This wasn’t what I wanted to write about!

“What kind of times are these, when 
To talk about trees is almost a crime 
Because it implies silence about so many horrors?”

– Bertolt Brecht

 

I started writing this post yesterday. In the notepad of my head, that is.  

I began by writing about my walk around the park, about the nostalgic scent of neem trees in full bloom, about the elderly couple I pass by every morning. I wrote about how the bench under the ‘poovaaka’ tree I was planning to sit on had come apart, and how I then decided to sit on a pink bench under the canopy of pink bougainvilleas that would contrast so nicely with my blue tracksuit. About the neat back-view of the Filipino lady who cycled past me in a snugly fitting grey and purple suit. Things like that.

You know what I mean – the good stuff. I had even taken a bunch of photos to go with the post, including that of a white-with-black-patches catperson who had stretched out languorously on a bench. 

But that was yesterday morning. 

Yesterday morning, much before the shockwaves of the details of eight-year-old Asifa Bano’s rape and murder hit the news. Before the comments from people who justified it, and the tweets that started with what about when— began to rise in yellow, bilious waves from the fault line of my stomach. Yesterday, while I still had the satisfaction of having taken a stand on some of the things that I should have, long ago, basking in the afterglow of having stood up to some well-meaning people. People I am otherwise fond of, who keep trying to convince me about the greatness of Hinduism and the need to protect it from malicious forces. Can’t you see? they keep asking me. 

I can’t. And yesterday I told them that. 

I used to not respond at first, silence being golden and all that. Then one day I decided that this was not the time to remain quiet. So I began to go to great lengths to explain why I disagreed with their sentiments. And shared whatever solid pieces of evidence I came across, to support my argument. See, this is what I’m trying to tell you.

This despite knowing that I would get thrice the number of what I had sent. And you see what we are trying to tell you!

It has taken me a while to register that there are doors to human minds which remain shut to logic and reason.

I was still naive, though. So I decided to out. Let’s not talk religion or politics, ok? I typed. I can never agree with you on these matters. To my pleasant surprise, our decision to agree to disagree was made amicably. I felt damn proud of myself for finally standing up to them. Because you see, for all my opinionatedness, I do have a fear of hurting the sentiments of those I respect. Or is it the residue of a latent fear of authority? Freud would know.

Last night though, I broke the mutually agreed-upon disagreement by bringing their attention to the sheer evil behind the abduction of an eight-year-old girl by some senior guardians of the law and religion who had kept her inside a DEVI TEMPLE (Oh god!) and repeatedly drugged and gang-raped her before wresting her life out in unimaginably barbarous ways. And those waving our national flag in support of the perpetrators.  I didn’t exactly ask, Can’t you see what’s happening? Because I was sure they would.

Now I stand corrected. Stripped of my illusions. 

Because today I am asked why there was no such outrage when Hindu girls were raped.  What about when– I am asked. Why only for this? I reply that I cannot believe that they are saying this, given the circumstances. But we are talking about the—

Stop being one-sided! I am told. 

One-sided. As if there are subtleties to child rape and murder that I am incapable of understanding.

I give up. Even my 3KM morning walk has not given me enough endorphin and serotonin to keep going. Maybe I should have stuck to our agreement and not talked religion or politics.

You should have! Now stop sharing your one-sided sentiments. 

I’m stopping. Here. Now. Maybe there’s nothing quite as impenetrable as those doors that are locked and keys thrown away. Doors to human minds.

***

This was not what I had wanted to write about. Even when I sat at my laptop a while ago, this was not what I had as topic of the day. I had still meant to write about my sanity walk, the sight and sounds thereof, and the high that it all gives to my menopausing self. Really. That was the intention I had started out with.

But how can I get rid of the image of light dying in a smiling pair of large, eight-year-old eyes from my mind? Or the overwhelming sense of defeat I feel in being able to do anything about it – not even convince those close to me.

Screen Shot 2018-04-13 at 12.02.36 PM

Photo courtesy: https://twitter.com/kalkikanmani

 

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9 thoughts on “This wasn’t what I wanted to write about!

  1. What is so shocking, apart from the horrific crime, is the defense of the offenders. As a Westerner of non-Indian origin I have been following this because I have so many Indian friends and a high content of news from India in my newsfeed. But I can’t help but think that the story has had no resonance in Western media because there is this extended reluctance to see Muslim as victims. As one piece I read about this case pointed out—a child is not Muslim or Hindu, a child is a child. What have we come to? Or is “civilized” ever more than a myth? Anywhere?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish I had an answer, Mini. There’s a growing moral vacancy in our political leadership, I’m afraid. But we can’t afford to be quiet. This may not be the post you wanted to write, but it was the only one could write. I can’t carry your pain, but I can walk beside you as a friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautifully expressed, Mini. This is a disease rotting away our society today- this communalism. And like it or not, the mask on it was removed in the recent years. Now it is proudly, unapologetically displayed. Indoctrination?

    I have just one request- do not be silent. Continue to be a proud, compassionate , humane person, descended from generations of such people. Reclaim Hinduism from the stranglehold of Hindutva.

    I used to be an ordinary nonpolitical woman, slightly left leaning but that was it. Now I cannot be silent; the silence of the great Indian middle class shocks me. They think it is not happening to them, so it is okay. The studied indifference is galling.
    Do not quit, my friend.

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    1. Thank you, Sylvia.

      Indoctrination? Probably. More a kind of licensing – the license to kill, loot, lynch, rape… In the name of religion, protecting purity, whatever the excuse is.

      The thought that haunts me is this: Hitler was one person, but he could wreak so much damage because he managed to unleash the evil (I can’t think of a euphemism for that, really) that, till then, lay dormant in his followers. Think Nazis, think Joseph Mengele and his likes.

      I dread that something similar is happening in our country. And it’s scary. The worst thing about a few such people in power is, they appeal to the basest instincts in the masses, unleashes it, and then it spreads like wildfire.

      At least this is my theory.

      But why do the seemingly ‘good’ people not see beyond religion? I’ve been seeing a different side of many people I thought I knew to be sensible, humane, compassionate. Why is religion so much more important that the human beings it is meant for?

      What is the ‘other side’ of the gang rape and brutal murder of an eight year old that one is supposed to see? How can the fact that other rapes did not raise so much furore take away from the horror of this one?

      I don’t understand. And it breaks my heart.

      So, like you said, I’ll do what little I can to protest. In writing, in speaking up, in supporting the right kind of people… Any which way I can. That way at least I’ll have the satisfaction of having tried.

      Quitting is not an option.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My thoughts, exactly.
        Many people I know find nothing wrong in the present state of affairs. This scares, shocks and appalls me. Nothing changes their mindset. The lies get exposed, but not to them. The bogeyman of Pakistan is kept alive. As if Pakistan has the resources and military might! Us and them is foremost in people’s minds in India today. This definitely did not happen in the last four years. It WAS there.
        As someone who left religion a long time ago, all this escapes my comprehension.

        Thank you for your words. Be well. At least we tried.

        Like

  4. The world is not a pretty place. And when people’s empathy is repeatedly abused by politicians and media barons they react in seemingly heartless ways. You and many others are suffering from affectations that have been imposed on you by forces greater than you and for reasons best known to them. I recommend you read this piece, https://medium.com/@vamseejuluri/anguish-and-affectation-advertising-and-appropriation-a-call-to-action-954a06114453

    Like

    1. Interesting word, affectation. And equally interesting is the fact that someone has taken so much time, trouble and effort (I’m yet to read fully, I admit) to philosophise on something like this.

      Is it because an educated approach might work where emotional rants fail? Or because words are the best places to bury slow-release messages?

      (The questions above are rhetorical, no answers expected.)

      But dear sir, no greater force imposed anything on me – I feel what I feel about what has happened, and I chose to *write* about what I feel because that’s my primary mode of expression.

      The world certainly is not a pretty place, else I would’ve written about the pretty things that I see around me, right?

      You have your set of rights, wrongs and beliefs, and I have mine. The twain don’t seem to meet. So let’s leave it there.

      Like

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