The nouveau riche

Kakai Singsit *

Tucked inside my dingy little room away from the world outside and there was darkness smothering all around. It seems this darkness was my lone companion that never stops squinting hard at me. Burnt out with fatigue I reclined to my creaky chair when this train of thought invaded my mind.

Hard done by the vicissitudes of life, the callousness of man towards their own kind and the depravity that has engulfed our society- I cringed !

I am just a laity among the sea of humanity whose cut-throat race brought only misery and further misery for the poor whereas the hey days of the affluent and corrupted have reached the pinnacle by devouring and sucking the bloods of their unfortunate counterparts, the poor. It seems the poor will never be able to unshackle themselves from this vicious circle.

As I watch all these unhappy developments appalled but there was nothing I could do for I am equally helpless and emasculated by these evil forces whose tentacles are too strong and profound. Therefore I decided to remain a helpless spectator but lampooned them through my pen.

Though mired in poverty and utter helplessness but the yearning to live an opulent life in the future never cease. So many a times the thought of joining one militant group was tempting. If being a self-styled leader is the antidote to poverty- why not !

Life could have been much easier with the concomitant rewards of flamboyant lifestyle, plush mansions, top-end cars, beautiphun atonbis, why not ! The thought of keeping all elected MLAs, MDCs at oneís finger tip and grabbing somebodyís contract work and making lucrative profit was appealing but I did not let this reverie overwhelm me.

But being poor and leading a life of privation in this dog-eat-dog world is agonizing when you became an object of ridicule despite your academic erudition whereas sons of the rich and unscrupulous enjoy all the respect however stupid or moronic they might be.

Itís puzzling that society has regressively reduced itself to the status of sycophants, hypocrites, hangers-on, ready to kowtow to the whims and wishes of the richer sections. But, I refused to be at oneís beck and call.

Sometimes I wonder why people guffaw at the jokes cracked by unscrupulous rich though it contains no iota of humour. But we laugh hard to the point of convulsion as if it was the funniest quips or jokes ever told. Sycophants !

For poor people like us life is a veritable hell and it only gets worse day by day with no respite in sight. So where should we draw our solace from and with what? God and spirituality become meaningless when you are driven to the point of starvation. Now one starts wondering whether obtaining vicarious joy from spirituality finds any meaning when you barely make both ends meet.

Sometimes my eccentric mind is convinced that heaven is made for the corrupt rich with little space for the poor. I shudder again. And I donít want to be in that kind of heaven rife with the most sadistic people but better be in hell with my poor counterparts.

The fad among our nouveau riche is earn as much as you can during your prime days by hook or by crook and be super rich. With all that ill-gotten money, lead an opulent lifestyle, drink exotic wine, consort with ravishing girls, have secret arm-candies and be charitable in dribs and drabs.

And now that youíre a spent-force embrace Jesus Christ as your personal saviour, disavow the worldly ways, and support missionaries with your corrupted earnings to score some brownie points with the ignorant masses. Hypocrites !

The unfortunate poor have been sucked dry to the marrow and left alone to fend for themselves to the mercy of nature and these evil forces. But halcyon days are a mirage or should I say a cry in the wilderness that is never coming. For, we were born in poverty, shackled in poverty and we will die in poverty. So we work hard to the sweat of our brows and drink our pains away by drawing our comfort from its befuddling punch. So, Auntieís tavern had become our favourite rendezvous and lurching home we snored in peace.

In one of our evening sojourn as we began imbibing a modest IMFL there was a soft tap on my back. It was an old chum of mine who had disappeared for many years. He was alone so we beckoned him to our table. The sheen of his dress demonstrates that it was expensive and that he had a rollicking life.

He enquired what brand we were enjoying. Old Monk, we whispered in chorus. He was amazed at our cheap choice and berated us to no end. Un-amused I retorted that we were drinking as per the dictate of our pocket.

Be sportive dude, I was just pulling your legs, he countered and ordered the bartender to bring vintage scotch to which the bartender shook his head in helplessness. It was finally settled for a Johnnie Walker.

He spoke pidgin English laced with Thadou whose concoction was so much delightful to the ear and for most of the binge he used the larger part of his discourses in flawless English. His uninhibited proficiency left me green with envy as his cadence was simply mellifluous. As we caroused on my two friends who remained mute till then, broke their inhibitions and started speaking in quaint Angreji. And lo! it became an English party.

We became more jollier as night smothered into our table and the combination of the cold wind from the North with the punch of that exquisite brand, peerless in taste and texture thus whetting our appetite to order more. And our voices that was barely audible became more and more raucous and our English improving with every minute passing.

It was almost nine and we were already frantically drifting between dream and hallucination thatís when we decided to call it a night, all for the relentless nagging of the bar owner. I guess we had frittered away around five hours. The bill- a whopping 30 K almost made me faint. But my friend paid it without batting an eyelid.

As it was agreed to visit his girl-friend we hit the road straight to her home. It was pitched dark and the streets were desolated as we rolled towards kangpokpi in his brand-new Creta car. After 20 minutes break-neck drive we screeched to a halt. Pushing ourselves inside I made haste to one of the imaginary chair in the corner and collapsed. I tried to pull myself up but was totally enervated.

I was not sure where I slept or how I got there as the house was strange to me when I woke up. Turning around I realised that I had slept on the sofa of the living room. My friendís duck-diamond who was ravishingly beautiful brought coffee and was giggling at me menacingly.

I thought it was strange. My friend slaps me on the back and announced that i did not wake up from my fall and had to be hauled over the sofa. And that, I was snoring like a rattling train and had given the family a hard time sleeping.

Being inquisitive I bombarded him with all the Whos, the whys, the hows and the wheres pertaining to his girl-friend. It transpired that she was a graduate from Delhi University and was working there. She was beautiful, educated, refined and well off. I was green with envy.

But the mystery remains what was my friend exactly doing which I implicitly came to realise that he was a leader of one hush-hush organisation. And for an educated girl who had done her degree in one of the finest Universities of India falling to the pitfalls of money and worldly luxury, I guess Karl Marx was right when he posited, ďthe world is the oyster of the materialists.Ē

Addendum- This fictional contrivance is written in the form of allegory and is regretted if it has resemblance with any person living.

* Kakai Singsit wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on October 27 2021.

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