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Contrary to what many people may believe – and let it be noted that this statement comes at the cost of sounding presumptuous, something we are all already guilty of – death is not the ultimate tragedy. Maybe there was a grain of truth in what Rowling said; that death is “but the next great adventure.” But that’s for the well organised minds, something many of us sadly don’t possess.

But we aren’t going to analyse what Rowling had meant by talking about death in the Philosopher’s Stone; nor are we going to debate why death should, or should not, be feared.

What the greatest tragedy is… is turning into the kind of person you never wished to become. The kind of person you, for all your childhood and adolescent and maybe even the early years of your adulthood, have resented. We are all stupid in our teens to think the world will let us be who we want to be; that it will make way for us to walk the path to our destinies. After all, why shouldn’t it?

You will eventually turn into that very same person. And here’s the tricky part; no one will grab you by your shoulders and throw you into that mould. You, and you yourself, will do it. Maybe you’ll be aware as this transformation is happening; or maybe that cloud of worries that always looms above your head as an adult will mercifully keep you in the dark. But there will come a time when you’ll wake up and see yourself in the mirror, and identify that change hiding between the wrinkles on your face, among the greys in your hair. It will be the weight that has caused the slight slump of your shoulders, the vacuum that has sucked out the zest you once held.

And you’ll start to hate yourself for the person you’ve become, the same person from whom you at one point of time had wanted to be as far as possible. It will frustrate you, at least to begin with. Especially if you were unwitting to this change as you allowed it to happen… then it will hit you in the face like an incredible gust of wind that knocks you down. From there, you can either choose to accept it, which will mean two things at the same time; that you can live a peaceful life going forward but also that you laid your arms, and with it yourself, in doing so. But, if you wish to fight, you get to tell yourself at the end of it all that you stayed true to yourself; it was a painful, frustratingly agonising journey, but you didn’t let it push you down.

Remember what Lazlo Bane sang in I’m No Superman (which you may remember from Scrubs), You’ve crossed the finish line, won the race but lost your mind. Was it worth it, after all?

Perhaps we have dillydallied quite a bit.

The center of focus of this episode, and the person in the midst of these thoughts, is Bandem. Throughout his childhood, he harboured what we can call a sense of dislike towards The Tyrant; who you may recall from some of the earlier episodes of our documentary.

The Tyrant was named so – by the boys in the club – because of who he was; a self-righteous, cynical man who always wore what Anpag called a worry-groove on his forehead. Who, as a patriarch of the highest order with a strict moral compass, the needle of which would always be conveniently tilted in his favour, led his family with an iron fist. The kind of man who Anpag admired.

The man Bandem, for the entirety of his adolescence, had resented.

And the beatings, the regular cussing, the constant belittling – all of which were essential constituents of the brand of parenting the Tyrant swore by – weren’t the only causes for this resentment.

If you asked Bandem whether he loved his father, the kid would answer it in the affirmative. Unequivocally so. If you asked him whether he thought The Tyrant was “the best dad ever,” his response would be optimistically positive. If you asked him who his role model was, and who he would like to see himself grow up to be, he would reply by saying “Is that even a question?”

But the actual answer weren’t the ones he expressed verbally to other people. Or even in the speech he had to give at The Tyrant’s 40th birthday, which he understandably didn’t want to give but was coaxed into by his mother. “Maybe you should say how you hope to become a father just like him one day,” Mrs. Asra had said.

The answer here was shelved in that little corner he never let others see. Even Sarah, his sister (who he’d called his best friend in the speech at The Tyrant’s 40th), wasn’t aware of it.

We don’t know what Ms. Asra truly felt about her husband. She did love him, of course she did. But whether she developed a similar shade of resentment over the years of living with him is something we are not going to talk about. Each marriage has its secrets, and no one outside the sacred relationship should ever think they are in a position to pass judgements about it.


But herein lies a paradox. We may have painted The Tyrant as a ruthless dictator, an antagonist in this tale. One who was selfish, deeply conceited, and used morality as an excuse to oppress those around him.

But when you grew up with a man (The Tyrant’s father) who gave away the trust fund he and his wife had built for fifteen years to a charity organisation, only so he could have his name in the papers, would you not reconsider? When The Charitable Squanderer, which I think as a name would fit well for Bandem’s grandfather, would have his son’s savings of more than a decade withdrawn and given away to a non-profit (which eventually up and left, no surprises there), would you still feel a lack of sympathy for the little boy who grew up to become The Tyrant?

Just like Bandem, The Tyrant all through his upbringing wanted to be as different from his father as he could. The one who not just understood the value of but could also exercise control and discipline. Not just in his own life but others, more notably his family, as well. Luck played its part in helping the Tyrant. After The Charitable Squanderer decided to leave work at 43 and sit home and, in his words, “concentrate on his life,” The Tyrant, then 18, had to take onto himself to take charge of the family. And, without any reluctance or grievance, he did. Was glad, as a matter of fact; for now he, as the principal decision maker, had the authority he had always yearned for.

The era of Tyranny had finally begun. He made money through his work, and made tonnes of it. Gave the tiniest fraction of it each month to his father, who gave it all away to some bogus non profit he would read or hear about (still chasing the renown). The Tyrant knew about it, but didn’t care much. What he gave his father was like a drop in the ocean; besides, he didn’t want word to get around that he was depriving his parents. The line of work he was in, connections mattered more than anything. And what facilitated these connections was his good name.

It is debatable to say whether The Tyrant lived the rest of his life in the comfort of knowing he didn’t grow up to become like his father. In that was his arrogance to admit the truth. Because after he was left alone following his wife’s death, with Bandem having moved away, he spent a lot of time with himself confronting realities he was too proud to admit until now. And these realities, which we will not be getting into because they deserve a separate episode (and something we may or may not circle back to later), told The Tyrant the similarities he shared with The Charitable Squanderer went much deeper than their genetic makeup.  

Bandem, more perceptible than his father, did start to recognise at the turn of the fourth decade of his life the close similarities he shared with his father; whether these similarities had already been there or were developed recently, Bandem couldn’t say for sure. But after a string of jobs none of which he could keep for more than a year, the knowledge that the woman he was in a live in relationship with was secretly seeing someone else, and the deep loneliness (not to be confused with isolation) that he was beginning to feel as years went by, he realised he had become a bitter, grouchy, perhaps even insufferable man.

All his life Bandem had thought the control The Tyrant exerted was a façade; a way of compensating the insecurities he, The Tyrant, housed within himself. And all his life Bandem had tried to prove more to himself than anyone else that he, contrary to his father, did have control; that it wasn’t a misconception. But, now, finding himself desolate and sad, he felt differently. He felt… empathetic of his father. That acrimony which had influenced his thoughts about his father all his life had as if started to evaporate.

He hated himself over it. That he was letting what could only be a force of nature put him in the same mould from which his father was cast. Bandem had always yearned to be his own man, if not unlike then certainly not the same as his old man. He loathed this realisation, and he spent many a night unable to sleep.

In a few years down the line, his girlfriend would admit she had been seeing someone else since a long time; and would do so with a long justification for her actions. Bandem wouldn’t care, he was just glad he didn’t have to pretend he secretly knew about it anymore. Another year later, she would leave him and move in with the other guy. During this time, Bandem had tried to set up a business of his own, sourcing hard-to-find magazines and selling them at a store he had leased, but of course that failed too.

Only adding to his embitterment.

Making him the person he never thought he would become.

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