It is a truth universally acknowledged that I live in two worlds. One exists solely in my LadyBrain, filled with my poems and words populating the world inside my head; another where I live with the rest of the world. The boundaries are set in stone and I prefer to keep it that way. Otherwise I’ll be one more step closer to insanity than I currently am. No matter how fun Mrs. Haversham made being gaga all the time, it’s not something I’d want to be right now. When I’m famous and annoyed at the world at large, it’ll be another story. These two worlds remain in their place, restore some semblance of order in my LadyBrain. Call me naïve or just plain stupid, I thought most people do keep such boundaries too. Last time I checked, mixing fictitious embellishments with reality is still damaging to the self. This is precisely why I freaked out seeing this article and this one too. Or maybe I should just stop expecting people to give two sides of the story each time they post something potentially ‘simultaneous eyebrow raising’ for once and for all. These ritual deceptions hurt too much to let them remain festering by, unchecked.
I quote from the second article —
“The Naxalites appear to be attacking government schools because they are often the only government building in the remote rural areas where the Naxalites have their greatest influence and ease of movement. Moreover, undefended schools are a high-visibility, soft target-attacking them garners media attention and increases fear and intimidation among local communities. While the Naxalites do not appear to be targeting students directly, attacks on schools that are not being used for a military purpose are violations of both international humanitarian law and Indian criminal law.”
You might think, “She has finally lost it for I see nothing wrong with this article”. Or maybe snorting all that caffeine has finally made me Miss. Bertha The Second. The truth is, there is a detectable bias here. I’m not accusing any one journalist or blog or one institution. This bias is rooted in our culture since the longest time. As old as the stereotypical dhoti, if you want a rough estimate.
I could talk about the Naxalbari Movement using voices from ‘below’ or ‘the Subaltern’ as Gayatri Spivak would say. I could talk about the years of suffering, damage and humiliation these ‘anti-state elements‘ have faced for centuries. I could talk about how firmly insipid our caste system is that any mobility that even after years of ‘abolishing the caste system’, there are strict social demarcations no one crosses. Or even thinks of crossing. I can only look at the men and women who sweep my street every morning as they stagger to work drunk and bumbling curses (explain to me how can anyone clear garbage year after year, barely surviving in a system where that is all they are allowed to do without succumbing to the “vices” of alcoholism?) I can look away when I see any ‘Dalit’ woman being harassed by the police in the trains and buses. Or we can do a round of “Guess who?” is always in the bottom stair of any Government scheme or program even though there are separate programs and departments made for these people as they are so fondly called. I can talk about how these children are given seats in most higher education universities but not the necessary education that will help them get there by merit. I can tell you about how most interviews are rigged (given that the Dalit gets hirself out of the shoddy system in one piece, without giving in to madness or despair) , so that other people are spared the ‘horror’ of working with them. Would you be interested in knowing the extent of abuse these women have to go through, doubly entangled in patriarchy, punished because of their caste and gender, becoming truly “third-grade” citizens? Would you believe me if I told you a vast majority of Dalits grow up in an environment of hatred and violence from outside and within? Maybe you’ll scoff at me when I cite scholars who point out how for the Dalits, the freedom movement made no change at all; considering before Independence they were exploited by the British, now it’s the zamindars? Or will you laugh when I say theirs is a history of silence and of silencing? Or maybe, you will join in your tears with mine (as I keep on hoping) as most of my words translate to White Noise, again.
I am not condoning either the Naxals or the Army’s violent methods of achieving what they each believe they are fighting for, but just imploring you to see there could be an underbelly to the flag of Indian nationalism we’re only too quick and happy to wear around. Either way, no one talks about why the Naxalites feel the need to take up arms but we will definitely demonise them as “mercenaries”. We will associate such terminology with them, systematically, ritually till this is the only reality we remember collectively. Till we have reached that point that we are completely capable of justifying the freaking army raping Dalit women, “making” them confess their “Maoist roots” using sexual assault. We will never even see their side of the story, try to gauge their anger or even their words; robbing them of agency and power to tell their own stories. It is only when the Dalits set up independent presses of their own, they can put out their words; even then taking large economic risks.
To borrow and modify from Ms. Firestone, “These class structures are so deep, they are invisible“; such hazing over is reflected in the writings of Indian or International journalists who how hard they try, will continue to use the existing terminology. This prejudiced stance suddenly goes kaput when talking about the Shiv Sena antics where they burned down the only surviving library of Indology Studies a few years ago because the institute had a few records that did not edify the Maratha hero as they clearly did for their personal, political reputation. We talk about how tyrannical the Shiv Senaiks are but we will not call them a “pan-Indian armed militant movement“. I’d say the same amount of psychopathy can be seen in such fascist ideology-driven parties as the Naxalbari movement is accused of having, but because the former is superior by caste, their acts are termed as “heretic acts of indignation” where as the latter will be termed as a “threat to National security”.
I am freaking tired of talking about the same thing every time I sit to write. I wish I could go give all the ignoramuses of the world a private tutorial of, “One sided views — BAD!”, “Acquire both sides of the story — GOOD!” till they understand, somehow understand to critically respond to the propaganda and gunk aimed at them from every direction. But sure as the mole on my upper lip, every post boils down to just this. Sure as Proust’s disdain for fullstops, Renee and I will get mail that will accuse us of racism because what we endorse isn’t that magical land of snake-charmers and kamasutra in these posts.
And now, for the first time, I lock myself in the world in my head, temporarily, out of harm’s way. For even one more attempt to sabotage the voices of my sisters and brothers is enough to send me over. I am ‘La Vache Enragée’ as well as ‘La Vache Qui Pleure Dans Sa Chambre Tous Les Jours’ when I see such blatant manipulation of minds. I seethe, I rant and finally I cry. Hopefully for the last time in a long time today.