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     Volume 6 Issue 24 | June 22, 2007 |

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Syed Badrul Ahsan

Feeling bored with life is a perfectly natural thing. Anyone who does not get trapped in boredom at times is really not enjoying life, not being part of it as it were. There are times when everything appears tedious and we let out a big, longish yawn to register our indifference to everything that goes on around us. Take this small matter of what has been going on in the world of our politics. People have literally fallen over one another to talk about it in so much detail that they really have nothing new to say on the subject. The newspapers, any one of which you may come across, are full of identical analyses on what ought to be done to push the country on to the road to democracy and development. You have heard it all before. And so you turn the page even as you stifle a yawn which threatens to mar the remains of your morning.

By far the most pointed instances of boredom come in when you stumble into people trying to impress you with clichés you could do without. Have you noticed how, in quite some imitation of Americans vis-à-vis the use of the term 9/11, a lot of people in Bangladesh have begun talking of 1/11 every time they decide to sprinkle some of their wisdom on our unsuspecting world? What is wrong with talking about 11 January instead of doing what the Americans always do? It often gets to be so irritating that every time you hear murmurs about 1/11, you cannot but tell yourself, 'Uh oh, there he goes again!' And when you do that, you are actually letting yourself and people around you know how bored you are getting to be. Supreme boredom insinuates its way into your consciousness when you find yourself immobile in the presence of speakers who refuse to let go of the microphones before them. Speeches that come from the lips of unimaginative men can be stultifying. And when they are lengthened beyond measure, they turn into something positively murderous. That is when boredom takes on newer meanings in you. You wonder what you are doing there in that mediocre presence. As you make ready to leave, you realise you are too tired and too listless to raise yourself from that chair. Boredom has truly got you in its grip.

There are bores who endlessly make an entry, often lateral, into our lives. You cannot divest your life of them, for they are a ubiquitous lot. They introduce themselves as misters or as doctors or as colonels or something of the kind. It is not for you to let them know that those professional titles are an acquired qualification that has no bearing on their names. You expect them to correct their mistake at some point. Well, they do not. You are then too bored to enlighten them on the subject yourself. And then there are the writers, some of whom can truly be an extremely upsetting lot. They send write-ups to newspapers and take it for granted that they will be printed. If that is ambition, fine. But it is not. What you have coming into the whole exercise is a degree of pretension that soon convinces you that you do not have to take such people seriously. That may sound snobbish, but don't you think snobbery is often necessary as a defence mechanism against people who have no qualms about being pesky?

We get bored, and for good reason, when we bump into music that is not music. For those of us who have grown into middle age with a tradition of rich lyrics behind us, it is extremely disconcerting listening to songs that have few words, little emotion and too much of loudness which again amounts to what can only be insignificant and tawdry. It is much the same with books the world over. Boredom is what follows the news that writers are fast turning into celebrities. A writer ought to inhabit a world of splendid isolation, not bask in filmland-like glory. That is how ideas sprout. And of course you love J.K. Rowling. But when her books are being read by your friends -- and they are all in their fifties -- you wonder whether you are behind the times or those friends are slipping back not just to childhood but to pure childishness as well. Everyone talks of Shahrukh Khan replacing Amitabh Bachchan on a television show. That, as you know only too well, is the fashion these days. You are not impressed. You look out the window as you sense a fresh new yawn about to twist your face, for a few minutes, out of recognition. A yawn can sometimes be a beautiful thing, especially in an alluring woman. Most times, though, it is an ugly little affair. But then, it is hugely emblematic of boredom, sometimes rivetingly so.

Being bored is sometimes the spur one needs to get on with life, to give it a rude shake. Boredom has in it the quality of preventing predictability from taking control. Exercised at an intense level, boredom can easily tip over into depression. And out of depression, as history keeps telling us, profound creativity can stir into life and leave you making marks on the sand.


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