regular-article-logo Tuesday, 28 May 2024

Oblivion is bliss

GINGERLY YOURS | Fear of Finding Out (FOFO) can be about everything — an immersive, crushing experience

Chandrima S. Bhattacharya Published 30.12.22, 04:29 AM
 I have intense FOFO about what is inside Elon Musk’s head.

I have intense FOFO about what is inside Elon Musk’s head. File Photo

You may suffer from Fear Of Missing Out, or FOMO. I suffer from Fear Of Finding Out, or FOFO.

“If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence,” says George Eliot in Middlemarch. But even with my blinkered vision and inadequate feelings, I can see things that make me suffer severe attacks of FOFO. I do not want to stir the bottom of the soup. I will see something there that I do not want to see. It is my special sense of the inevitable, honed by a year that has been excruciatingly heavy in its passing.


FOFO can be about everything — an immersive, crushing experience. For example, I do not want to know the contents my teenage daughter’s playlist. Or what lies within her wardrobe. Or her schoolbag, from which I think I saw a rat escaping the other day. The bag is rich in history, being the resting place of many years of uneaten ‘tiffin’.

Some insides affect our lives. I have intense FOFO about what is inside Elon Musk’s head. Or Putin’s. The thought of the inside of Trump’s head is as paralysing, but somehow I expect a different colour scheme in there. The outside, as we all know, is burnt orange. I am terrified of finding out what is going on inside the heads of those who rule my country. I have a feeling all our Aadhaar numbers may be inscribed in them, in glow sign. I have great FOFO about the prime minister praising street cricket matches played in Karnataka with Sanskrit commentary in the background.

I have FOFO about the current status of the National Register of Citizens. I have similar FOFO about the status of my gall bladder. I have FOFO about how many calories there are in the waffle I just ordered at midnight. I have more FOFO about why I ordered that waffle at midnight, knowing it would be ghastly, and then, when it turned out to be ghastly, wolfed it down? The answer would trigger an extremely Proustian rush of memories, as long and as tortuous, but especially painful because even I am not interested in them.

I have FOFO about never getting a decent pair of jeans again: everything is low waist and skinny fit. The world is horribly young.

I have FOFO about what exactly goes into the chicken kebab and the chicken roll at my friendly neighbourhood roll stall. They sustain me.

I have FOFO about how many more Bengali television serials will be based on the plotline: “Chowdhury barir bou howar jogyota tomar nei (You don’t have it in you to marry a man from the Chowdhury family).” I have deep FOFO how many more Nykaa hauls I will be watching on YouTube videos. I have FOFO about how many more million times I will be called ‘Mam’.

I have FOFO about my diminishing bank balance towards the end of the month, inversely proportional to what I spend with increasing recklessness. I have FOFO that all the flowers at the wedding venue I passed are made of plastic, as are the leaves, and the little angels, who seem to have been rescued straight out of Hieronymus Bosch. This is Calcutta Grotesque at its best.

I have FOFO about what 2023 will bring.

But I survive.

The other day I heard a conversation at my favourite Udupi restaurant. “Things don’t look good, but we will cross the bridge when we come to it,” an elderly gentleman roared. He was corrected by another. “I will not do that. I Will Cross The Bridge When It Comes,” he declared triumphantly.

Which absolves me from even FO, Finding Out. So I will wait. I Will Cross The Bridge When It Comes. IWCTBWIC.

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