The news headlines over the last few days and weeks from India have helped push me over in to the dark side. I have always… always been so proud of India’s pluralism and tolerance. Values which are under threat now. They have always been challenged, but I personally don’t remember such a concerted effort by a segment of our populace to question the very bedrock of our identity. I am a Hindu and am very proud of my culture. I love it in all its multi-layered, passionate, chaotic glory. But I realize that just like Christianity and Islam can be interpreted and misinterpreted according to someone’s convenience, so can Hinduism. The injustices are piling up and we, as a nation and its people, have been staying mute for too long. I fear that somewhere, just like with global warming, on a more micro level, we as a nation are reaching tipping point. This is not about politics and who is in power. In my opinion all parties are equally f*@*^£d. But this is about what we as citizens expect from our government, our administrators and our political parties – be they in power or not. This is about our responsibility. Most of us are not in a position to do anything that is going to change or effect the powers that be, but we are in a position to voice our dissent, to comment, to post and argue and discuss. Maybe it is time to devote our energies not just to the latest on Netflix and the bullshit being doled out in the name of entertainment (in print and other forms of media). Maybe it is time to hold ourselves accountable and treat our great freedom with more responsibility. Maybe it is time to live with more intention.
Forgive me. I am in a crap mood and feeling bloody blue. If you are in the mood for some more of the above but in verse form, read on…
My eyes are damp.
I had thought my tears had run dry
All those years ago,
When pictures of carnage
Had covered the sheets
Of my ink-stained mornings.
Deep in the south
The blood was not shed,
Nor wars fought
But the body hurt
No matter where the cut.
The magic surrealism of childhood
Has been replaced by bomb shred
Headlines of my teen.
I remember with amazement
The day the headlines said
‘No one died
due to bombs today!’
Twenty years on
I realize that they always lied.
Time does not move on.
It always stays right there….
For believing that
Life moves on.
It only goes on.
The hands that lobbed bombs
The bombs themselves
We live in a world
Where progress and success
Are the new, and sadly, only keys.
Ideas like freedom and liberty,
Tolerance and safety
Seem to be old-fashioned values
For the civic books.
The pride with which I could naively say –
“Ah! But in my country I have
Freedom of thought and speech!”
Has now been replaced by
Fear, shame and a cynicism
That runs deep.
A wrong word, notion or meal plan
Can result in your face being blackened
Or something more fatal.
You may wake up one day
To find that
Your trusted neighbour’s hand
Wields the rod that breaks
I remember Bilqis and her pain.
I shake with terror
Imagining the pain
She a woman, a wife and a mother
Watching young girls being raped
Her husband being hunted
And her three year old killed.
Thinking after every murder, every horror,
Every riot, every rape and every attack,
Every explosion and fire –
This is it.
Things will change.
It cannot go on like this.
It will change.
I no longer hold on to that hope.
As today’s beef murder headlines
Wrap the fried snacks of tomorrow,
As war veterans are replaced by writers,
Our byte hungry world will always
Find something new.
And we the ultimate consumer
Will move from one headline
Just like we change our
Mobile phones and their covers.
We, like butterflies, will flit and float
Rendered utterly meaningless,
Because the very methods we use to cope
Spell the end of all hope.
13 October, 2015