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