‘Intellectual’. No sooner do I hear this compliment, than I am tempted to ask the benefactor: Oh? You mean boring? Mostly because I believe intellectualism is useless to the core. Two, because I really don’t give a damn if a few intelligent guys think I am intellectual, none of them would marry me for that reason.
I have never pursued intellectualism consciously. Honestly I have no idea what it is all about really. Very few times I have used this compliment on men and women, more out of respecting them than really meaning the word. So when people throw the word at me as a compliment, I feel like I am accused of a crime. What benefit have intellectuals done to our world anyway? Human rights for homicide culprits remember? Or PETA activists who walk nude on streets. Or our current Prime Minister!
Of course I am much of a utilitarian when it comes to abstract terms and entities when by definition itself they are meant to be ‘theoretical’ and not pragmatic. There’s much fun in trying to find logic when there’s none or seeking some light when there’s not a slightest glimmer possible. And so finding a utility of intellectualism comes pretty natural.
The way I look at intellectualism is far from being intellectual. I believe if I just get the sophistication out of intellectualism, that would be an entirely my kind. The one that I see every day in a maid that serves me tea every morning at the institute. She is not much educated. But despite her second-hand designer saree all drenched in dust from moping the floor, when she stands with her vroom before me and greets me gently, she manages to teach me a lesson or two.
Humility is her strength. And I daresay it’s not out of lack of choice but the presence of it. A woman in her age, who has nothing much to lose (she has a house of her own that she has put on rent, her son and husband are working and she has got her own private bore well), would get haughty in her success in the context of her social status. Yet she manages to drape humility as naturally as she does her saree.
She does not need the enlightenment of a Marxist communism to strike a polite conversation with a fellow worker regardless of their social statures. She doesn’t need to know her constitutional rights as a citizen before she mopes the floor more diligently than she is supposed to. She doesn’t keep a record of how many times she wished me first or when I did.
Or there’s this amazing senior guy who sits at the proverbial Vahuman Café in Pune. You look around this place and you jump at the sheer stupidity of intellectualism. You feel like thanking God that the most fantastic, the most wonderful the most beautiful things are not the intellectual ones. They are often the silly ones. The ones that would otherwise be dismissed by the intellectual world.
A one-year old Augustus shouts out of some mad happiness inside him. He still doesn’t’ know what happiness is but he experiences it every day. You call him “crazy kid” yet are jealous of his happy gestures that he can afford.
Does intellectualism make me happy or sad? Does it change me in a better way? Do I prefer it over being silly? Hell no! And so I can’t help despising the people who call me intellectual because the word repels me. It sometimes strips me off my casual camaraderie. Other times, it steals the little goodness I have in me. A few times, it even takes away a warm smile I was about to throw on a stranger.
I prefer being silly, being reckless. This sets me free every time I choose to break the ice. It gives me so much of scope to reach out. It inspires me to keep loving despite the hurts. It just lets me be me.