DISCLAIMER: this is a note written without any adequate research of any kind into the issues raised. one understands and accepts that a topic such as this deserves a more scholarly and polished, well-rounded treatment. if any reader is amused mildly, or alternatively, discontented deeply at the apparent naivete and lack of thorough ‘think-through’ that this note might exhibit, please excuse it as simply an exercise in writing something that appears and sounds “socially relevant” and displays the existence of “a social conscience” that my ‘generation’ seems to lack, as people say. iam told that writing of this sort is the fashion these days and i believe ‘when in rome….’ and all that.
How do i go about making you like me?
How do i go about the process of making myself accepted? How do i help you, your family, your peer group, your neighbourhood aunties, your society, your pets, your kids, your shopkeepers, your auto-drivers, your bus-drivers, your good-for nothing rich-cunt kids, your glue-sniffers, your pedophiles and your sodomisers, your unstoppable chowmein and libido-fuelled sons of unknown baaps, your unceasing army of MCs and BCs ages 6,16 and 69…how do i get them to like me? How do i make them accept me? How do i assimilate myself, the idea that is ME, the idea… no, the geographical, historical FACT that is the region and the culture i come from, into the great vibrant, always progressive, all-encompassing fabric that is your culture?
No…wait, back up, i might have got a little politically incorrect here.
What i want to be, is to BELONG, see? I want to be part of something big. I want to feel like I have a role to perform in the great big block-buster that is my country’s destiny, even if the role be that of the hapless sister who gets assaulted and then loses her voice and waits for her brother/father/someone to avenge her, while she idly lies in bed till the movie ends.
I do not care if i have to be a second-class citizen to belong. I do not care if my political, economic, industrial , educational, legal, constitutional needs are not being met as long as i achieve “emotional integration” with you. I do not care if my FIRs are not being registered when i am harassed(in some cases, murdered), if my landlords are beating me up on the slightest pretexts, if your shopkeepers and autodrivers are looking at every way they can fleece me off my money, i do not care if in a country that has been free and democratic for 65 years now, i could still be shot dead in my own home for absolutely NO reason, other than something called “national” security. I do not care if that concept of “nation” may or may not extend to where i stay, and that “security” you provide may or may not not protect me against my own “nation”’s army. I do not care that the words that i wrote in my school essays “india is a land of unity in diversity” are now very tenuously hanging on to a strand of reality that is stopping it from disappearing into the endless sea of myths and exaggerations that is India. I do not care that my history is never your history, that my heroes are never your heroes, that my tragedies, my floods, my bomb-blasts, my famines, my struggles are never yours. I do not care that in your version of Indianness, in your ideal Indian Face, my lips, my eyes, my nose, my ears, my hair, nothing finds a place. I do not even care that I do not find a place in the very Anthem that i stand up and sing so proudly every time i hear it. I mean, Sindh is not even IN India now, but hey, Bharat Bhagya Vidhaata.
I am grateful that you have always been sympathetic to my plight, that ‘your heart has always gone out’ to me, that you have always made sure the Rhino and the Cheraw and the Manipuri dance have always featured on Incredible India commercials. I am grateful that news about me comes up in the national newspapers every so often. It might be late, but it is something. After all, the opening of a primary school in Punjab, or the distribution of a thousand tubewells in Rajasthan is always more important news than ethnic genocides in Assam or three-month long road blockades in Manipur. I am proud of being part of a nation that rises up as one to deliver justice to the victims of communal riots in Gujarat, and hope fervently that I might get some closure on Nellie. It has been 30 years now. Nobody has even been charged with anything yet.
I am grateful that our sylvan and verdant surroundings, our exotic locales, our mysterious mountains and even more mysterious people have never been disturbed by the sound of industries being set up or infrastructure being created. I am grateful that you have always laid the greatest emphasis on the adage “self-help is the best help” and given my fellow brethren negligent opportunities for employment. We are a lazy lot, and we appreciate that you understand that and leave us to ourselves. It’s part of our “exoticism”.
I could give you so many other reasons, but now they do not come to mind. Suffice it to say, i want in. I want to be a part of your story. I want to be your disposable chess-piece, your bargaining chip vis-a-vis neighbours who you think(although you never say so)are more like us, with whom we belong more than with you, your “panauti”(as you might say), your Token Black.
So I will continue listening to your wolf-whistles, i will continue ignoring your unblinking stare on my legs, i will continue humouring your ‘innocent, unknowing’ query of whether me and my family have dogs for breakfast, i will continue benignly nodding to your implicit assumption of my loose morals, of my general untidiness and my all-around ill-fittedness to be a part of your exalted society, to be part of ANY civilised society.
Because i want to be integrated. I want to be assimilated. I want to be part of something big and powerful. Because i believe i can add a dash of colour to your monochrome lives, like a jester gambolling about in a king’s court. Take your big decisions. Make your big plans. All I want to do, is jump up on stage, every so often, make you smirk at my self-mocking jokes as i make a fool of myself, assure you that there is a class of citizenry that lies lower than the cesspool you have descended into, and then go right back into the darkness of ignorance and unimportance.
AH, but it’s a life worth living. So, what do i have to do to make you like me?