Happened to be reading an Amar Chitra Katha this evening. I usually read and re-read most of the titles I have. Just picked one off my shelf and found the title on Velu Thampi, one of the first freedom fighters of India hailing from Kerala. Its impossible to shake off the feeling that builds in my stomach after reading their lives, exploits, the things they did for their rulers and their land, the country and their sacrifices. Have been watching a lot of movies lately, some great suggestions thanks to a friend of mine and its truly amazing how some movies can alter your perception and open completely new windows to a new horizon. And just like that, I happened to watch Lions for Lambs. Maybe this feeling of despondency, the feeling of being taken for a ride by our own rulers today, exists in every country. The news channels are rumoured to be controlled by politicians themselves like a lot of films lead us to believe and it does kinda make sense. The media make us look at things in a certain way and also, I have come to believe, condition us to look at things a certain way, in a way they want us to believe. Yes, I agree there are things that the common man need not know, just like in an organization, what happens in a board meeting is not something that a common employee can or need be privy to. Strategies happen at several different levels apparently. There are things that are beyond our understanding and there needs to be - I would like to presume here - a superhuman level of intelligence to run a certain type of an organization, be it an NGO, a Private Ltd Company, a Political party or even a country.
There are people who would like to raise a voice and do something to make a change, or a journalist refusing to buy the story that a politician throws him, like the one so brilliantly portrayed by Meryl Streep in the film (Lions for Lambs), but what she perhaps feels and undergoes, or what I think and perceive her to be undergoing would be exactly where I am right now. And where so many people in our country are. Maybe throughout the world. The fire is there in each of us and it is also as easily and commonly extinguished by well wishers, people who have already been there and tried to do all that, newspapers which so easily feed us the stories of disaster and trials that people that raise a voice go through and we follow our judgment to leave all these higher ideals alone and settle to a life of comfortable routine and emotionless existence. But somewhere embers remain, ready to burst into flames. And by emotionless I mean the lack of emotion or the attachment that is toward our land.
Reading that they are going to be handing out auto permits to anyone and everyone gives a sense of dread and happiness at the same time. Dread that the traffic is going to be worse. Happiness that perhaps the permits will (maybe) finally be out of the clutches of all these unions and politicos who run the rumored auto mafia, giving a feeble hope that there might finally be some good men who will drive those yellow contraptions better and be better citizens on the road.
Bagha Jatin, Veer Savarkar, Velu Thampi how many that loved our land so much and wished that the generations in the future would wake up to the skies over a free motherland. How many women committed Sati and Jauhar. How many women took up arms. A lot of times I feel that we are all a pack of ungrateful wretches. I wish those leaders could return. And there are more times now, than any other that I wish that they would come back. To knock the sense back into our skulls and teach us discipline that we have found convenient to forget. We don't even seem to have a simple civic sense and sense of duty. Its possible that you, who are reading this post would be different, having the same angst as I am (considering that we are the more 'educated', informed, wishing for and becoming the change, in ourselves and others).
I cannot believe the number of times an auto, even a BUS (!!!) has run into so many people in a one way by coming from the wrong side, bus drivers whose new hobby is to scare women drivers / two wheeler riders as if they are about to run into them, and then laugh over it, cars that come in your lane, but from the opposite side. Then we are told to open our eyes and drive. What the hell I feel like asking. I follow the rules and still I have to pay? God forbid an accident does happen, I have to pay nonetheless and so will my insurance company for no fault of mine. Worse if a traffic policeman comes in to "set things right" bribing begins to happen or so they say. I haven't been in a situation like that before and I sincerely hope and wish I do not. There is a chance that I won't take nonsense and I might have to 'pay' for my sense of righteousness or smartness or whatever it is. Roads are perhaps at their worst today. And it could be worse.
I wish this country could change to be one where religion is not propagated and sold like a commodity. Offering juicy baits to increase numbers and at times these baits are emotional well being. How many people get played. All because we as had become foolish enough to give in to our mammoth egos and let go of our joint family systems. Because no longer would we listen to the voice of reason and slowly the elders stopped speaking to the young. The transfer of knowledge and wisdom waned.
I wish the caste card were not played to the hilt all the time in this country. Someone I knew had to vacate from her own apartment because a tenant below had such a huge inferiority complex of belonging to a 'lower' caste, whatever in God's name that is, (which is also fed to him by leaders of his own kind who keep giving him the "we are oppressed" slogan rather than instilling the idea in him that he is beyond his caste, creed, colour and language and that he is one of the most special people on this earth and that he can be whoever he wants to be and none of those parameters matter) and he raised a big hue and cry saying she called them by the name of his caste. So many people use the caste card to their advantage and the country makes it easy for them to do so, while the real sufferers get no justice.
But then like they say, power does corrupt absolutely and even apartment associations run a racket that is beyond any comprehension. They form their own groups, establish laws, which by the way does not seem to do any good for anyone, if they want to drive someone out they easily can, by cutting water supply, just like that or giving trouble in how many ever ways they can and eventually drive them out. Rumor has it that there are people in in so many areas in Chennai who must be bribed so that someone can remodel or perhaps and reconstruct their own house, just so that they can do so in peace. In some places its the usual racket of bringing and driving out tenants so that there is a steady stream of commission that some people can eat into. If an apartment or a street or an area can do all that what would a politician not do? That said, I have met some brilliant IAS officers too, in some of the meets that I have been in or events that I have attended. They seem to have done tons of work in the areas that they have been allocated.
At this point please do not ask me what I have done or tell me to stop cribbing or ranting or raving or a simile on those lines. Also, do not ask me the list of things I have done or the charities I have been a part of. That is also something I will not talk about. I am not a politician to list out the things I have done for the betterment of anyone or anybody and neither will I become one. I am not crafty enough for that sort of a thing. Neither am I the direct descendant of Chanakya. Perhaps it would be great if he were reborn and sets things right. I will crib, I will complain and I will rant about things that disturb me. But I pray with my complete being during a lot of my conscious moments and because this is such a deep rooted one, I am sure its a constant sub conscious wish. I really wish to see this country shining. And I really hope that we all, especially the politicians can be worthy of all the sacrifice that so many of our ancestors have done and more so, of the sacrifice that people of our army are doing on a daily basis - those that have not held back from laying down their lives for a country, a country whose leaders are perhaps signing treaties and agreements and pacts that we might never really know of, barters and deals that may even sell of the best interests of people like us - and like they say, in blissful ignorance do we live. In blissful ignorance and complete faith in our leaders do the soldiers of every country fight. Not knowing what they are fighting for and for whom. There was a famous saying - Imagine there is a war, and nobody turns up? (Its perhaps from a song) I don't know if the normal citizens would have the common sense to not show up at a war rather than become chess pieces in a board that world leaders can move and remove at their will and pleasure.
But despite all the hopelessness I pray. I pray for a better land. A better future. All that I can do is pray. With all my heart. With the hope that the Universe will answer in all its glory.