The Sunday nights constellate terrifying nightmares --- I see a train that suddenly changes itself into a rickshaw rolling without a puller as I try to catch up with it and then overtake it, but I cannot keep up my pace. I stumble and it stalls, I feel it sneers at me and challenges me to catch it if I can. The race resumes. Like all terrifying nightmares, its power to haunt originates from the fact that I know it is not for real and yet its terror is very real. Very, very substantial.
Such is the terror of Monday. Monday is the ultimate revenge upon Friday in the case of the more fortunate ones and upon Saturday in the case of those condemned to do a six-day drudgery week after week. The arrivals of the weekends are slow, and agonizingly, exasperatingly so, as if those are the answers to our prolonged waiting. Time literally drags. And Mondays arrive with the frightening finality and deadly inevitability. You cannot wish your Monday away - it will catch you napping or fuming or fretting or wincing or grimacing or whatever you might be engaged in. Let me add another, Monday beats to the inexorable ticking of a doomsday clock.
The problem is that Monday has a sinister knack for spoiling Sunday as well. Monday blues hits the heart hard right after his fitful Sunday siesta ebbs away. It begins to sore when one starts receiving bizarre signs, inscrutable sensations, and absentmindedness is just one of them. Limbs feel limp, vision blurred, knees weak and irritability becomes manifest. Come evening and irritability turns into listlessness and almost a cynical indifference to the world around. Dinner is just a ritual followed by incessant tossing and turning in bed tormented and gnawed by the nightmares. Around 3 AM when bed-wetting kids refuse to honor the call of nature and turn beds into an over-flowing pool when some demented rooster oblivious of the time crows; when the dogs bark from a great distance ( Saul Bellow in 'Dean's December' says that dog's barking is the protest of the dog against limits of dog's experience. 'For God's sake,' the dog is saying, 'Open the universe a little more.') we become aware of the arrival of Monday.
Monday is about abandoning the pretence of the independence of human existence. It is about cringingly and slavishly accepting the wisdom of Rousseau that man is born free but everywhere he is in chains; that ceaseless struggles to free mankind from the fetters of bondage have come to a cropper. "But for what purpose was the world formed", asks Candide in Voltaire's eponymous book. Replies Martin, “To drive us mad."
Monday signifies that life is not a playfield but a battlefield and on this battlefield, one has to fight- in fact, one must fight- against everybody and if needed, against oneself. Monday takes us to a point where its inevitability replaces everything else; where some higher god of the world decides what is to be done and not done; that this is your restricted space; and these are my ideas and you better mortgage your life for these ideas. If one is part of some bureaucracy that thrives on a deeply-embedded sense of hierarchy, everyone has a boss who comes out with hare-brained ideas and puts targets on the table which are unachievable and which have remained unachieved since 1947, or perhaps since the first cell was divided into two.
In a government office, the Boss seems to arrive in the office with a sense of purpose and holds agenda-setting meetings for the week on Monday forenoon. He asks for renewed vigour and renewed commitment. His subordinates stare at him with reinforced cynicism and wonder how- after all the failures- he has managed to maintain his renewed vigour. Does he have access to some Weberian Viagra that his subordinates are not privy to or have no access to?
In one private sector corner office, some nerdy Boss who studied engineering but joined an FMCG behemoth - talks aggressively about exceeding expectations in a cut-throat market where dog eats dog. In a newsmagazine office, Editor-in-chief harries, harasses, and harangues his subordinates for some earth-shattering ideas. The essential point is: why do Monday and madness go together?
Monday pits instinct against design, spontaneity against deliberation, beauty against regimentation, creative chaos against mechanical predictability, and life against death.
So it is back to small people clinging to small jobs and persistently striving for bigger ones; back to where the machine takes over and we submit to its ruthless juggernaut; back to desperate helplessness, hopelessness and soullessness; where one dies every moment without actually dying-something that is worse than death; back to where we submit our impulses to some kind of programmed rationality.
It is the dread of mundane where life goes into a predictable rut that makes Monday petrifying. It represents the defeat of everything that is human about us and signals the triumph of everything that makes us a little less human and a little more robotic.
Monday triggers slavery; Tuesday reinforces it; Wednesday turns it into a habit; Thursday cements it and Friday fortifies it; Friday also relaxes it a bit and Saturday marks the ephemeral triumph of the human spirit over obstinacy of dictated existence.
But don't forget the nightmares of Sunday and the revenge of Monday.
(Sanjay Kumar is based in Patna, Bihar.)