By Saamir Askari
Edited by Nidhi Singh
As friends go, Daman is a good one. He’s one those magnetic characters who thrives on an audience. He regales you with his tales, entices you with his secrets stashed, and then leaves you with a smile. He comes and goes as he pleases, and you await his presence each time. I have the honour of being his friend.
As students go however, Daman isn’t the finest you’ll find. Don’t get me wrong – with wit sharp as a blade and a library for a brain, he’s not found lacking in the intelligence department. He just can’t seem to apply himself, and it was when he came to me with a wry smile that I knew either he didn’t like what I was wearing, and would immediately start questioning my taste in fashion, or that something was wrong. Daman never frowns, and it’s that wry smile that’s a tell when something isn’t quite right.
“I’ve failed,” he muttered.
“That’s quite alright, you can always give the backs”, I assured him.
“I’m afraid that isn’t an option anymore. I’ve failed all of them, and they’re asking me to repeat the year.”
“But Daman how’s that possible? They can’t ask you to repeat an entire year, you’re one of the smarter ones in your college. Which isn’t saying much because it’s Ramjas, but still. Wait, aren’t you really good at English?”
“Who isn’t good at English?” he retorted. “Besides, I’ve realised English isn’t what I want to do. If they indeed make me repeat the year, I’m going to march into the Principal’s office, slam the door behind me, throw my bag on his coat rack, hurl my papers on his face, look at him right in the eye, and tell him, “I’m going to the Andamans”.
“Daman I don’t think that line would carry the same gravity as your actions.”
“You don’t get it man. I am going. To the Andamans. For my diving masters.”
“Your diving masters? I didn’t know people specialised in falling underwater.”
“What would you know, you’re just listening to The Man.”
And with that he walked off. Daman had a habit of having the last word.
His parting words don’t carry much significance often, yet that day his words lingered in my head and it got me thinking. Why must I toil away in a course I don’t like, simply because it will lead to some doors with money behind them? Why must I work my way to a job whose terms I will begrudgingly accept, all to work under someone probably unpleasant? I gave it some thought, and I’ve considered the road less traveled.
We as humans, seek solace in surety. It is our primal instinct as animals to look for security and avoid danger. In pre-historic times, it was an important trait as our existence was constantly under threat given our position in the food chain. Now however, I feel this tendency to be secure has held us back from truly realising our potential as a species.
Since the emergence of capitalism in the 19th Century, we have seen the prevalence of two classes – the owners of means of production, and the working class or the bourgeoisie. Capitalism works on the centrality of money principle, where money is invested to create more money, through the medium of extracting economic surplus from the working class. Over the years this system has been ingrained in our minds. We no longer question the system, and most of us don’t question our status in it.
Being a part of the working class in retrospect has historically never been something that was vied for. When capitalism emerged out of landlordism, it was out of necessity that people submitted themselves to the landlords. They did not have land to live off of, and they resorted to working for the lord’s demesne. Later in the new era of capitalism, workers were asked to work in shoddy factories in hazardous environments for incredibly long hours. Now we have employees chained to their desks, working in front of screens for hours on end, with the only winners being the owners and the local chiropractor. I must add that it was always hard for the working class to challenge this exploitative system, but is it so anymore?
Only those who do not possess the means of production join the working class. Initially that means was land, then physical capital, and more recently financial capital. However now in this age of digitalization and free access to knowledge, is it so hard to escape the shackles the bourgeoisie are chained to? I believe it is quite facile to chart your own path today, and find your own way to greatness and success. With the plethora of apps and the Internet at our command, we can control so many parameters our ancestors were unsure of. We now have more information, and we’re getting it faster than ever before. Slowly but surely, we humans are removing all the barriers to realising our dreams. Being a part of the bourgeoisie is no longer a necessity; it is now only an option. Whether it is diving or anything else, we now have the resources in our hands to take the risk of jumping and end up not falling on our faces.
Will you take the plunge, or does that corner office look too comfy?
Saamir is a student of Economics at Hindu College, Delhi University. He is a writer across various platforms, most noticeably as a playwright. Apart from having a keen interest in the political and economic affairs of the country, he spends most of his time either in a cold, dark room writing; or on a hot, vast track running. He can be contacted either via his blog (fosterthepapayas.tumblr.com), or through his email (firstname.lastname@example.org).