Once upon a time back in primary school, a teacher, Miss X, looked
her thick, heavy glasses and enunciated with confidence, "Know
thyself." We were all unruly urchins who took
the remark with offense, as
we were quite sure about our existence. Unfortunately, she was the one
and to bolster her statement to the point of absolute truth, she
supplied us with tons of reading material that proved
beyond uncertainty that
we were helpless creatures in this vast extant of the universe who can never
know anything for sure. Thus we
should be humble and nice; should
investigate and inquire with the idea of our extreme limitation on mind.
should also know ourselves, as knowing ourselves would expand our minds
to know the entire world.
"Yes, we should know ourselves," we wrote on our final exams. Our
made her happy, and we laughed behind her back. It was more than
a decade and half ago that we were proud to think that we had
successfully fooled her into believing that we
were brainwashed frail
creatures. Today, after so many years, as I walk through the labyrinth of the
corridor, somehow her statement echoes more acutely, and I find
myself writing an essay as a tribute to her truth.
Never before I came to MIT did I know that I know NOTHING about myself.
day I find myself standing infront of the mirror, asking "Who am I"?
I hear people retort to my statements about my past "but you cannot know;
what you say is not true; look, it is all
in the book!" I stop and I
reflect. Yes, Miss X was perhaps right. I can never know. I lost the right
speak for myself when I wrote that lie on my test.
Several years ago, I was sitting infront of a lady with an effusive
smile spread on her face to talk about some end of the term procedure.
I came out of the room more perplexed than
I had ever been. I had learnt a truth about myself. I had learnt
am a tormented, battered woman from the third world who cannot speak up. I
could not speak up that day,
true. I did not know what to say. How do I
ever explain myself to people who most probably have a supercomouter
calculates all my past activities by perhaps detecting my current brain
waves, and performing complex calculations
about how the waves propagated
through time. The set of equations must have contained quantum tunneling
ten dimensional strings, which are still beyond my knowledge, and
the parameters must have been accurate to the last known
decimal point of
pi. The same computer can also predict what path my future brainwaves
would take. It even has
a database of well-established facts! The famous
MIT database of facts knows all about the velocity of light, the
surplus of the world, and all the facts of my life - most of them outside the
scope my limited humble knowledge!
It was beyond my capacity to argue these
facts, obtained by the avante garde institution for technology in the most
So I came back home, and I thought of Miss X. "Yes, you certainly were right.
There is no end to knowing myself.
I will be nice, and I will absolutely try to know myself."
After my brief initiation into the group of people who happen to have
mutant chromosome, otherwise known as the second X chromosome,
which takes away all confidence, it was decided with utmost genorosity
that I may be given some confidence to survive. The disease was a genetic
disorder by experimental evidence - enforced by environmental factors, and a patient
should not even dare to
prescribe medicine to herself! Self prescribed
off-the-shelf medication is not only unlawful, but may even cause
hazards because of the person's ignorance. Thus was required a period of
confidence training. I sat
confused in sessions where people were
sympathising with me about my past that I had no memory of. My genes must
survived because they could cover up their deficiency by obliterating
the brain paths that contained painful memories.
The handsome physics major who lived a floor away from me,
to save the world, called me up EVERY Saturday morning. He misses his
neighbour a lot, and would I
not meet him in church. I would be saved and
happy, and he would have accumulated some virtue for saving a
death. The world after all is nothing but negotiations, where both the
parties gain. I listened
to long speeches, and I learnt a lot about how I
could gain confidence. After the long day, I came back to my room
again thought of dear Miss X. Undoubtedly, she was right. I know nothing
about myself. There is
NO science in the world that nullifies the
possibility of my being tortured to death, and suffering from acute
Of course there is the beautiful set of data which is much more
reliable than some grey cells that have every possibility
to be undergoing
Hence last summer, I was sitting with a group of people, all from distant
colleges (in today's perfectly democratic world, a community
college and an institute for technology - all are created
equal, and serve
the same purpose of educating the future inhabitants of the world), and all
were assumed to have the
same genetic disorder as I. I learnt a lot about
myself, since my ever concerned supervisor cancelled any ignorant
that the medication may not be necessary. I learnt what quantum mechanics
was, since my ever degenerating
chromosome must have caused my high school
knowledge to be lost in the pressure of emotional traumas like anguish,
social unacceptance, and the lack of confidence. So I came back home
at night, and composed a letter
to Miss X.
Dear Miss X,
I lied on your test. I lied on purpose because I wanted to score higher
and I lacked the guts to tell you that
your absolute truth has a
counterexample; as the old adage states: "Where ignorance is bliss, it is
to be wise." I would rather not know myself, about my defective
chromosome. I would like to be drugged and
doped to the extent to think
that I am a proud and happy individual and I need no medication. I want
soar in the sky, I want to touch the horizon. I am most outrageously an
idiot to think that I can survive on my own.
My deficient chromosome has undergone a double mutation,
and I am stating the fact with shame. I hope you forgive me; I am only a spineless liar.