The god of smallest things

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The god of smallest things
7 Sep, 2007, 0214 hrs IST, By Mukul Sharma /ECONOMIC TIMES

I write this as I lie almost totally incapacitated in bed with a virus infection that’s turned out to be so virulent that I have no choice but to marvel at the miracle of the infinitesimally small.

I’m continuously thinking of my own suffering here when actually millions of these creatures are either being created every second somewhere inside my body, or dying there without a trace of ambition. I don’t know these creatures.

They don’t know me either. The “me” that resides as my personality and is sometimes supposed to be unique in the grand scheme of things, makes absolutely no difference to them whatsoever. For some reason, apparently they have a job to do — just like a plumber, politician or rock drummer does.

Nor do I know my immune system. My white blood cells have a job to do too which they go about doing without a “by your leave” or permission granted by me — exactly as if I didn’t exist at all for all they cared. You sometimes think: are they concerned only about their own existence or what — a la the selfish gene? But then, luckily, I’m comforted by the thought that they don’t have the capacity to think along those lines.

In other words, I also have my work cut out for me. When I’m infected, I suffer and wait impatiently, and often unfairly, for parts of me to get rid of parts that were never intended to be me. Ultimately, I’m glad all three of us manage this exquisite ménage remarkably well.

Does this mean that at some deeper level our dependency and symbiotic relationship with one another has to be more than just an amazing feat of coincidence? Or is it perhaps merely evolutionary mechanics which has no “goal” as such but only thrives on each doing the best for itself?

So I’m thinking now, what if a virus could indeed think. In order to make some sense of a human body it incarnates in from time to time, it might well say to itself: “I came into this body-world to procreate and multiply, only to find forces of hostility and evil committed towards my destruction.

All odds are stacked against me. Yet what am I doing wrong here? Is there no fairness, or is this world only a mindless creation of chance encounters between atoms which have no regard for the fact that I exist as a thinking being who can question its impetus and inspiration? If there’s a God it definitely doesn’t reside in this little universe. Why would there be so much evil around otherwise? Maybe when I die, I go to a far, far better place than I’ve ever been before.”

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