It’s dawn. And I am wide awake. Not because i have suddenly turned into a morning bird, but because i haven’t slept at all. Beside me is also wide-awake Preetha. For some reason, both women are in a deep meditative/contemplative/insomniac/talkative mode this day. You may want to attribute this to watching two admittedly chick flicks, but which are also soul-stirring: 50 First Dates and A Walk to Remember (Come visit Venus sometime!).
Watching Shane West turn into a miracle and Drew Barrymore battle with the reality of her life every single day can have its sobering effect on you (Yes it is possible!). And so, the contemplative mood goes in search of something to roost upon, and ends up with Chapter 420 – ‘Repression in this country!’ Not just in the sense of “O we can’t be open about boyfriends we can’t be open about sexuality we can’t wear revealing clothes like these American kids………..” strain. That got left behind with the ‘Hip Hip Hurray’ (remember the ‘super-cool!’ series on Zee that was about a bunch of high school kids in short skirts and even shorter flings)stage passing by after creating mucho-flutter, at least in certain public schools in urban India.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines repression, in terms of Psychology, as: ‘The unconscious exclusion of painful impulses, desires, or fears from the conscious mind’. It also means ‘forceful subjugation’, and involves a defence mechanism somwhere down the line. A wee bit of analysis should get us thinking. keeping in mind the ‘colonial hangover’ that we’re all still striving to get over, the secularism that we’re still trying to imbibe, despite having proclaimed it half a century ago, but still fighting like grumpy children over nothings, still invariably finding something to step on and dominate in all respects – children, women, farmers, the less fortunate, the plants, trees and animals – despite also proclaiming the ideal of equality, i’d say it is surprising they don’t adopt repression, in the above stated senses of the word, as another clause of the noble constitution, since it is practiced freely, by all elements of the government and the civil society as well.
Wouldn’t you agree that it is repression that rules the roost in our much coveted 61 year old nation? repression-oppression-suppression of PDA, ideals, ideas, thoughts, beliefs, sexualities, emotions, euphoria, feelings, women, children, ‘the other’, temperatures, what-you-really-think, desires….it can go on forever. When whole lives revolve around, and are directed by, the mighty ‘society’, repression becomes the unnecessary but natural offspring of “what will the neighbours say?!” and “this is not allowed in this country, even if it IS in the West!”
When living by rules, by perceptions and by God are just three examples of the shackles that we entwine ourselves in, when microcosms of envy, jealousy and greed become the governing monsters of our disbelief in each other and when the super-structures that we create in our mind, and unleash on (arguably) empty vessels of unresenting acceptance, it is a repressed organism that breathes through nasal septal perforations.
But then, in a place which calls the cow as its mother, but also feeds on its flesh in dark stinking alleys, it’s not metaphor or allegory that you need to give reality/truth a face. “We have too many religious textbooks here,” says sage Preetha, resting under her tree of knowledge. True. The multiple interpretations of which add still more spice to this saga of pushing the roots of change back underground. Then again, is it fair to blame the sacred pothas to this extent? they written with good intentions, by possibly good men, after all.
Why is it that we follow the Quran, the Geetha, the Bible more than our Constitution? If it is all about governing man to lead a better life, and if the end-product is happiness and all around growth of mankind, what stops us? Not that the costitution is infallible. Hypocrisy comes as a side salad there too. But anything that is unattempted remains impossible. Is it impossible to conceive of an open, liberated, truly secular India?
I don’t know. There is despair. They jail teenagers for ‘coochie-cooing’ in parks, they beat up nuns for forcing ‘conversion’, they bomb market areas to make a rebellious statement about Islam, they protest against the Tatas’ project because the capitalists take away their lands, they don’t send their daughters to school but she is going to be someone’s ‘ghar ki lakshmi’ by bringing in all the dowry, they ……………
I guess when we begin to accept that it is ‘we’ and not ‘they’ that make it all happen, even as just a collective wilfulness, that ‘we’ might be able to move beyond it.
it’s another kind of double life – being victims and perpetrators – that we live. or maybe its just cyclic. like the destructive chakravyuha.