his eyes hidden behind the glass he was emptying. He put it down, wiped his mouth and looked at me. A little smile playing on his lips, his eyes, polite. I smirked and got back to my glass, touching the brim. I liked rum I told him, though I’d rather just have the coke. Wine would’ve been expensive, though I wouldn’t mind the cheaper port kind, if only he could find it. We only had half hour and role play was costing too much.

‘ Try being a little more expeditious than that, monsieur. ‘

He caught the sarcasm and the word, I was impressed. Ruffling his hair, he decided to give himself a moment. On the floor, my heels crossed on the mattress, he took my foot in his hand and kept on his lap. Taken by his touch, I almost forgot about the liquid edging at the brim. I caught myself before my expressions would betray me, though I was relieved to find him occupied elsewhere. None of the things I had seen or read could’ve prepared me for what was happening. His fingers gently took the black four inch heels he had me buy, and put them on my foot, buckle by buckle.

As I watched him do it, it struck me that none of the guys ever went for the foot. Which is strange knowing that foot fetishes are as common as well, everything we get to hear about pleasure. I remember the pillow talks I’ve had in past and how I wish I never have to have another one in future. They’re good as long as they use their mouths for other than talking.  And this one was nicely on track. Eyes closed, back on the wall and my feet in his warmth, I let my thoughts wander. They say drinks help you loosen up. I believe all they do is allow one to be their visceral self, and be socially acceptable at the same time. I suppose that’s quite something, simply because nothing else liberates people from our society’s judgment.  I figured its wiser to know how to control myself with alcohol in my system than to regret later not having the experience. Though, as months passed by, I realized that the only thing they help me do, is stop thinking. It would make sense to believe that its the ability to think critically and process information which makes people who they are, though its this same relentless process which has sapped me of my energy.  A few weeks back, when I was in a risky situation, I decided to examine my body as part of an experiment. Over the week, with harrowing obsessing and over thinking, as my stress level rose I observed my health deteriorate, and ultimately succumb to disastrous cold and a fever. Astounded by mind’s capacity to influence the body, I decided to test reaction time lines by eliminating the stress factor and found a dramatic change : my temperature dropped by three points, and my cold disappeared overnight.

Mind and it’s capabilities have never ceased to take me by surprise, or the utter stupidity of people for that matter. Remembering all the needless drama that used to happen in college, I wondered when our minds are capable of great deeds, why do people entangle themselves in superficiality of perceptions and forget that opinions are but worthless entities. The only time their presence should be dealt with, is when they penetrate through the psyche and start brewing trouble. We can chose to not have it affect us, just like everything else, though that is also a very slippery slope.

I remember reading this book on the paradox of choice, where they talk about how we tend to believe that our choices are our own, making us the true creators of our world.  It reflects on the belief, that to maximize welfare of the people, one should maximize freedom, and the way to do that, is to maximize choice. After all, when we have lots of choice, we can pick what’s best for us. This thought that – choice and it’s power of autonomy – is absolute, is so deeply ingrained in our system, that people don’t even bother to question it anymore. I smirked at the change of the discourse of my thoughts. Really, this incessant thinking needs some serious stopping. If the prospect of a decently pleasing company had no effect, I wondered what would. Reflecting on my love for solitude, l started thinking if we were (if at all) capable of making decisions unaffected by the world. Even though we’d like to think our decisions aren’t a function of our surroundings (the environment, the society and the company we spend our time with), it would be misleading to believe so. Humans as social animals have this need to be regarded/perceived in society in a certain way and it’s our choices which allow us to achieve that image. We never make simply an individual choice and quite often have our choices mirror others‘, obsessed with how we’d be judged. It’s quite an anxiety provoking thing, and we have an entire industry (fashion, of course) based on this fact. It’s somewhat similar to when people go to a fancy restaurant with company, they’re usually unsure on which wine to choose. They find if they choose an expensive one, they’ll be perceived as a show off, or if they picked an inexpensive one, they’d be the ‘cheapskate’. In this way they usually end up choosing the bottle which they probably didn’t want to pick to begin with, but did so in order to appease the guilt and anxiety of being unable to make the ‘socially acceptable’ choice.

My mind paused to weigh the plausibility of the point it was making, when I realized something was different. He was somehow, really warm. Well, they usually are, and the fact that I’m always cold to touch, plays well with both parties. I smiled, and my thoughts took a shift. I began to see that where as drinks gave me a heavy head, this right here, was oddly relaxing and without a headache. Almost like having pleasure without the consequences, (though at least not of the same kind). With a slow surge of heat, I felt my skin getting hotter. All those sensible sentences slowly started to crumble and words morphed into sounds. The background gave away at its entities and they all vanished as if they were etchings in the sand, blown in the wind. My mind reached to the edges, pulling at the thoughts but they seem to loose matter and before long,  grasping at the remains, I was left with nothing but distant sounds. I could feel the sweat ready to break in and I knew it was time.

And in that moment, finally, there was silence.