MIDWAY: Making choices

Each one of us goes through the excruciating problem of making choices in life. Are these the inevitable paths we are destined to tread? The greatest joke about choices is that most of us believe that we have the luxury of making choices. But look closer and life reveals its true existential colours. It took a Shakespeare to tell us (Hamlet — To be or not to be is the question) that man is not free to choose but is a prisoner of choice.

Did we choose to be born? Did we have a choice of parents, family, siblings, religion, nationality, or the age we were born in? That’s life’s most profound truth. Choices are nothing but optical illusions or sops that God offers us to relieve us of life’s claustrophobia.

From a menu in a restaurant you choose a chocolate sundae. You know exactly the dress you are going to wear on your birthday party or that beautiful necklace you are going to present to your mom on her golden anniversary. But when it comes to the crunch, there are no choices. Without much fuss you have to take the road you may have been resisting all along.

Succinctly explained is Muir’s law: When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. We function within a pre-determined framework. There is no question of exercising free will. What we choose will be what we have to. Nothing could be truer for a Nepali woman whose life is conditioned by the vicissitudes of her family. Look at your mother and the women of her times. Do you think they had a choice about careers, marriage or when to start a family?

Choices are compromises made to avoid pain. Pain and anguish are an inevitable part of the baggage a Nepali woman carries while making choices. One may talk of those women who do unconventional things. For instance, X could have rebelled.

Those who rebel do so because that was expected of them. But we have to desist from the cynical viewpoint. We might be tempted to inaction, waiting for destiny, fate and luck to take its course.

But we have to choose what we think will be right for us. We can opt for the least offensive alternative. Therefore, when you reach such crossroads, choose wisely and rightly.