Doubting Thomas: Long and ardently have I wished that I had not been born. This wish is not synonymous with a wish for death, notwithstanding the allure of an instantaneous and painless one — a wish, which I had often expressed in the past.
Don Quixote: But life is beautiful! The world is beautiful!
Doubting Thomas: Was it a stroll in the salubrious English countryside that persuaded you to this view? Or was it your narcissism on having looked at a photo of yourself smiling amidst the breezy lap of Nature that convinced you of its truth?
Don Quixote: You shall be convinced of it yourself, should you decide to get out of the monotony that is your privileged ivory tower and achieve something for yourself.
Doubting Thomas: I do not deny the contentment of having achieved something for oneself. I am curious as to what purpose being alive ultimately serves.
Don Quixote: You shall have the answer once you are at peace with yourself.
Doubting Thomas: You mean you are not articulate enough to tell me.
Don Quixote: I mean what I said. Why are you not satisfied with getting to experience the world with all its vicissitudes, and the joy of sailing through it all?
Doubting Thomas: And where, pray, do I carry this ‘valuable experience’ after death? To Swarga? For what? To narrate my experience at a symposium?
Don Quixote: You carry that experience nowhere; to narrate to none. It is yours to savour, and yours alone. Life is what you make of it.
Doubting Thomas: Untrue. Life is both what I want to make of it and a cornucopia of unpredictable factors, some of which might well not leave me in either a physical or a mental state able enough to make anything of it, let alone better.
Don Quixote: Perseverance, junior! Perseverance! You never know when good fate may befall you.
Doubting Thomas: Perseverance is Sisyphean and hope for good fate is too ‘left-to-chance-existence’ in a world which is a repertoire of cruelty, would you not agree?
Don Quixote: What is so execrable about the world being cruel or unfair? One must deal with it. The world does not owe you a kind or fair existence.
Doubting Thomas: And I do not owe the world my existence.
Don Quixote: Do you underestimate the power of humans to shape the world? The world would naturally be a better place were we all to be positive, would it not?
Doubting Thomas: Surely, you are not indifferent to world history, are you? We are blessed, or cursed, with a panoply of sentiments other than love and hearts, and the survival instinct, which is not always conducive to the eternal cantillations of kumbaya, generally trumps all other sentiments. We might not be exchanging those trite good morning messages full of pink hearts on WhatsApp, were, say, so great a resource scarcity to prevail on Earth as to send even developed countries into a state of utter turmoil. We might be reduced to our tribalist selves. Enjoy hunting one another, then.
Don Quixote: But what have you to worry about? The very chronicle of world history that you quote to me is one of progress; from tribalism to civilization! Millennia of societal violence and wars have gradually consolidated us into civilized existence.
Doubting Thomas: And are you convinced of the linearity of it all? I happen to think it cyclical.
Don Quixote: Even so, what have you to fear? Just think: you might not have had a chance to engage in your logophilia and written verbiage had you not been brought into existence!
Doubting Thomas: It could hardly be said to compensate for life and appurtenant woes — too heavy a price to pay for little pleasures.
Don Quixote: It is futile convincing you.
Doubting Thomas: I am glad you have conceded defeat so graciously. Farewell!