‘Alarming’ was the first word that ran through my head when I saw the mail that was sent to my official college email ID. The incident in question was brief and simple- A few of my seniors were playing poker outside the library on the lawns at around 7 pm. The party included a couple of girls as well. Apparently, a female faculty who passed by saw the scene, was ‘distressed’ at the happenings and asked them to stop the game. Few curt words and warning lines later, all of them returned to their respective hostels, heads bowed down. Next day, all of us received a mail from the same faculty, who quoted the same incident but stressed duly on the fact that what she found disturbing was the presence of girls. Like, how could that happen? What is happening to our culture? What could happen to our culture? What was our...Blah blah blah. She went on to quote some incidents from newspaper articles on how girls who party hard were assaulted and mistreated. I refused to read any more of it. The retard-‘ness’ was suffocating.
No Indian would forget the much hyped BBC documentary ‘India’s daughter’. Apart from the unnecessary publicity it harboured, the content in itself was stunning, to be honest. The interviews and opinions that were put forth by the personnel involved, shocked our intellect. On one hand we had the victim’s parents- poor and “uneducated”, who, contrary to popular expectations, made sure their only girl child was schooled. Instead of considering her as a burden to their impoverished shoulders, they nurtured her dreams and let her grow. They let her live in India’s capital city in the hope that one day she’ll save them from poverty and make them proud. It would have definitely happened, but… we all know what happened. Now unfortunate as the incident was - the worst part was when the barristers representing the rapists (read beasts) came on air. Solely blaming the victim, they went on to claim that this was an avoidable scenario – only if the girl was a bit more tactful/ discreet/ god-knows-fucking- what. Gritting my teeth and controlling my urge to throw things at my own screen, I wondered how foolish the guy sounded when he was making poetic metaphors – calling a girl a flower and how easily it can be destroyed. When I thought the first guy was probably not serious and would have been around for some comic relief (ironic and wry like the Porter scene from the great Macbeth, now that we are talking literature), there came another. This hero of all mankind and flag bearer of Indian culture claimed, on international tele, that he’d burn his daughter- yes, daughter and yes burn – if she was seen going around with a boyfriend. For the sake of everyone involved, I pray to the almighty that he’s not blessed with a girl child ever.
I am not sure what educated means anymore. Does it refer to how fast you can solve a differential? Or is it about how easily you can come up with a synonym for a twenty letter word? I’m no theorist on intelligence but that seems a little off. If you are blessed with the good fortune of being schooled and have enough means to earn a degree and earn a job, isn’t there a minimum responsibility to give something back to the society? By being ignorant of its myriad functioning, aren’t you being arrogant and unworthy of your good luck? We shouldn’t allow excuses of being unaware nor give those to save us from uncomfortable situations. One should take the bold step to go forward and face the consequences, if it so happens. When we root for logic and sharpness and progress and God knows what, aren’t we forgetting that one thing that makes us different from the other four-limbed creatures that roam the jungle - emotions? Sympathy, empathy? Or have we reached that stage where it’s too clichéd to think for others and be considerate? Has it become unbecoming? I do not know. Shouldn’t we learn to teach ourselves how to consider the state of the people who are behind us in many ways? If they are reacting, thinking, speaking or acting in a particular way isn’t it because of how they were raised? So, unlike the case of the educated going haywire, this could well be a case of lack of opportunities. One must be careful and not be so quick-handed while passing judgements on illiterate, poor and the backward sections of the society.
Who do you think is happier- the rich lady next door who owns seven cars and never repeats her clothes, but always complains on every damn thing or your maid who is proud that her son goes to the local school and sings while she works around the house? The answer is very simple. I’m no big fan of Mother Teresa, but there’s one thing she said while accepting her Peace Nobel, when someone asked her how to ensure World Peace- “Go home and love your family”. Probably the wisest words ever spoken. That is where we ought to begin, because not only charity, but education also begins at home.
Photography By: Ved Dubhashi