Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Let there be Peace..

This post has been selected,People!! :):)
Disclaimer: One hell of a long post! Read at your own risk! :)

The G and I saw 'Firaaq'(Nandita Das`s debut in direction) the other day. Apparently a work of fiction claimed to be inspired from a thousand true stories, 'Firaaq' tells the story of gruesome man-slaughtering, in a bid to rattle the conscience of the viewers and make them realize the horrendous crimes that took place in Gujarat in 2002. Now I am no film critic and
I`m not here to review the movie either. The reason I write this is because somewhere deep within, the fanatic in me stirs and I feel this overwhelming urge to connect.
I confess - it disturbs me - the fact that I am a Hindu fascist at heart(albeit in subtle forms). I confess that when Gujrat was burning, somewhere deep down, I did(even if for a micro second) have the thought that this wouldnt be happening if those 58 HIndu passengers on board the Sabarmati Express in Godhra werent roasted alive.
Am I in any way justifying this horrendous mass genocide? No way! Never ever! Such atrocities can never ever be condoned.
But In spite of rational thoughts and reasons, the thought did cross my mind, didnt it?
That`s how it is.
When I went to college, one of my closest pals was a boy called Adil. We were inseparable for a while. I was so completely smitten; he was the smartest guy I`d ever been with. My letters home were full of Adil and Adil and then some more.
"Dont you have any decent bengali boys in your class? How about Saikat?" my Mumma asked. She thought I was going overboard.
And so I made the first conscious turn of my life. Adil soon became history.
When I joined the Army, my closest pal was a boy named Jafar. He was my junior. But he was the only person I could relate to. He shared my passion of Ayn Rand, Che Guevara and the Pink Floyd. When he dumped his girl-friend of 5 years, a little voice inside me just wouldnt shut up. Outrageous as it sounds, I attributed his infidelity to his religious beliefs! The fact that I was in a war-torn zone where religious antipathy was overt, didnt help me any!
And so it went, little voices inside my head, grappling with what I thought I had to believe in and reaffirming time and again that those beliefs are right; those beliefs are justified.
One cant deny it. This feeling of antipathy against the other religion is mutual; lurking underneath; a thread so fine that all so often we might not even see it clearly. But it exists all the same. But you would expect one to rationalize one`s thought during the course of growing up.
I did not.
I allowed the thoughts of the previous generation, thoughts of a medieval society, thoughts of a degenerating democracy to be stashed into my brain.
Today when I see such darkness at noon, I realize that it is me and other people like me who are responsible for it. The chalice is poisoned and overflowing and we have allowed ourselves to sip from it,a hemorrhaging democracy laced with religious fascism. Like unadulterated Arsenic.
We have to stop before we kill ourselves.

'Firaaq' wasnt the only thing to have caught up with me this new year. When I was back home, I got addicted to the reality series of 'Big Boss'. The interplay of human nature is fascinating. But what got to me the most was how one of the contestants, in a fit of rage against another finalist, threw away food into the swimming pool. Everything - bread, milk,eggs, flour, vegetables, sugar, even tea. I dont know if the punishment(of going hungry for a day and preparing a meal for 15 children) was fit enough or whether the guy had the slightest regret for what he did. BUt it stunned me.
Did you know that 16,000 children die of hunger each day? One child every five seconds!!
In a world where morality in all its forms is slowly dying,we hide behind brittle carapaces where humanity itself seems mottled. Where and how do we even begin to make a change?

This time around when I was home, I realized that we had opened a new bank account for Mom(where Dad`s pension would be credited)in the month of May. It was November and she still hadnt received the Debit card for that account. I went to the bank and asked the authorized person about it. He handed me an enormous register and asked me to surf through the names in serial order to look for my mom`s name. And so I started. Going through numbers one to seven hundred and twenty seven(which took about 45 minutes because I had to decipher the hand-writing!), until I found Mom`s name. And yet I wasnt given the debit card, because the office runner was out for lunch and wouldnt be back for the next hour or so(he had the keys to the cupboard, I was told!).For a change, I wasnt fuming. I had expected something like this. Which set me thinking. Are we simply getting used to sloppiness? Have we become so used to inefficiency that nothing hurts our sensibilities anymore?

Yesterday, we completed nine whole months without Dad. Sometimes I wake up with a strange ache, longing to hear his voice just one more time. Oh! it`s been so long.. And sometimes it seems like yesterday; the pain still so raw, so fresh.
But I guess we`ll be fine. Sometimes when I hurt so bad, I think the pain will never end. It probably doesn't. And those are the times when I slash all the hurt inside me into tiny slivers of bitterness, scatter it all around my world and watch the people in it sear. And when I`m done, I`m on my knees collecting the charred remains. Smoldering fragments of past smiles and togetherness. Dying embers of burnt relationships. And ashes of past hope, now singed,dying.. And as I run around, trying to salvage the burnt remnants, I think of where I went wrong. And I think I`ll never get back my world again, the way it used to be. But I will learn to live with it. Someday I will. And then, I`ll be fine again. I`m sure I will.

Hello People,
I`m back.
And as I welcome the new year,I pledge to do my bit to make this world a better,happier,safer place.
And I start right now.
By leaving the past baggage behind. By forgiving people.
By being a better person. By being honest,sincere and happy.

Come join hands with me, as I pray for a better, happier and a more beautiful tomorrow. For you and for me.

Happy 2010, People! Let there be Peace!


Lakshmi said...

Happy New Year Piper. Glad to see you back.

My heart goes out to you about missing your father. Your few sentences pierce through my heart as well.

I do not have a stance on religious extremism. Somewhere along I got the idea that if I were in the same shoes as someone else, I would be doing the same things as they are now.

I would like to join you in welcoming peace into 2010.

Sunshine said...

yay ur back! its been sooo long! happy new yr to you!!

now on ur post...i think its very easy for us to slip into that feeling of antipathy against another religion mainly because its what we hear around us day-in & day-out...small traits which may relate to a particular person somehow manage to manifest itself onto the whole religion!

when i decided to move in with a very old friend of mine, a south indian - the first question my mom asked is how will u live with a south indian?? this despite the fact that my mom has known her closely for almost 15 yrs!!

so yea a lot of it is what we get as our 'viraasat' and a lot of it is then propagated by those around us...!

the only conscious solution out of this is to actively choose to not think in a particular way...to disregard thots which discriminate based on emotion and use our logic to help differentiate...

Sraboney said...

You're back - GREAT!

I admire your honesty - I couldn't have written what you have...

Renu said...

Very glad to see you back !

Your post touvches a chord somewhere in my heart, though I didnt like firaq, quite a biased version.

I would also like to join you I pray for a better, happier and a more beautiful tomorrow. For you and for me.

Happy 2010, People! Let there be Peace!

Fram Actual said...

The only benefit of getting older is that an individual has more experiences to digest and to benefit from through personal growth. You are doing fine, I see.

Have a good winter in Minnesota, Piper.

'A' said...

do you know..it's be a longggggggggggggg time since we've said hi. dropped in to wish you a very very happy new year, rather late but still from the heart. May this year be everything that you want and more. see you around

Reflections said...

Piper that was really frank...u've got guts maen;-)!!!!
Brought up in a country divided by religion, caste and language one has to be truly noble not to have impure thoughts about Others. Circumstances force man do many terrible, horrible things and so I wdnt ever presume to sit on a high horse & declare "I wd never do something like that".

Good to see u back:-))!!!! And have a wonderful year ahead!!!!

p.s: u've been awarded!!!!

Miss M said...

Happy new year Piper!!!

The best post I have read so far this year. Hones-to-God truth. :)

So soo glad to have you back!!! :)

Passionate Goof said...

Hi Piper, so happy to finally see you blogging again, i hope you keep the flow going. I had come here yesterday, and saw the post was long, and I did not have enough time in hand, so i decided to visit it later, and read it at leisure, and so i do it today morning. First off, your writing is amazing, you should try doing it professionally, esp the end where you write about cutting your pain up into bitterness and hurting those around you. I understand the emotion, but the way you have written it..... WOW! You are very deep woman!

The way you have spoken about how you feel about different religions here. Kudos to you woman. Every Indian has a bit of divide in his heart, the us and them thing. The pseudo show of secularism just annoys me to bits. The fact that you have accepted it, and want to change it is what really counts. If only more of us, could be as magnanimous and honest about our true emotions. I so agree with what 'reflections' says.

Sloppiness, and inefficiency, is just something Indians have learnt to accept as a part of their lives now, indeed it no longer bothers us!

I just wanted to hug you so tight towards the end of the post. So here, I am sending some virtual hugs, and lots of love and prayers your way!

Piper .. said...

Lakshmi: I know what you`re talking about. In fact, I have wondered often how I will behave if I ever get to be in a situation like what I was talking about..

Sunshine: Great to hear from you again, Kiddo! :):) and yes, a conscious effort is required. You`re bang on!

Sraboney: :):)I`m back, though I havent started reading my fav blogs yet :) will get to it soon. And I`m honored by your comment, esp because it comes from such a candid blogger like you..

Renu: So glad to see you here again :):) I of course have different views regarding Firaaq. May be I`ll discuss it in another post :) shall visit you soon. I`ve missed reading you..

Fram: Heyy, awesome to hear from you again! :) Well, I`m trying hard to enjoy the chill - whether I`m succeeding or not, is yet another issue :)

Piper .. said...

A: yes, babe!! A verrrrrrrry long time! How`ve you been? Shall visit you soon. I`ve so missed reading you :) It feels great to hear from you again!

Reflections: Oh Nancy, awesome to see you here again! Like I mentioned to Lakshmi, I have oft wondered whether I`ll manifest extremist behaviour of any kind, given the kind of situation I was talking about. It scares me because I dont know..
Thanks Much for the award. :) I didnt think anybody would remember me still :)

Miss M: Geez! you`re just being so kind!! :):) wonderful to see you back again!! Shall visit you soon. I`m realizing only now, how much I missed you guys :)

Passionate Goof: You embarrass me, woman! :) I cant even begin to tell you just how overwhelmed I feel right now,after reading your comment. Of course, it was you(and the tag) that got me back. I shall email you tomorrow. I`m yet to figure out the time difference and then we can maybe chat online. So much to catch up on. Until then, loads of love

Serendipity said...

Hi Piper. boy, am i glad to see u back.
first of all a HUGE hug.
I loved this post. it was captivating, heartfelt and really got me thinking..

Sraboney said...

Congrats on the Blogadda pick...

Anonymous said...

A very Happy New Year to you Piper. Love your resolutions... and I can relate to so much of what you have written... specially the longing to hear that one voice just one more time... Hugs.

Piper .. said...

Serendipity: Heyyy, great to hear from you! A hugeee hug to you too! Shall visit you soon.

Sraboney: Geez! thanks! I didnt even know about it, until I read your comment! :)

IHM: Heyyyy, so, so great to have you back here again :):) A verry happy new year to you too! I`ve so missed reading you! I`ll be visiting soon :):)

Smitha said...

Piper, Welcome back! It is so good to see you back! Happy New Year to you too!

I cannot imagine what you are going through, missing your father. Your words moved me to tears.

You have been so honest in the post. It takes a very honest person to even pen down all this. What you have written is probably inevitable, especially in a society like ours, where there are so many divisions.. Right from caste, region, religion.. I wonder how many of us would be truly untouched by all this..

Inefficiency in India, you are right, we seem to have gotten used to it. We are more likely to be surprised by efficiency. My parents when they moved to Kerala from Jamshedpur, they were pleasantly surprised to see that queries were answered by govt agencies - which never used to happen in Jamshedpur :) Efficiency was more surprising than inefficiency - which we had come to expect.

Passionate Goof said...

this post is picked. It had to be. It deserves to be!!

J P Joshi said...

Welcome back Piper and have a happy and peaceful new year.

A post from the heart - I believe the heart does not rationalise; it says it, as it is. It is so true about every human - we all have our prejudices, irrespective of where we live - these become subtler with more sophistication and better systems - yes, in India they are in your face every day.

Though things are improving in India - improvements in dealing with the government, and in the attitudes of common people will take much longer - we educated Indians are the problem, I believe. Is this because of the continuation of the age old caste system - through other means now?

Piper .. said...

Smitha: Thank you for the wonderful comment! I couldnt have put it better. You know, I have been thinking about visiting you guys, for the longest time now. I so miss reading you. Soon,I promise. Until then, lots of wishes for a peaceful new year!

Goof: :):) yipee! I didnt even know, until Sraboney mentioned!

JP Joshi Sir: Hello Sir! How wonderful to see you here again! :):) I know exactly how you mean.It may be a distorted manifestation of the caste system. A maid at my aunt`s place(who`s been there for the last 20 years!)was asked not come for work for a week during her son`s marriage - the reason being that the aged relatives might not approve of a Muslim maid in anywhere near the 'puja sthan'!! The girl was devastated!
The sad part about being honest is that people judge you :) I guess that`s the price I have paid :)

Amrita said...

Welcome back dearest!! Wonderful and candid thoughts.... Even made me think--- at some level i too harbor the same thoughts. You held the mirror......

Hope u have a good year ahead.

Piper .. said...

Amrita: Heyy..great to see you here again! :):) I`ve so missed reading all of you.

Mystic Margarita said...

Congrats, Mish! :) Lovely post. I got back on the 12th and fell ill right after. Will be back more regularly once I'm better. Keep writing till then :)

Amrita said...

Hey u been awarded :)

Deeps said...

Mish,its great to read you again. I agree with most of the commenters here. hats off to your honesty,Mish.

Yes,here I join you in wishing and praying this year turns out better,happier and more beautiful than the years goneby :)

LOts of hugs to you :)
Congratulations on the blogadda pick!
Now please dont vanish from the blogging scene....its my turn now ;)

Anonymous said...

((hugs))and more hugs for such honesty ...you have a way with words Piper..you do...you and MM (mammamiameamamma) are two people who write so beautifully...in this manner thats gut wrenching at times...soul stirring at others...

we are human beings..all of us...the prejudices are part of us whether we accept it or not...but realization is half the work done I believe...
I too grapple with such thoughts at times...with my own biases...
its a thin line....trying to maintain one's, balance is really,really tough...

(hugs) for everything that you have written here...:)