Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Banquet Hall View

I once saw a Venus Fly trap. That, it’s a carnivorous plant, however fails to detract an onlooker's attention from its captivating beauty. Those violet tendrils snaking from its interiors execute a graceful arc, almost Victorian in nature, & puts to shadow its murky intent of trapping any unsuspecting insects in those cushy pods.

I was struck by the conflicting nature of the interpretation of an image and the truth that lay miscast beneath. It was the case of judging an alligator by the handbag made from it. Its apparent beauty would have never provided an inkling of the viciousness of the beast. Most of us sadly remain contended with the impression garnered from the handbag. They remain satisfied with a banquet hall view of life, one wherein comfort meets intellect and between the two fashion a world that apparently highlights the pinnacle of our progress.

Six years back, a tragedy shook the nation and six years hence, its repercussions, amongst other things, lifted that banquet view from my eyes. I would not get into the analysis of the right and wrong, the accused and the misrepresented of Godhra. We have had ample evidence of that, thanks to the likes of Tehelka and others. If there is one conclusion that can however be solidly evidenced from all reports, it is that the truth - the cold, factual, absolute truth has been banished in a dark corner shorn of any identity and recognition. Nobody would lay their hands on it in an era of Goebbelsian propaganda for each has a motive, allegedly far higher than adopting an orphan called truth.

What I however would like to highlight are two factors - namely, the media assuming the right arm of anarchy, and the state of a nation whose collective conscience could do with a much besought wake up call.

The much touted media of our nation could perhaps do well to revisit the roots in which its principles lie enshrined. The tenets of just and equitable coverage of events have been dispatched with such impunity that it makes one wonder just how sinister must the underbelly of such a system be, that could coerce an institution so mighty as the media to submission. In sync with the powers to be, they fanned the rage emanating from the smoldering ruins of an express train in 2002 by publishing graphic images and fanciful tales that could churn the knots of the stomach of even the most hardened veterans. What followed was unsurprising. 2000 Indians, mind you, not Muslims, Christians, Sikhs or Hindus, but Indians were massacred. 2000 lives were extinguished in an act of unparalleled savagery. Surely, no God would have permitted this. Surely, no conscience would have tolerated this. Then, how is it, that we, as a nation, one that is apparently recognized as a tolerant and progressive one, can live with this in our conscience?
Which brings me on to the second factor emerging from our "tolerant ambience".

I once walked on a street in Mumbai that served to be a microcosm of what Indians have become today. One side of the street sported a mansion of a hotel, resplendent as much in its splendor as in the ostentation of the guests thronging it. Across the other side lay a shack of hovels with rickety people scuttling about them and gathering fuel for their waiting chulhas. The stark antithesis of the two worlds lay in the utter lack of acknowledgement each had for the other. I suppose, while this particular case could perhaps be excused owing to the existing paradigms, what puzzles me the silence that seems to choke every sane mind in the face of events of the likes of the Godhra tragedy.

From brutal gang rapes of members of a community (Orissa) to daylight massacres of dalits (Khairganj), from inflammatory speeches that incite such blithe acts to the barbarism of its executions (everywhere) , the covers that clouded the shimmering hatred of each group (Its shameful to realize that we have degenerated into being just "groups") seems to be coming off and every ghetto is giving vent to their collective rage. We have seen all this and in what can be perhaps the most appalling transgression of justice, have chosen to remain silent about it. We chose to blind ourselves to the savagery of the state's machinations and in doing so gave the dogma "see no evil" & "hear no evil" an entirely new meaning, one, that its creator would have been profoundly ashamed of. Let no soul overlook the fact that when stripped of the layers of justification every leader, religious and/or political has applied to such dastardly acts, they remain in its basest form, remnants of the primeval human wants & needs satiated at the expense of innocence as well as, on a holistic basis, the progress of the state.

And yet, hope springs forth, alike a lonely geyser spraying atop a rocky plateau. In pockets, from outrage at the spurious claims made by the Nanavati commission, to the hundreds of unknown faces working tirelessly to apply the balm of love and care on those mutilated wounds, inflicted as much upon the psyche as on the skin, that nurse faint hopes of seeing the light of recognition or justice. We need to bolster these endeavors, for in a society that tethers on the brink of insanity, these acts of altruism are sonnets of peace that still bind the tag of civilization to our identity. And maybe, in the process, knock the banquet hall view of life off our eyes...


DJ said...

beautifully written da...i'm sure everyone who reads it... will pause and think....!!!!!
n ya i did read the whole blog..without fallin asleep.. ;)

sandy said...

Who said that our nictitating membranes have become vestigeal? In this evolutionary stage of ours it plays the spoilsport when truth glares at us with helpless eyes. With eyes wide open and by dropping the membrane we watch the happenings with numb nerves and our conscience snoring. We the mass practice the most malignant hypocrisy. Why? Because the ones who are causing the harm will still be able to give a reason, whether it's truly a reason or baseless stupidity is a different issue but we would only be qualified to give an unreadable face.

Abhijit said...

Callousness is a result of banging one's head against a wall repeatedly. sorry mate, it failed to touch me. probably much has been written about this and so did not find that spark which would keep me interested.