a short story by
MAHARNAV BHUYAN | Journalist + Writer
“Loser” is not a story, but a perception. “Loser” is set in an Indian society where a man named Naveen finds and accepts his negative identity in a very positive light, amidst philosophical and social judgments which are being imposed on him.
Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov
NAVEEN THOUGHT he was a loser. That’s how he perceived himself; but he often took a weird pleasure in it. He lived by the notion that the universe is fragile, and for life to exist, balance is requisite. He thought losers were very necessary for winners to inspire themselves to not be losers. He perceived himself as a loser, but he knew that the world perceived him as an evident standard for comparison and self-motivation.
He was young when teachers and relatives started to mark him as the epitome for comparison of degradation.
“Study more, Rupa; you don’t want to be like your brother do you? Dumb and useless,” said Naveen’s father to his younger sister.
“We already have one Naveen; we don’t want any more in this class. Is that understood!?” said the class teacher.
“Son; look at your marks! Its worst than even Naveen probably. What the hell is wrong with you?” said Naveen’s alcoholic uncle, contemplating on his son’s results.
Naveen witnessed every insult as a inherent compliment, and himself beyond comparison since he was the “measure” himself. An intimate identity he enjoyed; a glimpse of the reverse superiority he carried.
Naveen was a born loser, and his dogma was his acceptance. He fell in love a lot too, at least one woman for a month or two. He would think of her every night before he sleep, would imagine conversations that never happened, would cry to the pillow, would pluck flowers that he would never give, and would be obsessed over her until he felt bored or distressed, but he always had an intuition that some other time they would meet, and then it will work out with the utmost passion, since, unlike others, he cannot be forgotten, as he is the loser.
Unlike most of the winners; Naveen had the rare skill of being very calm at the oddest of moments. He could walk past a thousand people laughing at him without feeling or hearing anything, but his voice in his head. He always appreciated himself on how calm he was compared to others. He didn’t have many friends; maybe he didn’t have any. He used to do a lot of gardening, some people said he was a gardener, but he never gardened for anyone else. He was his own gardener, just like he was his own companion. Naveen’s father asked him to leave his house when he was 34 years old. He gave Naveen some money and pleaded him to never return. Naveen, as calm as ever, left after a long, hot shower, with all the biscuits and sweets.
He took a bus to a village he never heard of, but slept all the way to the last stop, some 800 kilometres away from home.
But as little as he cared about his life; he cared about his destination, so whatever place he was dropped at he decided to live his life there. He built a house that looked like a tent, and set up a tea stall. There were few people, so he made little tea. At first, he was happy and at peace, but then, with time, he became displeased. He lost his pride, his propensity. No longer was he the lone loser, as all seemed just like him.
But he knew now, and could explain to himself, how sad it must be for everyone he knew who was a common man; no wonder they were agitated and disappointed all the time, and really needed someone with whom to compare for them to feel better about themselves. Naveen felt that his life was indeed worthwhile, and thought of how important he was for the balance of the universe.
So, the next morning, he took another bus back to where he was supposed be the loser.
Journalist + Writer
Maharnav Bhuyan. Who am I? I am not who you perceive to be me. Who I am is who I imagine myself to be. Who I imagine myself to be is fraction of persona that don’t belong to me. They belong to people I knew, people I couldn’t be. I am snippets of who I envy and who inspire me. It is limitless, yet futile to contemplate who I am and who I can be. Yet, despite how deeply I try to project myself; you can meet me only as deeply as you have met yourself.
Enjoy more of Maharnav’s work at ardourthought.wordpress.com.