Was Gregor Samsa a Monster?: An Analysis of Franz Kafka’s ‘The Metamorphosis’

In the third act of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, the three paying guests living with the Samsas, ask Grete (the sister) to play the violin in their room. While the three boarders are disinterested shortly, and the parents and the sister struggle to impress them, Gregor is “seduced” by the music, and with a desire to protect his sister, moves towards her. At this moment, Kafka throws a question:

“Was he a beast if music could move him so?” (Kafka, The Metamorphosis, Act III)

In my first reading, I told myself, “No, Gregor Samsa is not a monster. He has been a victim of a misfortune, and he has suffered more than he can bear.”

But then, those who love music (and art in general) can also become monsters. Several artists have committed heinous crimes and so have the fans. So, when I went back to Kafka’s question, I found something in the succeeding sentences I had overlooked on my first reading, which completely altered my view. There were hints that showed me why Gregor was a monster–literally as well as figuratively.

I. Gregor and Grete

In the same paragraph where Gregor asks if he is a beast, he is “determined to reach the sister and tug on her skirt to suggest that she take her violin and come into his room, for no one here was as worthy of her playing as he would be. He would never let her leave his room, at least as long as he lived; for the first time, his horrifying appearance would work to his advantage: He would stand guard at all the doors simultaneously, hissing at the attackers; the sister, however, would not be forcibly detained but would stay with him of her own free will.” Had he not transformed, he would have declared on the Christmas that Grete was going to the Conservatory so that she could learn music. “After this declaration the sister would burst into emotional tears and Gregor would raise himself to her shoulder and kiss her neck, which she kept bare since she started working, wearing no ribbon or collar.”

I have no hesitation saying that Gregor has an incestuous desire towards his sister. I also found this article that supports my idea. It says that the desire for his sister (as well as his mother) was “forbidden as a man but not as a beast“.

But, Gregor had wanted Grete even before the transformation. In the second act, we know that “it was his secret plan that she, who unlike Gregor greatly loved music and played the violin movingly, should be sent to the Conservatory next year despite the considerable expense it was sure to incur, which would just have to be met in some other way.

This “secret plan” sounds sinister. Although he had not declared it, everyone in the Samsa family already know that Gregor wants to send his sister to the Conservatory. So, what is the secret plan? Did he want to take her away from the family so that he could take advantage of her? Did his parents sense his sinister thoughts? I firmly believe that the parents refused the idea of sending Grete to the Conservatory because they thought Gregor was already a vermin in his mind.

And, what was the “some other way” to cover the expenses? Was he going to get a better job? That did not seem to be happening soon. Their father’s pension would never be enough. So then, did he want her sister to get a job? Or did he want to push her into prostitution? Because Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment explicitly mentions people forcing young women of their own family into prostitution and living off it, I don’t think this is a wild supposition!

However, what happens in Act I makes me think that Gregor was not limited to desire and secret plan but he had actually raped her.

Gregor has already turned into a monstrous insect and is unable to get up from his bed. The head clerk knocks on Gregor’s door, and his parents call him out but Grete is crying in another room. Why didn’t she come to his door? “And why was she crying?” She didn’t know that Gregor had turned into a monster. Or did she? Did she cry not because Gregor was going to lose his job because but because she had seen him losing humanity and turning into a monster?

Her feelings towards Gregor is more pronounced in Act III after he scares the three boarders away. Grete says, “I refuse to pronounce my brother’s name in front of this monstrosity, and so I say: We have to try to get rid of it. We’ve done everything humanly possible to care for it and tolerate it; I don’t believe anyone could reproach us.”

On my first reading, she sounded cold-hearted to me, but now, I can hear her anger and pain. She must have been tired of feeding the monster. And if she had seen him turn into the beast, the pain must have been unbearable. But then, a question arises: Why did she feed him?

I think it was because of her parents. As Grete painfully says, her parents were attached to Gregor although he had metamorphosed into a monster. Sending her into Gregor’s room could be a sign for Grete to forgive her brother. I am reminded of several cases where girls are dismissed or told to forget what had happened and forgive the perpetrator. when they say they have been raped by their family member. The parents, to protect their son and to see if she gains at least some sympathy for him him, made their daughter give him food to Gregor. She gave him the food, but there was no love. She always feels uneasy around him. Gregor “concluded that the sight of him was still repulsive to her and was bound to remain repulsive, and that she must have exercised great self-control not to take flight at the sight of even the smallest portion of his body protruding from under the couch.” (Kafka, The Metamorphosis, Act II)

Grete was also sure that Gregor would never feel any remorse for what he had done and would never turn into human.

II. The Father’s fury after seeing Gregor as the monster for the first time

In Act I, after Gregor opens the door, his truth is revealed to the Head Clerk, the mother, and the father. The Head Clerk and the mother are shocked and scared, but the father is neither shocked, nor scared. “The father, furiously shaking his fists as if willing Gregor to go back in his room, looked uncertainly around the living room, covered his eyes in his hands, and sobbed with great heaves of his powerful chest.” (Kafka, The Metamorphosis, Act I)

While the sister is crying in another room, the father is angry and sad seeing the monster instead of his son. Because he is not shocked, I am inclined to believe that the father knew what Gregor had done and wanted to punish him. His anger and grief were also directed towards himself as he had not been able to stop Gregor from turning into a monster.

In Act III, after Grete tells they must “get rid of it”, the father is grieved. “If only he could understand us,” he says, meaning Gregor would never understand their love because he was a monster in his mind and body. (However, while reading for the first time, I felt that Gregor’s family was not even trying to understand him. The Metamorphosis has several layers with several valid interpretations which makes it a great story!)

III. The Apple

At the end of Act II, Gregor’s father sees Gregor out of his room. In fury, he begins an attack. He hurls apples at Gregor, one of which is stuck on Gregor’s body for the rest of his life. This, is a clear reference to the biblical story of the apple stuck on Adam’s throat and a symbol of Gregor’s sin.

Conclusion

In this analysis, I conclude Gregor was a monster. However, Kafka’s The Metamorphosis has many layers. Just as in my first reading, Gregor can be read as a victim of unpleasant situation and his family’s abuse of him. He can also be conceived as a depressed character who has struggled to keep up with the pace of the world and feels so helpless that he believes he is a worthless vermin. In that perspective, Gregor’s family appears as cold-hearted monsters, who never try to understand Gregor. It’s astonishing that the characters of The Metamorphosis can sometimes be white, sometimes black, and sometimes grey!

[Note: The quotes included in the article are from The Metamorphosis and Other Stories, (Trans. Donna Fried), Barnes and Noble Classic, 2003. Bold parts of quotes are for emphasis.]

भगवान् रामको जन्मभूमि नेपालमा नै छ ?

भानुभक्तको जन्मदिन । उनका रामायणका हरफहरू प्रशस्तै देखिरहेको थिएँ । साँझ ट्वीटरमा राम नाम जप्नेहरूको कमी थिएन । त्यसैको निरन्तरता हो कि जस्तो लाग्यो । एकछिन पछि हेर्छु त राम जन्मभूमि अयोध्या भारतमा होइन नेपालको वीरगन्ज नजिकै ठोरीमा पो छ भनिरहेका छन् । के भएछ भनेर बुझ्दै जाँदा प्रधानमन्त्री ओलीले दिउँसोको कार्यक्रममा त्यसो भन्नुभएको रहेछ । के अयोध्या नेपालमै थियो ? यो प्रश्न उठाएको एउटा लेख (‘भगवान् राम नेपालमै जन्मेका आठ प्रमाण’, २०७५ कात्तिक ३०, सौर्य अनलाइन) घुम्दैफिर्दै आइपुग्यो । लोकमणि पौडेलले लेख्नु भएको त्यो लेखमा आठवटा ‘प्रमाण’ प्रस्तुत गरिएको रहेछ । यी ‘प्रमाण’हरूको विश्लेषण गर्ने प्रयास गर्छु ।

१. ५ सय किलोमिटर टाढाको अयोध्याबाट रथमा चढेर जनकपुर आइपुग्न सम्भव थिएन ।

यो तर्क साह्रै फितलो छ । विश्वामित्रले गर्न लागेको यज्ञ मारीच र ताटका राक्षसराक्षसीले पटकपटक भङ्ग गरेकाले यज्ञको रक्षा गर्न र राक्षसराक्षसीको वध गर्न रामलक्षमणलाई अयोध्याबाट कौशिकी किनारको आश्रममा लागेका थिए । यो कथाले वाल्मीकि रामायणको केही भूगोल बुझ्न मद्दत गर्छ । बाल काण्डको सर्ग २३ देखि ३० सम्म सरयू नदी र गङ्गाको संगमस्थलमा रहेको अङ्ग प्रदेश पुगेको, गङ्गा तरेर ताटकाको वनमा गएर उसको वध गरेको, वन पार गरेर विश्वामित्रको सिद्धाश्रममा मारीच र सुबाहु राक्षसबाट यज्ञ रक्षा गरेपछि बल्ल मिथिलातिर लागेको प्रसङ्ग छ । त्यस्तै सर्ग ३१-६५ मा शोणा नदीको किनारमा बसेर विशाला नगर हुँदै मिथिला पुगेको उल्लेख छ । उता रामजानकी विवाह निश्चित भएपछि दशरथलाई सन्देश पुर्‍याउने दूतहरू तीव्र गतिमा घोडा चढेर तीन दिनमा आइपुगेको बताउँछन् (वाल्मिकी रामायण १.६८.१) । त्यस्तै दशरथ नाना थरीका रथ लिएर चार दिनको बाटोबाट मिथिला पुग्छन् (वाल्मिकी रामायण १.६९.७)।

२. लक्ष्मणले सीतालाई वाल्मीकि आश्रममा छोडेर त्यही दिन फर्किए । भारतको अयोध्याबाट नेपालमा रहेको वाल्मिकी आश्रम २५० किलोमिटरको दूरीमा भएकाले एकै दिनमा फर्किन सम्भव छैन ।

नेपालको चितवनमा मात्रै वाल्मीकि आश्रम रहेको मान्ने हो भने यो ठीकै होला । लवकुशले पिङ खेलेका भनेका लहरा, रामको घोडा बाँधेको खम्बा, पुराना इनार नभएका होइनन् । तर भारतको उत्तर प्रदेश राज्यको बिठोरमा पनि वाल्मिकी आश्रम रहेछ । त्यही आश्रममा सीता र लवकुश बसेको र रामायण पनि त्यहीँ नै लेखिएको मान्यता रहेछ । वाल्मीकिको आश्रम हालको नेपालमा थियो कि भारतमा ? ऋषिमुनिहरू तप गर्दै धेरै ठाउँ पुग्थे । वाल्मीकिको आश्रम एउटा मात्रै हुनुपर्छ भन्ने छैन । एक ठाउँमा मात्रै हुनुपर्छ भन्ने पनि छैन । जसरी अचेल स्कूलका चेन हुन्छन्, गुरुकुल र आश्रमका पनि चेन हुन सक्छन् । हाल बिठोरमा रहेको आश्रममा लक्ष्मण सीतालाईले छाडेपछि हालको चितवनमा आएका पनि हुन सक्छन् । पछि उता गएका पनि हुनसक्छ ।  

यी दुवै आश्रममा सीता र लवकुशको कुनै सम्बन्ध नहुन पनि सक्छ । वाल्मीकि ऋषि हुनु अघि डकैती गर्दै दिन बिताउँथे । नारदले वाल्मीकिलाई राम नाम जप्न सिकाउँदा वाल्मीकिलाई रामका बारेमा थाहा नभए जस्तो लाग्छ । त्यस्तै नारदले वाल्मीकि ऋषि भइसकेपछि रामायण सुनाउँदा वाल्मीकि भन्दा राम धेरै नै प्राचीन जस्ता लाग्छन् । सीतालाई वाल्मीकि आश्रममा छाडिएको प्रसङ्ग उत्तरकाण्डमा छ जसलाई वाल्मीकिले रचेको नभई पछि थपिएको मान्नेहरूको सङ्ख्या पनि धेरै छ । वाल्मीकि रामायण डट नेटले उत्तरकाण्ड आफ्नो साइटमा राखेकै छैन ।       

३. सन् २००० मा प्रकाशित कमलेश्वरको उपन्यास ‘कितने पाकिस्तान’ मा अयोध्या रामको जन्मभूमि नभएको पुष्टि गरिएको छ ।

यो त मेरी म्यागडालिन जिजस क्राइष्टकी पत्नी थिइन् भनेर ड्यान ब्राउनले डा भिन्ची कोड उपन्यासमा भनेजस्तो भयो । अमिश त्रिपाठीले उपन्यासमा लेखेकाले रावण, हनुमान, गणेश म्युटेन्ट हुन् भन्ने पुष्टि भइसक्यो भन्न पनि नमिल्ला ! हुन त प्राचीन ग्रन्थको आधारमा रामको इतिहास केलाउन खोजिँदै छ र केही ऐतिहासिकता भेटिएको पनि छ तर ग्रन्थ र उपन्यासका “तथ्य” र “कल्पना” छुट्याउन पनि त कम गाह्रो छैन ।

४. भारतमा नक्कली लुम्बिनी बनाए जस्तै बाबरी मस्जिदमाथि हिन्दूहरूले हमला गरून् भनेर त्यो ठाउँलाई अयोध्या भनिएको हुनसक्छ ।

बुद्धकालिन सम्पदाहरू नेपाल र भारत मात्रै होइन अफगानिस्तानसम्म पनि भेटिएका छन् । नेपालको लुम्बिनीमा भेटिएको अशोक स्तम्भले त्यहीँ बुद्ध जन्मेका हुन् भन्ने सिद्ध गरिसकेको छ । लुम्बिनी विश्व सम्पदा सूचिमा रहेको पनि बीसौं वर्ष भइसक्यो । भारतले नक्कली लुम्बिनी बनाउन कसरी सक्ला ?

हाल अयोध्या भनिएको ठाउँ धेरै लामो इतिहासबाट गुज्रिएको छ । मुस्लिमहरूले यो क्षेत्रमा आक्रमण मात्र गरेनन्, शासन पनि गरे र कति ठाउँ तहसनहस पनि पारे । तेह्रौं शताब्दीमा सिमरौनगढ पतन भयो । त्यसै ताका कान्तिपुर र भादगाउँमा पनि लुट मच्चाए । बाबरी मस्जिद भएको ठाउँमा राम मन्दिर थियो भनेर हिन्दूहरूले मस्जिद गिराउनु उचित भने थिएन । तेह्रौँ शताब्दीका मुसलमान र बीसौँ शताब्दीका हिन्दू उस्तै हुन् ? होइनन् भने बाबरी मस्जिद ऐतिहासिक धरोहर थियो । साम्प्रदायिक दङ्गा नहुने गरी व्यवस्थापन गर्न सकिन्थ्यो । जति राम मन्दिर त्यति राम्रो भन्ने कुरा पनि सुनियो । त्यसो हो भने जति बुद्धका धाम त्यति राम्रो किन नभन्ने ?

५. नेपालको चितवन जिल्लामा रहेको माडी प्राचीन समयदेखि नै अयोध्यापुरीका नामले पनि जानिन्थ्यो । त्यसैले वास्तविक रामजन्म भूमि अयोध्या हुनुपर्छ । केही समय पहिलेसम्म त्यहाँस्थित एउटा गाविसको नाउँ अयोध्यापुरी रहेको थियो । अहिले टाँडी नगरपालिका भएपछि वडा ७ र ८ मा परेको छ । सो ठाउँबाट जनकपुर करिब १ सय ८० किमी पूर्वमा पर्छ भने वाल्मीकि आश्रम झण्डै ७० किमी पश्चिममा पर्छ । त्यहाँबाट रथमा चढेर एकै दिनमा वाल्मीकि आश्रम पुगेर फर्कन सकिन्छ ।

माडी (चितवन) कि ठोरी (पर्सा) ? प्रधानमन्त्री भन्नुहुन्छ ठोरी । पौडेल भन्नुहुन्छ, “प्रधानमन्त्रीज्यूले मेरो लेख पढेर राम जन्मभूमि नेपालमा पर्छ भन्नुभयो ।” फेरि पौडेलको लेखमा माडी छ । अध्ययन नै नभएको कुरामा दाबी कसरी हुन्छ ? प्रधानमन्त्रीज्यू, कुनै कुरा दाबी गर्दा फ्याक्ट चेक गरौँ न है अनि यो लेख/किताबको आधारमा भनेको पनि भन्दिउँ न है । अस्ति मात्रै भारतीय मिडियालाई फ्याक्ट देखाएनन् भनेर गाली गरियो । हेर्नुस् त, भोलिपल्टै माफी माग्नुपर्यो । लाज भयो ।  

६. “उता वाल्मीकि आश्रम अहिले पनि नेपालमै पर्छ । यो सबैले मानिआएको विषय हो । चितवन राष्ट्रिय निकुञ्ज तथा पर्सा वन्यजन्तु आरक्षको दक्षिणी सिमानामा अवस्थित यस आश्रममा नेपालकै भूमि भएर पुग्न सहज छैन । अहिले पनि त्रिवेणीबाट नारायणी पार गरेर इन्डियाको टंकी बजार पुगी इन्डियाकै वाल्मीकि बाघ संरक्षण क्षेत्र हुँदै सुननदी र पतनदी तरेर पुग्नुपर्ने अवस्था छ । यसमा नेपाल सरकारको खासै ध्यान पुगेको छैन ।“

भारतमा पनि वाल्मीकि आश्रम रहेछ भन्ने त माथि लेखिसकियो । नेपालमा रहेको आश्रम सुगम हुनुपर्छ र संरक्षण गर्नैपर्छ ।

७. “रामायणको अन्तिमतिर वाल्मीकि, सीता र लव कुशलाई लिएर पैदल यात्रा गरी रामलाई भेट्न गएको वर्णन छ । वाल्मीकिले सीताको पवित्रताका बारेमा रामलाई अवगत गराएर सीता तथा लव कुश तीनै जनालाई रामको जिम्मा लगाउने योजना थियो । उनीहरूको भेट भएको ठाउँ अहिलेको देवघाट हो । त्यो वेला रामले सीतालाई स्वीकार गर्दा जनतामा गलत सन्देश जाने सोचेकाले सहजतासँग वाल्मीकिको आग्रह शिरोपर गर्न सकेनन् । यसबाट दुःखी भएकी सीताले धरती मातालाई पुकारिन् । धरती फाटिन् र सीता धरतीमा समाहित भइन् । त्यो ठाउँको दर्शन गर्न अहिले पनि देवघाटमा तीर्थालुहरूको भिड लाग्छ ।“

उत्तरकाण्डको यो पारिवारिक भेटघाट चितवनको देवघाटमा नै भएको ऐतिहासिक प्रमाण छ र ? उत्तरकाण्ड किन सन्देहपूर्ण छ भनेर त माथि आइसक्यो । फेरि नदोहोर्याऊँ । तर रामायणलाई इतिहास मान्ने हो भने धर्ती मातालाई पुकारेको अनि धर्ती फाटेको कुरा चाहिँ पत्यारिलो लाग्दैन । 

८. “अहिलेको अयोध्यापुरीदेखि पश्चिम नारायणी नदी पार गरेपछि रामग्राम आउँछ । अयोध्यापुरीदेखि उत्तरतिर रामपुर छ । अयोध्यापुरीदेखि पूर्व सुनसरी जिल्लाको जंगलमा रामले धुनी जगाई आगो तापेको ठाउँ अद्यापि रामधुनीका नामले प्रसिद्ध छ । उता देवघाटसँग जोडिएको रामनगर पनि बिर्सनु हुँदैन । पाल्पामा पनि रामपुर छ । रामपुरसँगै काली नदीको किनारमा रामघाट छ जहाँबाट राम अन्तध्र्यान भएका थिए । रामायणमा रामले आफ्नो राज्य विस्तार गरेको प्रसङ्ग उल्लिखित छ । वरिपरिका रामनाम युक्त ठाउँहरू रामले विजय प्राप्त गरेका ठाउँहरू हुन सक्छन् ।”

राम जन्मभूमि भनिसकेपछि त्यसको वरिपरी रामको नाम भएका ठाउँ हुनु स्वाभाविक नै होला । तर यो पनि अनुमानमै सीमित छ । अरू नै कुनै राम पनि त हुन सक्छन् नि ! रामायणका रामभन्दा अघिका परशुराम पनि राम नामले नै चिनिन्थे । वाल्मिकी रामायणमा परशुरामलाई पटकपटक भार्गव राम र जामदग्न्य राम भनिएको छ दुई रामका बीचमा कन्फ्युजन नहोस् भनेर । विष्णुका दुई अवतारको नाम राम छ भने अरू कति राम होलान् ?

थप कुरा

माथि वाल्मीकि रामायणका आधारमा मात्रै विश्लेषण गरेँ । अरू रामायणबाट कुरा आए भने मेरा तर्क पनि काटिएलान्, सीमित अध्ययन भएकाले वाल्मीकि रामायणले नै पनि काट्न सक्छ । ठूलो कुरा होइन । रामायण मात्रै ३०० वटा सम्म रहेका छन् । नारद, वाल्मिकी, कालिदास, तुलसीदास, काम्बन, भानुभक्त त मैले थाहा पाएका केही रचयिता हुन् । रामायणका पात्रहरूका अनेक कथा छन् । विभिन्न क्षेत्र र भाषाका लोककथाहरूमा राम कहिले सामान्य मानिस, कहिले राजा त कहिले भगवान् बनेका छन् । पाली भाषाको ‘दशरथ जातक’मा राम र सीता दाजुबहिनी हुन्छन् । कुनैमा रावणवध रामले नभएर लक्ष्मणले गर्छन् । काम्बन रामायणमा सीता रावणकी छोरी हुन्छिन् । पहाड, सागर र पुष्पक विमान बोलेको जस्ता दन्त्यकथा रामायणमा अटाएका छन् भने विश्वामित्रको तपस्या, शिवधनु, परशुराम, जस्ता पौराणिक कथा पनि आएका छन् । यस्ता कठिनाई बावजुद रामायणको ऐतिहासिकता खोज्ने प्रयास भइरहेका छन् जुन निकै गाह्रो काम हो ।

असार १३, २०७७ मा भोगीराज चाम्लिङको ‘रामायणको लंका : श्रीलंका कि भारतमा ?’ शीर्षकको अन्वेषणमा आधारित एउटा लेख कान्तिपुरको कोसेलीमा छापिएको छ । लेखमा भाषिक अध्ययनका आधारमा लंकाको अर्थ टापू हुने, साथै भारतको मध्यप्रदेश स्थित क्षेत्रका आदिवासीका इतिहासका आधारमा उक्त क्षेत्रमा रामायणवर्णित लंका थियो भन्ने तर्कहरू सन्दर्भ सहित प्रस्तुत गरिएको छ । त्यसभन्दा अघि २०७६ असोज २५ मा नयाँ पत्रिकाले ‘लंकाकोण’ शीर्षकमा सौरभको लेख प्रकाशन गरेको छ । यसमा पनि सन्दर्भहरू दिँदै विभिन्न भाषामा लंकाको अर्थ दक्षिण र टापू भनिएको छ र रामायणको लंका मध्यप्रदेशमा पर्छ भन्ने कुरालाई पनि जोड दिइएको छ ।

वैज्ञानिक अध्ययन हुँदै जाँदा पुराना मान्यता फेरिएर नयाँ मान्यता स्थापित हुनु नौलो होइन । राम जन्मभूमिका विषयमा पनि उचित वैज्ञानिक अध्ययन भएर नयाँ कुरा आउनसक्छ तर अकस्मात नयाँ मान्यता आए भने तिनलाई आत्मसात् गर्न गाह्रो पनि हुन सक्छ । कोपर्निकस, ग्यालिलियो, डार्विनजस्ता वैज्ञानिकका प्रमाणित तथ्यलाई समेत जनमानसले सहजै ग्रहण गर्न सकेन ।

रामलाई कथाको पात्र मान्ने हो भने उनी जहाँ जन्मिएका भए पनि के फरक पर्छ र ? ऐतिहासिक पात्र हुन् भने पनि जुन बेला उनी जन्मिए, त्यो बेलाको भूगोल अहिलेको जस्तो छँदै थिएन । उनी न नेपाली थिए न भारतीय । उनलाई मान्नेले उनका कर्मका आधारमा भगवान् मानेका छन् । उनका गल्ती देखाएर उनलाई भगवान् नमान्ने पनि छन् । भगवान् मान्ने हो भने त उनी सर्वव्यापी छन् । न आदि छ न अन्त्य । न जन्म न मरण । बुद्धका हकमा पनि लगभग यस्तै कुरा लागू हुन्छन् । अनि यस्ता विषयमा झगडा किन गर्नुपर्यो ?

तर म बबुरोले मात्रै होला यस्तो सोच्ने ! राम जन्मभूमिका नाममा उठेको विवाद साम्प्रदायिक द्वन्द्वमा परिणत भयो । त्यही द्वन्द्वबाट उठेर भारतीय जनता पार्टी राजनीति गरिरहेका छन् । भारतीय सर्वोच्च अदालतले बाबरी मस्जिद भत्काएको ठाउँमा राम मन्दिर बनाउन पाउने निर्णयलाई भारतीय प्रधानमन्त्री मोदीले राम्रै क्यास गरे । जुन रामको नाममा मोदी राजनीति गर्दैछन् तिनै रामको जन्मभूमिलाई फिक्का तर्कको आधारमा नेपालको भनेर दाबी नै गरिदिन्छन् ओली । कताकता डर लागिरहेको छ । भगवानका नाममा झगडा नगरौं भन्दा पनि कहिले बुद्ध त कहिले रामको विषयमा विवाद भइरहँदा रिचर्ड डकिन्सको ‘द गड डिल्युजन’मा पढेका (ठ्याक्कै यस्तै नभए पनि) शब्दहरू याद आइरहेको छ –“नरम भन्दा नरम धर्म (सम्प्रदाय) लाई मान्नेहरू पनि जुनसुकै बेला कट्टर हुन सक्छन् । त्यसैले सबै साम्प्रादाय हटाउनुपर्छ ।“

PUBG Ban: An Analysis

It’s been about a week since the Government of Nepal imposed a ban on the First Person Shooting Battle Royale game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (popular as PUBG). The reasons cited were:

  1. The game is addictive.
  2. It is violent.
  3. It affected the grade of students.
  4. It lowered creativity.

The number of complaints that parents and teachers registered was the trigger behind the restriction.

Some reactions that I saw are:

“Excellent! Such violent games should be banned.”

“Good! Our children will focus on studies now.”

“The government encroached our freedom!”

“I had not played once before the ban!”

“As long as VPN is available, no worries!

Now, let me analyse the cause and effect.

#1 The game

As it is an FPS survival game, PUBG is inherently violent. However, this is not the first violent game. In fact, I have seen that most popular video games are violent. And they have been around us in silence for decades.

So, what exposed PUBG? I believe it’s the interactive mode. It can be played solo, or as a squad of two or four. In most cases, you need to move together.  Communication is important. The words “kill”, “help”, “fight”, “guns”, “bombs”, and so on are going to attract the people around you. If you are a teenager and if your parents hear this, they might believe you are involved in something unpleasant or that the game is promoting violence.

Another problem the game has is that it is for teens. However, the nature of the game and online interaction be difficult even for adults. There is high chance of cyber bullying and it may be disturbing for some. But teens (and even pre-teens) play mature games (which have not been banned) all the time.

#2 Parents and Children

I see problem in our parenting. At the age of two, when a child does not want to eat food, they are shown YouTube videos. Soon they get addicted. By the age of three, the child starts scrolling the “smartphones”. When they reach four, they become aggressive when they don’t get the phones. They also start playing games and get furious when the parents don’t want them to play.

Though most teenagers today have not come through the path, they are naturally curious and are also dependent on peers in making decision. If someone says, this game is nice, they decide it is nice. As these teenagers also have access to smartphones (parents buy phones for them to meet their obstinate demands), they soon get addicted. Notion is that a child should stay at home. If a child does not go out, all is well! However, parents seldom take care of what their children do at home with phones and computers at their hands.

Parents themselves are also ignorant of the effects of social media and long hours of gaming on their children. So, they don’t talk with their children. They try to impose a restriction without proper reasoning. That’s counterproductive as restriction evokes curiosity.

#3 Government and the limitation of restriction

The government did what parents wanted and imposed a ban on the game. They recognized the problem but without understanding the limitation of the restriction.

As said earlier, there are numerous interactive, survival, strategy games available on and off the internet. Internet is the modern Hydra. You cut a head, another takes its place. Today PUBG created problem, tomorrow some other game will. How many games will government shut down?

Not just games, social media could also be behind poor performances and violent inclinations. Will the government ban social media. If there is enough complaints, there is a possibility that they will be banned.

Until then, let me enjoy my freedom!