Wednesday, April 20, 2011


It takes courage to be a loser. For most of my life till now I did not need to develop this courage. I had fortune powerful enough to lead me into the delusion that I was immune from loss. Even though my marriage was a shambles, turning my personal life into a nightmare, I never felt the touch of loss. I was protected by stainless steel armour.

But loss comes to all. It came to me too. My armour lost its sheen, and loss found me. Half prepared and totally unprepared, I have now lived with loss for several years. It has changed me forever. I have become a loser.

The loss of naiveté is both comforting and disturbing. Being a loser makes one conscious of other losers. Makes one aware that losers are also human beings. I had worked with (and among) losers since my teens but till my armour was intact their lives did not really touch me. I remained an outsider. It is only when fate had decided that it was time to acquaint me with loss that I started getting affected by the people with whom my professional life intersected. At that time I thought this was the effect of a more intensive interaction. The truth was, of course, it was time for me to become a loser.

Materially speaking, and in almost all other senses, I remain a winner. My armour is still intact but it does not serve as a bubble any more. I, therefore, continue to have the luxury of contemplating loss, albeit with a greater familiarity. I wonder about those among us who seem to be permanent losers. How come? What did they do wrong? What makes the Aadivaasis losers? The Dalits, the poor, the Africans, the original inhabitants of the Americas, Australia and New Zealand; why have they been permanently scratched from the game of life?

What does it mean to be a loser? Are members of minorities anywhere/ everywhere losers? What about women? Are women, as a class, losers? More than the enormous extent of violence against them (that exists) it is the ever present possibility of violence that makes me empathise with their plight. What about black people? Browns? Yellows? And Reds? What about the whites?

Of course most white people are losers too: in their own land. But as soon as they step out of their homes into the big wide world (a.k.a. a third world country) they become winners. So, tourism serves not only to edify and titillate and entertain, it also serves to assuage and comfort egos, and sustain the illusion of winning for a whole lot of losers.

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