Meeting Meursault

Back to back hectic weeks of work, unending pitches and other trivial things later, there is finally some space to breathe.  Saturdays and Sundays are precious and coveted, much like a cool breeze in hot Calcutta summers.

It’s been a while since I have read something exceptionally moving, my last few experiments with books have been nothing much to write about. ‘Persepolis’ by Satrapi was predictably good but nothing I wasn’t expecting, Ned Beauman’s ‘The Teleportation Accident’ was disappointing, insipid, and painfully tedious to complete. ‘Sputnik Sweetheart’ by Murakami and Vonnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse 5’ were pleasurable to read, almost wanted to kick myself for not reading Vonnegut before in college.

But the book that I really wanted to talk about is ‘The Stranger’.

Again, I have no idea why I did not read this book back in JU. It’s easily one of the best books I have read in a while. ‘The Stranger’ has moved me in more ways than one, it’s a kind of philosophy that every 25 year old needs to read about…the value of truth, the injustices of our so called civil society and the shackles it imposes on us. Actually, I am glad I didn’t read it when I was 20 or 21, sitting on the jheel, while smoking a cigarette and drinking tea, pretending like I’m the cat’s whiskers who knows what injustice actually is. I’m 25 now, I mostly never have time to sit by the jheel, I don’t smoke, only drink black coffee (mostly because I don’t have access to doodh cha in office) and I still don’t know injustice for what it really is.

But I know now that it is okay not to judge others, and it’s is okay if someone judges you because that is what most people are good at. The world is essentially made up of three types of people, the ones who belong, the ones who perpetually don’t, and the ones who are unoriginal enough to fall in between. Sadly for me, I’m the third kind. This is the worst kind to be. The ones who belong easily take to the ways of the world and the idiocy it perpetrates all around; the ‘outsiders’ are bold enough to be true, they are original and unique, not meant to be bogged down by the limitations of society; the third kind is merely pathetic…they are torn between being different and conforming, but mostly end up conforming and hating themselves for it.

Meursault is obviously the one who doesn’t conform, beautifully characterized by Camus who was also an outsider himself, I suppose. Something Meursault said just before he died is stuck in my head, ‘after a while you can get used to anything.’

Sometimes, I feel that way about life.


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