Saturday, December 25, 2010

Corruption as Metaphor

By Sadho Ram

Originally written for YKA, an online media blog. Publishing it here on ARTH, just to make it available to readers who are not aware of YKA.

Corruption, though always prevalent everywhere, but somehow over the years have become synonym with India’s name, and in 2010 it has established itself as India’s official ruling force or …party (I guess I’ve this much of liberty to write in whatever hypocrisy…err I mean, democracy is left in our country today). And Corruption is what it is. An Identity! Therefore, I’m most corrupt. (You’ll know why I’m stating this. Just read on).
Image Courtesy Google

Not a day goes by, when there’s even one news headline that says that yesterday was a corruption free day. No scams were discovered. Government offices and officers worked without bribe. Traffic constable did not stop a helmet wearing and under-speed riding biker and did not fine him for something that he wasn’t doing. That the recently constructed bridge suddenly did not come down because instead of poor quality iron rods, there were superior qualities used, or the ongoing metro work was not postponed because the issue of non-payment of the workers was cleared. Not a single day. It’s all in just fantasy. And while we keep dreaming about all this, our public-appointed and (some) self-appointed guardians indulge in those games uglier than shitholes of a slum and messier than the garbage canisters of a posh colony. (I’m telling ya… these two are the worst places you’ll wanna fall into).

And while my Editor-in-Chief wants me to write about the top political scams happened in India during 2010, I somehow see no point in it. But still, I’m writing (though not entirely what he wanted. You see now, why I stated above that I’m most corrupt? I’m not doing the job I was asked to). Maybe because, like our politicians, who might not want to be included in the metaphor on their own but are somehow reluctantly keen to be part of it. Why? Maybe, they see it, the Corruption, as a larger symbol than the metaphor itself. Or maybe, they are just plain greedy (as you will plainly agree) and are simply having a jolly grand time stuffing away your hard-earned-tax-paid money. Maybe something else! But who knows? And most importantly, who cares? While it, the scams happen, noises rise. Groups are formed. Inquires run. RTIs and PILs are filed. The official representative of that organisation, involved in that particular scam, gets his or her profile and job axed. While some random officer is picked up and put behind bars. Public rage turns into euphoria. Media starts praising the same it was blaming a few hours ago and so on. And the one, the King of the Kong, the executioner, the Chanakya of cunningness, is having the last laugh, while also foreseeing all those future possibilities where he, she or they, as collective force, will again have the same old but still grand last laugh, at the cost of all those who themselves, in their own greed for a so called promised land and twisted ideologies based on some ancient theory, have appointed him, her or them as their collective ruler.

I call this chaos. Perfect, precise, and fulfilling its purpose to the level of utter equality. Like you eat, you shit and then to clean it, you flush, wipe or pay yourself (depending on the type of life-style you are leading). Because at the end…err I mean, beginning of the day, it is after all your mess, and you ought to yourself or pay to clean it. So in the same manner, you chose them, the one now eating away all the butter made from your bloody/bloodier sweat, and alongside asking you to say – “cheese”. There’s literally nothing you and I can do, except about venting out our anger (Literary Expression in my case. Come on, give me that much of space. Will ya? Thank you!) But there are ways. Some real ways! Not all those just high-talk ways. Though, I’m afraid, that I can’t write them here in this Opinion openly. But I’ll give you some glimpses. Some subtle hints!

Like what you do, when that tiny little tree inside that intricately designed pot, made with earthly attributes, kept in the balcony of your home (provided you have one. No, no, not the home, the intricately designed pot, made with earthly attributes, with that tiny little tree), starts to rot? Yes, rot. Not dry, but rot. What? What exactly do you do?

I don’t know about you, but I immediately pluck it out of that…that intricately designed pot, made with earthly attributes, and throw it as far as I could, with a force sometime, even not familiar to me.

But I know what most possessors often do. They keep watering it. With a hope! Yes, with that so called most famous word in the English dictionary, they keep watering it with a blind hope that someday it will become what it was. Pure! Un-corrupt!

I call them escapists. You can call them illusionary.

Because, no amount of persistence, however willing, can reverse that cycle where the tree, though still growing, but is rotting! Of course, until forcedly stopped. So, if you really want to get rid of this metaphor, you know what you have to do. And if you are not clear then enjoy dude (gal?), because this metaphor of – I am most corrupt – is not meant for you.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Verisimilitude Anecdote [Part I]

By Sadho Ram
She thumped her naked, swollen chest, with tight fists, falling one after another, rhythmically. As if drum-sticks falling on drums. Making a sort of sound very unusual to be made by fist thumping on a women’s naked, swollen chest is supposed to make.

She thumped, and thumped, inviting each head in that mob, which knew nothing about her, about an hour ago, absolutely nothing, and knew at that very moment only that it was the first time anyone is the village saw her. And going by the monstrous expressions in each set of those eyes, which seemed ready to pop out, of each of those heads, probably, it will be the last time anyone will ever see her.

I was very small then, I don’t exactly recall my age. I was 11, or maybe 10. 11, probably! I don’t know exactly. All I know that I never saw that women again. I heard stories, though. Yes, stories.

But in all those stories, her end was the same. Death. Bitten till she bled and bled the last drop of her blood. Slapped. Kicked. Punched. Spat, and then bitten again. Some of the stories also include that, they tossed her body, not dead yet, but almost there, in the air and then tied it on two long bamboo sticks and (kind of) held a victory march.

And while they narrated the story, in pride; familiar only to them and they to it, I cried, not in fear. But in disgust. I cried for being able to do nothing about it. For just sitting there, and listen to them, narrating a tale of horrendous mannerism and take pride in it for at last killing the Daayan who had eaten away their so many little kids.

She was spotted near the pond with Raju, the boy who had gone missing since past two days. He was semi-conscious and lay on her arms. People coming from the farms saw her and saw Raju in her arms. But never bothered to ask her – “why” or “how” instead they ran towards her, stone in hands, cuss words on lips, and shot at her – “Daayan” … “Daayan”.

And then a crowd, of adult and angry, blind followers, joined them. Almost as if hypnotised, completely, by the sheer magnitude of the word “Daayan” just like those little kids, who upon hearing any sound which pleases to them, turns their heads or runs towards it, they ran too, the crowd of adult and angry, blind followers, in the direction, from the horizon of which, came the sound in the name they all have been waiting and waiting to hear from last 3 months. Yes, it all had started 3 months before that fateful day, when that woman was seen in the village for the first and last. As if, she was born on that day to die on that day, as she did, indeed die on that day.

My father, whose words I trust, kept telling me; till he was alive, that he tried to persuade people to let her go, let her live, at least let her first speak. But I don’t know why, I somehow cannot bring myself to completely trust his words here, in this case. I know he probably did try. That he was the Sarpanch he had to try. It was, after all, his first duty – “to save lives, irrespective of geographical location of the person, who currently stands on his turf, till he/she is proven guilty of the crime he/she is being charged with.”

So, when he says, he tried and he failed, that means he failed not just as the Sarpanch who could not live up to his first duty but also as a human who could not be true to that one thing that a human is thought to have for another fellow human being i.e. compassion, right?

From past 3 months, children of my village were mysteriously being vanished. No one came to know what happened to them after that, because they or their bodies (if in any case) were never found out. No, absolutely no trace of them; as if they never existed.

People, whose children went missing, were aghast, and people who had children, were scared. Some were angry, too. Most of such, the angry ones, didn’t have any children or anything else to do. Though, none of them knew of what or at whom. But they were angry, just plain angry at whatever that it was.

And so, in their fear, the parents stopped letting their children go out. They barred them from going to school either. Police jeep, which before always stood outside the Thaana, now patrolled the entire village and on some day’s outskirts of the village too, day and night.  But it did not stop. The children kept vanishing, not missing, but vanishing. Because the missing one has the possibility of reappearing, like Raju did, but the ones who vanish, never do. Like the children, who vanished from my village, never did. And so they kept vanishing, though not in the same speed, but they did, nevertheless.

The story is now almost a legend in the village, almost. Now the grandparents narrate it to their grandchildren in a manner they find it suitable, fairytale i.e. good always triumphs over bad. That, she was the bad, very bad and that her death was the good. A victory over her could have come only from her death and so it came.

I too, have forgotten about it, almost. Till, I saw him crossing the tracks near the Meera Road station a week ago. He wore a red shirt, and faded jeans, whose colour I couldn’t make out. He had only one arm. I understood what he does here. I opened my mouth to call out his name, but couldn’t recall it. The train, which was waiting for the signal at outer, started moving. I tried to remember his name, as hard as I could do. But it did not came to me. And then, it came to me, no, not the name, but the reason behind the disappearance of children from my village some 12-13 years ago.

The reason, that took away the life of that woman who, probably had nothing to do with it, or maybe had? But who knows? No one cared enough to ask her. All they cared was what they all have been waiting and waiting to hear and when they finally heard, they had to do it to fulfill that particular desire which their anger had aroused – Blind Rage.

Author’s Note: The story above is a true-life incident. I’ve, in past, tried to write about it, but failed, for reasons unknown to me. Everything happened in real. I remember not being able to sleep for many nights after the incident. I though no longer remember her face, but she is still alive in my memory in some vague form. I do not hope to redeem anything from this write for anybody. Just that, it is a story that needed to be told and so today, it is being told. Thank you!