"All you Brahmins are like this."
I heaved a sigh of relief. So, I was not responsible for my actions, then. After all, if what I am was genetically coded into me from birth, could anyone hold me responsible for being who I am or acting as I did?
Apparently, they could. It was one of the earliest lessons in human relations for me and one I have still not fully internalized. If I had committed what my cohorts thought was a behavioral crime, it was quite possible that those criminal tendencies got attributed to my nationality, caste, community, state whatever, but that still did not absolve me of my own responsibility. Hmmm! Hardly seemed worth having a convenient community to blame things on, if this is how it worked. I mean, if I have to shoulder the guilt and blame for what anyone from that group had done since the dawn of life to date, it is only fair that I am, at least, relieved of personal responsibility, isn't it? Something on the lines of, "Poor chap! He cannot help acting the way he does, after all, since he was born so-and-so." Not happening.
Just as I was getting myself accustomed to this strange unfairness of life (Yeah! I know everyone says, 'Who says Life is fair?' but that does not mean that you readily digest the idea. Stupid to think that knowing something makes it palatable. It is not as though the fact that you know Chennai is particularly sultry in Summer makes you feel any more comfortable to be there, then), Life throws a curve-ball at me.
"Ah! You IIM guys can never really understand these things."
Huh! What now? One year back, it was alright for me to discuss the thusness of economics in India and say whatever I wanted. Now, just because I had spent a year at IIM (I would have said 'studied' but I am afraid of my mates and professors calling me a liar), I was suddenly someone incapable of seeing things, except in the IIM way, whatever that was. It is as though the place we study works on the raw dough of our personalities and turns out perfectly uniform cookies and, thus, the student of one becomes incapable of seeing the point of view of the student of another. (Maybe I was the exceptional lump of pre-hardened dough. That would explain why, whenever I say I passed out of IIM, people give me that peculiar look that as good as says that they are too polite to call me a liar to my face.) Either that, or it is that same thing of having to carry the collective guilt - which is the sum of all the individual guilt of all past students of IIM, as seen by Society. (Oh! What about virtues, you ask? I refer you to Bill Shakespeare - 'The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.') So, effectively, if I am from IIM, I was supposed to venerate the corporate and look down on the rest.
"What do you city guys, in your comfortable air-conditioned offices, know about the farmer's problems?"
My God! You just digest one thing and the next thing socks you in the face. Whatever was I going to say to this? Now I was also expected to achieve some sort of uniformity with all these millions of guys who live in my city or, even, with all those tens of millions of people living in all the cities of the world? Tough ask - especially since I would also have to carefully leave out people like this guy, who also lived in a city but was endowed with a mystic understanding of the farmer's problems that elude the rest of us city-slickers.
Needless to say, I find myself lost and floundering in this world of ours. Something has been royally messed up in my make-up, I suppose, since I do not seem to have the collective persona of all those things I am - TamBrahm, IIM grad, city-living etc etc. It seems as though every single cookie-cutter that I passed through has broken its teeth on me without making the slightest impression on my personality.
AND, of course, I have absolutely no perspicacity. I mean these guys know how Brahmins think and behave - without being Brahmins, themselves. They know how IIM guys react - without necessarily passing through IIM. And I, poor mutt that I am, have no clue about how a farmer feels because I am no farmer.
When I am at the Pearly Gates, I have a serious complaint to make.
And God will probably say...
"Oh! You mortals are all like this."