Remember Part 2

The news headlines over the last few days and weeks from India have helped push me over in to the dark side. I have always… always been so proud of India’s pluralism and tolerance. Values which are under threat now. They have always been challenged, but I personally don’t remember such a concerted effort by a segment of our populace to question the very bedrock of our identity. I am a Hindu and am very proud of my culture. I love it in all its multi-layered, passionate, chaotic glory. But I realize that just like Christianity and Islam can be interpreted and misinterpreted according to someone’s convenience, so can Hinduism. The injustices are piling up and we, as a nation and its people, have been staying mute for too long. I fear that somewhere, just like with global warming, on a more micro level, we as a nation are reaching tipping point. This is not about politics and who is in power. In my opinion all parties are equally f*@*^£d. But this is about what we as citizens expect from our government, our administrators and our political parties – be they in power or not. This is about our responsibility. Most of us are not in a position to do anything that is going to change or effect the powers that be, but we are in a position to voice our dissent, to comment, to post and argue and discuss. Maybe it is time to devote our energies not just to the latest on Netflix and the bullshit being doled out in the name of entertainment (in print and other forms of media). Maybe it is time to hold ourselves accountable and treat our great freedom with more responsibility. Maybe it is time to live with more intention.

Forgive me. I am in a crap mood and feeling bloody blue. If you are in the mood for some more of the above but in verse form, read on…

My eyes are damp.

I had thought my tears had run dry

All those years ago,

When pictures of carnage

Had covered the sheets

Of my ink-stained mornings.

Deep in the south

The blood was not shed,

Nor wars fought

As often.

But the body hurt

No matter where the cut.

The magic surrealism of childhood

Has been replaced by bomb shred

Headlines of my teen.

I remember with amazement

The day the headlines said

‘No one died

due to bombs today!’

Twenty years on

I realize that they always lied.

Time does not move on.

It always stays right there….

Mocking us

For believing that

Life moves on.

It only goes on.

The hands that lobbed bombs

Have changed.

The bombs themselves

Have changed.

We live in a world

Where progress and success

Are the new, and sadly, only keys.

Ideas like freedom and liberty,

Tolerance and safety

Seem to be old-fashioned values

For the civic books.

The pride with which I could naively say –

“Ah! But in my country I have

Freedom of thought and speech!”

Has now been replaced by

Fear, shame and a cynicism

That runs deep.

A wrong word, notion or meal plan

Can result in your face being blackened

Or something more fatal.

Worse still,

You may wake up one day

To find that

Your trusted neighbour’s hand

Wields the rod that breaks

Your back.

I remember Bilqis and her pain.

I shake with terror

Imagining the pain

She a woman, a wife and a mother


Watching young girls being raped

Her husband being hunted

And her three year old killed.

I remember…

I remember…

Thinking after every murder, every horror,

Every riot, every rape and every attack,

Every explosion and fire –

This is it.

Things will change.

It cannot go on like this.

It will change.

I no longer hold on to that hope.

As today’s beef murder headlines

Wrap the fried snacks of tomorrow,

As war veterans are replaced by writers,

Our byte hungry world will always

Find something new.

And we the ultimate consumer

Will move from one headline

To another

Just like we change our

Mobile phones and their covers.

We, like butterflies, will flit and float

Through life

Rendered utterly meaningless,

Because the very methods we use to cope

Spell the end of all hope.

Binu Sivan

13 October, 2015


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