The oxford dictionary describes a fugitive as “a person who has escaped from captivity or is in hiding”. As one reads this article, one will find that this article is more tilted towards a person who is in hiding rather than a person who has escaped from captivity. Man has the tendency to avoid and run away from many things. Some run away from their responsibilities and obligations, some from unsavory situations like poverty, war, unhealthy and unhygienic environments, uncongenial family atmosphere etc. While some are compelled to be on the run due to appalling or pressing situations, some simply are on the run to avoid certain situations, people or environment. While some people run in search of greener pastures and better lives.
For me (at least in this article), a fugitive could be anyone who is on the run due to any of the above cited reasons because they chose to leave behind their origin and sever ties with it at least for some time if not permanently. But in general parlance, a fugitive is generally taken to be a criminal who is on the run to avoid prosecution by the law. Such a person could be a thief, a murderer, a rapist or anyone who has violated the law and system of the land. And I have no intention to elevate or glorify any person who is hiding or is running due to their anti-social or criminal activities. Rather I have complete disdain for violent people who indulge in crimes and are on the run. Such people can never benefit any people or society wherever they may be and there is only one best place for them and that is “PRISON”.
I also certainly have no regard and admiration for people who run away from their responsibilities and obligations. Every one of us lives in one or the other society and as such all of us have certain obligations and responsibilities to maintain and fulfill. Though these obligations and responsibilities may be unwritten or even unspoken, we as human beings all know what are the codes, the obligations and the responsibilities that we have to maintain and fulfill as responsible men and women of society. We live in families and so we have obligations and responsibilities towards our family and family members. And if we work we have obligations and responsibilities towards our work, our workplace and friends and colleagues who work with us. This sense is what makes us different from animals and so if someone is unable to realize these obligations and responsibilities, he/she is no longer fit to live in societies. Our society is abounded with such persons and these people, in a sense, become sort of fugitives since they hide from their responsibilities and obligations. Nobody would have any regard, respect or admiration for such persons and such persons cannot achieve any worthwhile thing in life.
Many western cowboy movies romanticize and glorify outlaws and fugitives. And the viewers who view these films are literally made to fall in love with these characters. A cowboy whose picture is pasted in the towns with the tag “WANTED” and a cash reward written below is usually considered as cool and stylish by fans of these movies. But in this article, I do not intend to romanticize or glorify such fugitives. Rather, my type of fugitives are the ones who are non-violent in nature but are forced into hiding or running due to their strong ideas, beliefs, convictions, passions, commitments and their disapproval of the status quo.
Yes, history is witness to the fact that even peace loving and non-violent people have been forced to become fugitives and be on the run from their families and societies. These fugitives are not criminals, murderers, rapists or thieves and they might not even have broken any law or system. But they dare to challenge the status quo, they refuse to live within the web of lies and deceit prevalent in the society and they dare to question the logic and reason behind the prevalent laws and systems. And when their ideas, beliefs and way of life start to bother the society at large, they are labeled as radicals and rebels and a threat and danger to the society. And thus these people become fugitives not because of any violent or criminal activities but because they dare to walk the lonely road even when they are to walk alone.
Thus rather than giving up or compromising on their ideas, beliefs, convictions, dreams and aspirations, they prefer to sever ties with their society and live a life of recluse and thereby accept a fugitive’s life. These peaceful and non-violent fugitives would not repress their ideas, beliefs or convictions in order to remain accepted in the society. Living a fugitive’s life may be like a long lonely walk down a dark tunnel with no sign of light or life at the end. As one is away from the society, others get ample opportunities to label him/her as an outlaw, fugitive or even a criminal. But this fugitive is not at all bothered by what others may be saying because he believes he will be vindicated sooner or later in due course of time. He does not feel the need to reply or response to any of his critics or opponents because he does not believe in mindless arguments. His only focus is to live through the ordeal and come out alive, stronger, vindicated and all the more vibrant, richer and dynamic inside and outside.
These peaceful fugitives have time and again changed the course of human history. The people who sit at home, stay within their comfort zone and do the normal things to be labeled as good citizens of the society do not undergo any difficulty or trouble. But in due course of time they fail to leave any mark for themselves or the society. But a peaceful and non-violent man who has the guts to go the extra mile, to challenge existing systems, to remain true to his ideas, beliefs, dreams etc despite overwhelming challenges can ultimately become the fugitive who brings about worthwhile change in the society. Truth is known only unto God and if our ideas, beliefs, dreams and aspirations are noble and acceptable in the sight of God, we will be vindicated sooner or later. As the Holy Book of Psalms says “our cups will overflow and He will prepare a table for us in front of our enemies”.
Though David was anointed to be King of Israel, for many years he lived the life of a fugitive in the wilderness as the soldiers of King Saul chased and pursued him. In the meantime, David got chances to slay King Saul and become King himself but he did not do so because he knew that his time had not yet come. In other words, David was prepared to live the life of a fugitive as long as necessary rather than taking things into his own hands and spoiling what God had in store for him. He held on to the promise God had given him and continued to wander in the wilderness like a fugitive because he knew that he would be vindicated in due course of time.
Yes, there are real life heroes who might have been labeled as outlaws, fugitives or even criminals. But because of the noble and righteous cause for which they sacrificed and gave their lives, they continue to live on in the hearts and minds of many people. Though they might have lived all their lives away and could not come and face the society, they remained true to their conscience and never wavered from what they believed to be true and right. And in this way they change the course of history. So even though normally nobody would like to be labeled as a fugitive, I guess in a way we also need people who have the guts to embrace a fugitive’s life for good and noble causes. Even if you are to find yourself alone, even if there is no-one behind you, even if you are to be mocked as outdated and old-fashioned and as a radical, iconoclast or an extremist, if you are convinced of your ideas and beliefs and if you have the guts to be true to yourself, come out and be a fugitive and let God decide whom to vindicate and glorify.
The stories of peaceful fugitives who were on the run for their passions and convictions have always influenced and inspired me. By the grace of God, today I live in a rather peaceful environment, so luckily I don’t need to live the life of a fugitive all my life which would have been undoubtedly torturous for anyone. But whenever I get the opportunity to live a fugitive’s life even for a day, I readily accept and relish the experience. And for this I do not need to go and live in caves or jungles. I can be a fugitive even in my home or even by wandering anywhere. Yes, when I feel that my absence would do more good than my presence….I won’t mind becoming a fugitive and enjoying myself. I don’t believe in mindless gossiping, chattering or discussions that would not lead to anything worthy or good. So when people involve in these, I prefer to excuse myself and become a fugitive and enjoy myself and I certainly do not care at all what others may be saying about me. I have no inclination whatsoever for noisy and flashy parties, gatherings and get-togethers…..and so when these things happen I prefer to become a fugitive and be on the run and enjoy myself. I don’t care much what others may think or say about me as long as I continue to live my life on my own terms. After all I also have the “Right to Life” just like all other people. Moreover, I believe that our quietest moments could be our richest experiences because in our minds we are all free. Maybe these are some of the reasons why I have been a loner (or a fugitive if I may say so) in most situations. I also don’t believe in going to places where I am not wanted or needed and in such situations also I rather become a fugitive and enjoy myself to the optimum and let the society take care of itself.
Contrary to these thoughts and ideas of mine, I doubt whether most Naga youngsters of today would agree to live ‘the life of a fugitive’. Today we live in a society where all of us want to be in the ‘accepted’ category rather than the ‘rejected’ one. This is why we end up pursuing and doing almost anything that would guarantee us this. We are so scared of raising our voices against established systems even though we do not approve of it, we do many things just to stay accepted in the society without considering the pros and cons and thus we confine ourselves to living limited lives and fail to realize our full potential because we are so concerned about what others will think and say about us. So today I dare to say that we need people who have the courage and the will to become fugitives for the right cause and the right reason, let others say or gossip what they wish to say and gossip about us… but for us, let us live our lives with passion and conviction in what we believe to be true and noble…and let our Creator God be the one to decide whether one is really a fugitive or not…