Kartik Aggarwal



Kartik Aggarwal




8 mins

 "Do you complete all the tasks you take up in the stipulated time?"

Yes!' he wrote instantly. 'Of course, I do; I'm capable enough,' thinking he marched towards the next question of the self-analyzing attitude test which was a part of a motivational program that the company had come up with for its employees. It was the third such activity in the month- the new manager was obsessed with Organizational Behavior, it seemed! He scored well- 'your attitude is envious. Your confidence coupled with your optimism towards life makes you a go-getter. You are not one of those who complain; instead, you take up each task as a challenge and work for it with interest and passion. Keep up the great attitude'. 

He smiled faintly, kept aside the sheet of paper, and soon he was back to doing what he was engaged in since morning- Facebook! Hours of chatting followed while he studies his work in a parallel window. By the evening, he was bored with FB and was done with work, just in time of submission. He was an efficient man, he thought but motivated only by deadlines. What could he have possibly gained by completing it an hour earlier? Another job assignment? (In the corporate world we all know that the only reward for good work is more work) So what's the rush!

He really hoped that his new boss would make things different as he loathed his monotonous schedule and was yet to see a change he could be really happy about. 

"So how was the day?" called out his friend (also his car-pool partner.)

"Boring, as usual! What about yours?" the quick reply as they moved towards the parking area.

'The New Boss and His Erratic Ways' was the hot topic of discussion throughout the drive, yet again! "Enough dude, I'm amazed at your potential to crib" said his friend as they approached his home, "the poor guy is not a month old in his job and you have your opinions ready!"

"You are one very tolerant person, if you think otherwise," was his reply once he stepped out of the car.

His friend replied, "I wonder what your score was in today's attitude test! Goodbye. Your car tomorrow," and drove off.

He remembered it as his turn the next day but was clueless as to why his friend presumed he hadn't scored well in the attitude assessment test. The result hadn't surprised him at all.

He unlocked his apartment and switched on the lights. The lights did dispel the darkness but could do nothing to budge the air of despair which seemed to be his accomplice here. It was difficult to comment if the gloomy atmosphere competed or completed his dull and gloomy self. He looked around the messed up place and for a fraction of second, he had urged to clean it up; but it disappeared in the next fraction. He was so habitual of his unclean surroundings that it didn't seem to bother him much. Just when he picked up the phone to place the dinner order, it rang out. It was one of his friends. She inquired about dinner and was surprised to know that he preferred to order meals from outside rather than cook at home for the sole reason of avoiding some cleaning. He had been eating out for the past few weeks as he couldn't spare out the time to wash a little!

"You are one lazy ass; you should have washed the utensils the last time you used them! This is not how you are going to survive all by yourself dude! Having known you for so long, all I can advise is- try to empty the stack rather than adding new ones to the queue- finish off things you begin. Anyway, got to go and please take care. Bye," and she hung up.

He wasn't happy with the conversation at all. He didn't agree with any of what she had just said. He was angry over how she perceived him and dead sure that she had made a major error judging him. After all, he scored so well in the attitude test- that should be proof enough! But more than being angry, he was confused as to why she thought so. It'd been more than a year for him in this apartment and since then he'd been managing everything so efficiently. How she had challenged his responsible and independent survival was beyond his understanding. He was not the kind of guy who would indulge in thinking over trivial issues, yet this was something that refused to loosen its grip over his thoughts. He was hurt by her friend's opinion about him which was not actually required by the world seemed justified enough to him, yet he didn't like to be called lazy.

The daily alarm for the reminder to complete his article went off again and broke his train of thoughts. As he snoozes it out of habit, he realized it's been a month since he last contributed to that piece. Yet when the question 'Do you complete all the tasks you take up in the stipulated time?' had come up, he couldn't be surer of a 'Yes'! the questions on the attitude sheet now flashed in front of him and with a big blow, the high score suddenly made sense he liked to see himself as he wanted others to perceive him- almost perfect! He was living in a state where each and every action- even the most subtle ones like filling up an attitude test sheet- was governed by the presumptions of his supposed assessment by an audience. And the judging was no ordinary one; the jury comprised of those entire he admired and so the test was all the more difficult. The result was an altered perception of him to match the standards set, so much so that an introspective attitude test couldn't extract his real self from beneath those synthetic layers. As this epiphany engulfed him, he could see himself growing pale in the mirror. A drop of sweat trickled down his face. He was nervous but he had decided-today, he would not budge from finding the truth; adamant to know himself, today, he braved to continue.

He tried to dig deeper to find the level to which this awareness of the scrutinizing exteriors had infected his interiors. The deeper he went, the clearer the conclusion, though the journey was excruciating. It sent a chill through his spine when he realized that not only his actions but even some of his desires were haunted by hypocrisy- he remembered his wish of having a business of his own but he had never taken a step towards it. He was never motivated enough to do so. Why? Because that dream had taken shape from the society's definition of an independent successful man, the kinds he admired, and he had never dared to have his own definitions! And then a doubt stuck him. Was even his love for writing a merely external influence?

This was indigestible and left him aghast. Who was he? What was he? And the plethora answers came rushing to him at a speed difficult for him to comprehend. He was yet another society's caricatures. The society dictated its rules, applauded him when he obeyed them and disowned him if he dared to differ. The society had molded him so. But why is it that he'd become a psychological prisoner of their expectations? What was his motivation or the sole purpose of existence? He immediately related to the numerous blogs he had read relating to the depression and anxiety among the millennials and realized that he's not the only one gasping for breath in this predicament. He's no more eluded to it. But why are they depressed and not motivated towards life? We are just in our twenties. Warren Buffet, the greatest and wealthiest investor of our times procured most of his fortune after the age of 59. Why are we in a hurry? Most people are reticent about this fragile situation unless they want to make a mockery of themselves in society. Again the fear of society? This area of concern has always been obscure because everyone in some part of their life has witnessed a perpetual state of despondency when they just drag along rather than living. So it's better to be silent rather than dwell on your weakness. Maybe when we are born, we live our lives based on the creativity and uniqueness of our own thoughts. But somewhere down the line, we sell our souls, we change and lose ourselves only to be found by destiny when it's too late.

As the answers erupted from within him, a very strange thing happened.

He started evaporating he could see his outline blurring in the mirror. But even stranger: he felt no pain. Rather he was relieved because now he knew the answer- he was an embodiment of the desires and expectations of the world; his life was a platform for the world to practice its discretion. And to the same world he was giving away, so he felt no pain. All he experienced, as he saw himself fading in the mirror, was peace and the ultimate satisfaction of discovering himself. His lips curled to a smile in the celebration of his apocalypse. And surprisingly- he saw himself taking form again, his image in the mirror growing sharper. He knew why today nothing was hidden from him. He had realized that all this while he had just been an impression of other's emotions, expressions, and expectations. This realization was enough for him to break free from this impression, hence he was coming back; he was being himself again and not just physically this time.

It had been a day of revelations and by the end of it, there was a wise man standing in front of the mirror. He was living a moment of pure bliss and ecstasy, one that a person craves for his entire lifetime, tries a thousand different moves, dances a thousand different tunes, yet it remains unseen, because, as the wise man writes, "it can't be found with eyes open, but with eyes closed as it lies not outside, but within. It lies in the revelation of self!"

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