Sunday, February 22, 2009

nationality for namesake

The power of the masses is a force to reckon with... I learnt this little fact eons ago. A fact that is reiterated by the likes of the pink chaddi campaign and how it brings together people from across borders to unite and stand against outdated, myopic and ludicrous behavior.

I am no the chances of hitting a writer's block, is shall I say fractional. I am just a very disturbed soul who is haunted by the gory picture of a smashed human skull flashing might I add, with surprising regularity through my mind. For someone living in a cosmo city, where life is a breeze, discomfort bearable, ignorance can truly mean bliss. It takes a fruitcake of a politician who screams bloody murder at the thought of the prevalent “Pub Culture” or a power hungry kook who blocks morning traffic to wake us up momentarily...Enter the "Save our City" campaigns which are splashed on the front page of every known newspaper. Public outrage, social forums and a few heated discussions later, a point is driven home, thanks to the awareness generated by our media crusaders.

It took a simple, innocuous act such as befriending my fellow countrymen from the North East (Manipur), for me to realize that my perception of life was somewhat altered. To begin with, for someone who is seemingly intelligent, my ignorance about this entire region was laughable. My initial excuse however, was that my geographic knowledge was sadly neglected and I was none too proud of it. So I can hardly blame my college friend, an Indian (South) for the past 28 years at that, for assuming Manipur was in fact part of Burma !

After hours of debate, discussions and introspection, I finally see what makes these people who they are. You think bumping cars was a fun idea to live by as a child? Try the whizzing of bullets that ricochet across surfaces and dangerously miss your face. Or the feel of the cold hard muzzle against the base of your brain while you are cycling back home from school with childlike abandon. Or the hurried manner where parents alert children to take cover within thin walls of their homes at the sign of a shoot out not 10 feet away from you. Or women raped and shot at the crotch by the very army stationed there for their protection.

To an untrained eye this might well look like a decadent society. But only the wise can see the hidden grief in those midnight eyes for having exited to safer zones away from their homeland. The guarded expression, the wary smile, and a gaze that has seen all too much- wishing to turn back time when days were spent in laughter and merriment and nights under the clear diamond studded skies watching the tribal fire glow within the hills spreading warmth as the fog rolls in.

What is baffling is how a huge formidable country such as ours can outcast an entire region and get away with it, with such ease? Non existence of a Railway System at this day and age?? How can a country boast of cultural integration across the entire stretch of the land and yet suffer from such a massive case of Blindspot?? More importantly a country that has for years kissed up to outsiders and suffered inequities would actually dish out such step mom treatment to one of their own is a tragedy. What takes my breath away, is that despite the presence of such a strong communication plexus built across the nation, as laymen, we never get to so much as hear a pipsqueak about these travesties.

Which brings me to my reason for writing this piece. Half my dinner downed, my Manipuri friend passes out an email image of a Manipuri government servant (Kishen) brutally murdered along with his driver and staff. Bludgeoned to death with a spade, the mangled remains of his face looked on disproportionately with a silent plea to end this disparity...this needless war. The agitation building amongst his fraternity is understandable, as not one national television channel covered the brutal story. Not one seemed to know the Whats or the Whys. Not one crusader to spread the message. Not a tiny effort to save the day, or what's left of it. Is this what it really boils down to? Can we not as one nation dissolve man made borders and boundaries and fight for what really matters? Voice out towards these brutal acts...stand up united, and instep with our fellow countrymen, caste, colour, origin aside? Use the power of the digital age to spread the message around?

And we wonder why the sense of belonging is amiss in them? Why they fight for their own freedom and identity? ...Why being Indian doesn’t exactly make them tip their hats with pride? Nationality for Namesake...that’s what I’d call it.