Life in Postmodern Cities


The reality of the modern urban life for few (I had used “many” in the original sentence) migrants and exiles of various varieties has one common factor: an acute sense of alienation that originates from the severed roots that dangle behind their wounded psyche wherever they go. The intended invocation is of the image of a wounded animal, say, a dog, in possession of half a limb or tail – dragging it, leaving a trail of soil-blood behind. Risking absurdity, or anthropomorphic fallacy, I tend to liken the emotional and mental state of the dog separated from a part of his body to that of the person separated from the place called home. They may be a minority, such persons, but they are not extinct.

Coming out of their displaced place of dwelling, such a person is made aware of a discontinuity: the discontinuity of the three dimensions. He finds out that his dreams take place at the place he calls home, and his waking life at the place he stays at. No, he can’t call it home, for he knows that the fundamental temporariness of his dwelling disqualifies it from becoming home. It does not have the power to shock him as he has lost all kinds of voluntary sensation responding to the break of continuities in space-time. Alienation has entered his hemoglobin molecules, replacing all iron atoms (a hyperbolic metaphor, not to be taken literally/scientifically).

While he was there, in his home space-time capsule, he wasn’t even aware of his roots, or the ground they had gone deep into to draw life-force from. Once the roots are severed, he becomes physically aware of the relationship between a man and his place. Life is redefined, paradigms shifted. He becomes schizophrenic – living two lives- the internal life threatening to erupt to the visible surface at any given moment, sans any prior intimation, warning or approval. The reassuring landmarks are all gone when he looks around. All that he can see is a series of signs that signify nothing to him. They aren’t his signs, although, in a universal script that he does not wish to read. Wish is central here, for mental is to physical is as all is to few. He semi-sleepwalks through his waking life and sleeps like a log. But later, When the mind is not fully awake, neither is it fully asleep, he dreams- during the day with hazily focussed open eyes, or at night with a sense of inadequacy that his quest for completion brought him to.

He is a man of no home. The roots that he once had won’t re-grow. They reject the soil on which they are being transplanted. Neither can he go back to his old life. No Sir, for he has been the scriptor of his own tragedy. How ironical! He knows how he can be happy. He also knows that it shall never be. Impractical solutions aren’t applied on the practical world, as mental is to emotional is as few is to all, yet mental takes precedence over both the physical and emotional in most of the cases of the worldly success.

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