Vital Voices: Creating society where each individual gets deserved human status
Asifa...the name rang into my ear so loud that it’s din dimmed everything else.
Asifa…the name rang into my ear so loud that it’s din dimmed everything else.
To hold on to dear sanity I took a recluse in the company of friends. After feeding on sweet nothings of gossip, I further tried to satiate the emotional vacuum by embarking on an extraordinary shopping spree. It was as if I was trying to assure my soul that what had happened was not true, and even if it was true I was safe from the glaring jaws and claws of the wolves in the guise of man. I wanted some comfort…something which could calm my troubled mind and I did not know how. I did not want to think because I knew where my thoughts would lead me. Perhaps it was this restlessness which made me swipe one shopping site after another later that night as I was gripped by an unknown fear even in the safe sanctuary of my home. I waited for sweet slumber but sleep was slow in coming.
As I opened my eyes to a brand-new day I thought I had left behind the grotesque event in the past. Every day I stressed my arms to be message from laziness before opening the crisp newspaper neatly placed in the side of my morning tea platter. I glided through the headlines and there it was. Another 10 years old raped and inflicted with 86 injuries till she passed into the oblivion of death. I quickly folded the newspaper as if by doing so I could evade the reality. My condition was like a stranded Pigeon which closes its eyes on a cat approaching it, believing that by not looking at the danger it had vanished the cat from existing.
My reaction was not solely my fault for this is what I was taught from childhood. I had grown up listening to the merits of tolerating everything meekly so much that I had started believing that ‘Tolerance is virtue’. It was reiterated so often ,at so many places, by so many people that especially for a girl tolerance was like Aladdin’s magic carpet through which she could fly out and above every situation unscathed. To have an opinion was not allowed here, to ask for reasons was sassing with the elders and worst still was to have a mindset of your own. If you could think sensibly you were in grave danger of being mistaken as mad.
Thus caught in the vicious thoughts I was soon enveloped in the miasma of despair arising out of hopelessness. I tried against my grain to tolerate the unjustifiable happenings around me. My idle mind was difficult to be harnessed so I sought recluse in the lee of God’s home. Now here I need to mention that for me the Church, the Temple, the Mosque, the Gurudwara all are God’s home and offer the same quantum of relief to me. I am inflicted with that strange disease where I fail to remember the surname of individuals.
As I sat in the tranquil surroundings I saw a baby girl picking up dregs of food offered to the God from the floor and putting it into mouth. I laughed at the difficulty she had in popping the morsels of food pinched between her pink fingertips into her mouth. I gestured her to come near me. The nonchalance of the baby as it scooched over by my side and gave it’s plump hand into mine hit me like a blow. I wondered what sort of people could not see a child as the purest and most beautiful form of human life but merely as the object for satiating their carnal desires. This made me remember that the eight-year-old was detained in a Devi-sthan Temple and I suddenly started feeling nauseous and left for home with my clairvoyant thoughts.
As I struggled hard to focus on the road ahead of me my mind kept flashing the phrases I had grown up listening to. As a kid I remember raped actresses in the movies saying meri izzat loot li, (my honour has been plundered), I remember my mother telling me assiduously that a girls honour is like morning dew, so delicate and so easily lost that once it is lost it can never be retrieved.
As rationalism dawned(inspite of a thousand conspiracies to crush it), I often wondered how the honour of an entire clan, full of burly men who had the prowess to mould innumerable females to their whims and fancies, depend upon a vagina. They said they wanted sons to take family name forward so I wondered how the same family name depended upon a daughter and could be tarnished even if there was no fault of her. The honour of the girl was violated when the one behaving in the most disgraceful way was the man coercing himself on her.
Though there was some relief when I noticed the replacement of ‘Izzat loot li’ by rape over the past few years. I was mistaken that it was a harbinger of change. The euphoria did not last long because the feudal patriarchal mindset manifested itself in the grotesque way the eight -year-old was abducted, gang raped and finally strangled to death to deter the family from entering the village. The violation was not yet over. It continued at every step in the callous approach of those whose duty was to safeguard, in the rallies in favour of the accused, in the way the whole matter acquired a religious colour, and the political sensitisation of the matter.
My heart ached as the hopelessness started clenching me yet again. I looked around myself for hope and all that I could see were accusing fingers, people blaming each other because of religious differences, political parties accusing others and last but not the least common people accusing the government. The apathy of the ruling populace cannot be condoned but it has now become like the most convenient subterfuge every time something goes wrong. This shunning of moral responsibility in part of both the ruler and the ruled is perverting the heart of the society. It is the role of any responsible government to take exemplary punitive actions in such cases but what cannot be overlooked is that the crime are being committed by common people not very different from us. What is more terrifying is such felonies being committed by people educated people which clearly stressed the lack of education in the multiple literates. What else is to be expected when we have such example as the convict of the much talked about Nirbhaya case getting acquitted on the basis of a lacuna in the law.
The perverted mindsets with their degenerate thinking feed upon such cases and gain complacency every time a proven criminal gets acquitted because of lack of evidence or some similar ground. As we sip tea or coffee watching Superfast hundred on Non-Stop 50 news or fold the newspaper with a cold sigh or serf up the Internet believing the happenings around us are too distant to ever affect us, it is perhaps time we remind ourselves that what is happening to others can also happen us anytime. Its about time that humanity becomes the national religion and we remind ourselves that ‘united we stand, divided we fall.’
The sacking of the Kerala man by Kotak bank due to the public backlashing is proof that public opinion does matter. What is important now is to realise that we as individuals exist and existence is not about subsistence. Only then will the political parties will rise above the politics of appeasement and instead of pandering to the religious biases pay heed to the much needed national development which concerns the common man. It will not be an exaggeration to say that tolerance is no longer a virtue. It’s just an excuse to be cocooned by our mundane lives.
The people are a reflection of any country and to quote Rabindranath Tagore “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high…Where the world has not been broken up into fragments…Where words come out from the depth of truth”, let us be such a society and make sense and sensibility our vital voices get heard and each individual gets the deserved human status.