Poor People And Delusion

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 AMNov (Friends, Literature, Music, Musings, Poetry, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

Two weeks after I joined my first job, there was a farewell for an employee who was working in that organization earlier. In her farewell speech she said “Once I leave there will be a lot of problems here which you all will have to handle…..”

Recently a very good friend of mine was telling me about the head of their organization who told me “I would have resigned and gone home to take rest. But, if I go, there will be crisis here”


Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the celebrated novelist of Crime and Punishment fame, entered the world of literature with his uniquely structured novel Poor People also known as Poor Folks.

The story of Poor People, which unfolds through the letters written by Makar and Varvara to each other, speaks about the delusion where one feels that without him or her the world of the other would collapse, the importance one assumes in others lives.

Anna Fyodorovna, a relative of Varvara, who shelters Varvara and her mother believes that if not for her, the lives of Varvara and her mother would have been extremely miserable and if it’s not so, it’s because of her.

Even Makar and Varvara, at the end of the novel tell each other: “Who will take care of you in my absence?” “What will happen to you in my absence?” which again is a delusion which makes them assume that they are a necessity in the lives of the other, like Anna feels.


All of us, at one point or the other, or more than once, tend to believe that we, as individuals, are of great importance, for the functioning of another person or an organization or institution.

It is this self-love, which at times, makes us work beyond our measure for the other person or organization, like how Makar goes out of his way to help Varvara, believing that if not for him she will come on the streets. But this belief is nothing but a delusion.

Life nowhere waits for us nor does anything stops or gets delayed if not for us. It keeps moving in its own orbit and keeps flowing.


In one of his articles- ‘Mattella Araamu Taane?’ (Shabda Teera; Pg: 68; Pub: Ankita Prakashana) Jayanth Kaikini shares an incident of his days when he was working in a factory. It was a night-shift and a colleague of Jayanth sir received a call from his home. The call was to inform him about the death of his father, listening to which the friend replied saying “I can’t leave immediately. I must wait for the reliever to come and moreover there is no bus of train available now. So I will leave in the morning. You make all the arrangements for the funeral by then” and before dropping the phone he questioned “Everything else is fine? Isn’t it?”

The concluding question throws light on the aspect I am trying to focus. Even at the time of his father’s death, Jayanth Sir’s friend/colleague is aware of ‘everything else’ which is still breathing and which has a life ahead, which is in present continuous and not in the past tense, which is not going to stop because of his father’s death.

The novel Poor People ends when Varvara and Makar depart after Varvara’s wedding with Bykov. But the story doesn’t end over there, though the novel does, even if Varvara and Makar believing that the other can’t exist without him or her, which makes both of them, ask each other “What will happen to you in my absence? Who will take care of you in my absence?”

Both continue to lead their lives in the absence of the other (though it’s not a part of the novel), without the support of the other, like Varvara continued to live even after she moved out from Anna, who believed that if not for her Varavara and her mother wouldn’t lead a decent life.


Sunil Sir in has a writing on Kavitha Sashidharan in his blog, where he says how wonderful it was to work with Kavitha for the CCC (Cultural Co-ordination Committee) the previous year and how much he misses her now. The recollection of the previous year and the feeling of Kavitha’s absence, by Sir end when he says “I need to leave now for I have a CCC meeting to attend”



Ghalib-E-Khasta Ke Bagair Kaun Se Kaam Band Hai
Royiye Zaar Zaar Kya Keejiye Haaye Haaye Kyun?

(What has stopped in the absence of ‘Ghalib’?
Why shed tears and why mourn for him?)

08 August 2008

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