Nov 15, 2010

A Question of Trust - Part IV

Read Part One, Two and Three here.

Trust is a strange thing - all it takes is a small weed of doubt to be planted in the mind for it to overpower the banyan of trust built over years with tender care. And the capacity of the human mind to seek out information which supports its preconceived hypothesis, and reject anything that does not conform to the conclusion already arrived at, would indeed be amusing, if it were not so predictably tragic...

As he wrote these lines, he reflected on the effect a single line, casually tossed in a conversation, had had on Lakshmi Ammal’s psyche. Mere words, spoken by a person sitting miles away, had caused her to question a committment first sealed by sacred fire and then sanctified by decades of togetherness.

... But the key redeeming feature of the human mind is its capacity to forgive. And willingly, if reluctantly, forget. And thus, a father is able to forgive his daughter after years of ostracizing her. A wife is able to overcome her suspicions, the very ones her mind was convinced about based on what her own eyes and ears had fed her. And a husband is able to forgive his wife for doubting him, able to be empathetic enough to view the situation from her point of view and understand how his sudden affection to a strange girl must have seemed like.

It had all worked out as planned. The old couple’s bond was stronger than ever, having recently survived the agnipariksha, and the father was closer to his daughter than if he would ever have been had he not banished her from his house. Distance does make the heart grow fonder. Yes, everything had worked out as planned. Except...

She had left him. The moment she came to know that she had been used as an unwitting guinea pig in a tasteless experiment, she had quietly but decisively ended their relationship. She had been shocked to know that it was he who had pulled strings to get her onto the project. It was he who had encouraged her to spew hatred against an old man, one she did not know could be her future father-in-law. She shook with disgust thinking that if she hadn’t called Krishna Iyer a father figure, her boyfriend would have been only too happy to test if she ended up having an affair with his own father. Just to test another of his pet theories that deep love was usually forged out of people finding fault with one another. He was unable to convince her that he trusted her enough to believe that would never happen. She had called him a sick bastard for using his own girlfriend as a ‘subject’ in the social experiment he had conducted on his parents. And Kalpathy Krishnaswamy Shankar Iyer, reflected on the irony of his girlfriend telling him she is leaving him because she’ll never be able to trust him, just as he had successfully concluded what he called the ‘trust experiment’ and proved that a few minor weeds cannot shake the deep rooted tree of trust. He thought he had accounted for all the pawns, but one of the pawns had unexpectedly reached the other end and had become the Queen. 

While one might analyze the fallibility of the human mind to fool itself into seeking out information to confirm its pre-conceived notions, while at the same time wonder at its ability to instantly ignore and forget all evidence which goes contrary to its set belief, these are but minor cognitive errors. One might avoid them if one is aware of their possibility, and the way they distort the mind’s decisions. The larger, and usually unavoidable, error is one where the mind believes itself to be infallible, considers itself unique in the sense that what affects other ‘lesser’ minds would not affect a ‘superior’ one like itself, rejects the very possibility of failure, a situation which some learned people refer to as ‘hubris’.

Because, after all, if you couldn’t trust your own mind, who would you trust?

PS1: And that brings an end to another long, I-wish-I-won't-be-tempted-to-start-another-series, story. 

Ps2: Congrats Sampath, for having correctly guessed the relationship between Shankar and Krishna Iyer, 2 chapters back.


  1. Brilliant series. Rather unexpected ending though. I especially like the way the stories seem disjointed in flow between the 4 parts yet it continuous from some point in the characters' time line.

  2. Sampath6:13 AM

    Thanks :)

    your serious unkiruku like reply to my comment kinda gave me a hint that my guess would turn out to be correct. Now this post confirmed it.

    Eagerly waiting for posts on the visit to your home turf. Correlating your visit with the twitter status ( ) I'm expecting an eventful post :)

  3. @ MM:
    Thank you :)
    Unexpected ending? One reader predicted the ending 2 chapters back!

    @ Sampath:
    Well, there was no funny comeback to that question...
    and the home visit post must necessarily be tempered now that my mom follows the blog!

  4. I was referring to the girl breaking up with him and not the part about Shankar being KVR's son! That really was an easy guess.