Saturday, February 27, 2010

"How many years must some people exist before they're allowed to be free?"                                                       - Bob Dylan (in Blowing in the Wind)

It's scary how true this sentence is. Even in these times that we live in, times of great advances in technology, in science, in human rights, in international relations, there exists a basic lack of reverence for human freedom. Before going into any details, it is imperative to define what 'freedom' means. To be very honest, I haven't yet found one single, acceptable and usable definition of freedom. Everything comes with a catch. "The condition of being free; the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints" claims one of the official sources. Sure, I accept it. It could even be usable, as far as I am concerned. It takes in the concept of freedom of speech and expression, the concept of freedom from aggression and the freedom to think and act, and even, if you combine everything, freedom of communication. Seems fair.

But wait. Aren't we missing something here? What about the 'freedom' to be free? What about the freedom to live peacefully? And what about the freedom to feel secure about your life?
Let's face it. We are living in a culture of fear. An environ where we all, as a collective, are scared and anxious of losing our own lives, going into war, losing people we love. Of course, it seems perfectly okay to rebutt that argument by saying it is a completely human emotion. Fear and anxiety are normal. You love them, and you are scared of losing them. Why bring "freedom" into this rather simple equation? Blaming the government, blaming the authority, is all seen as a sign of weakness. Worse still, you are labelled a conspiracy theorist. The assumptions that come with that phrase!
There's terrorism. There's racial strife. There's international aggression. And then there come the casualties. Which, almost always involves the aforementioned collective. There is always something, something that binds you. This fear that has been successfully instilled in us through ensuing propaganda is taking over our lives, whether we are aware of it or not. You leave home, and there is this nagging doubt at the back of your head. Am I going to return home tonight? Or am I going to be found in rubble, arms and legs amputated? When I return home tonight, am I going to meet all of my family or is bad news awaiting me? If my country does go into war tomorrow, will I have to be part of the troops? Is the war going to be against me? What if tomorrow, a mob decides to revenge against my community and then rapes and murders my entire family?
No, these are not abstract doubts, fears of one individual. There are too many people at stake here, too many people who cannot help but wonder about the hundreds of gory possibilities that await them.

If I ask you, is that being free, how would you react?

Seriously, when are we ever going to be allowed the freedom to be free from this slavery to fear?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Yes, Seema Goswami, you are right. I do so hope you were not, but as is the case with my rather uninteresting life, that would be wishful thinking!

For those who don't know and don't understand this rant, congratulations. You will, officially, live to be a hundred. In a world of disease, despair, conflicting hatred and the like.
Seema Goswami, columnist for Brunch, in her piece talked about how the only emotion we feel most is guilt. Could that be any truer?
Think about it. If I don't switch off that tube-light, I feel this nagging guilt, tugging at me, not letting me face myself. If I don't share that tiny little piece of chocolate, I feel like a glutton. Even if I were sleeping, I have to magically reply to texts and those very intrusive calls. No, God forbid that I not. If I don't ask the auto driver to drop me off somewhere convenient for 'him', I feel guilty, no matter how late I may be! If I ask my parent(s) for a favour, I feel terribly guilty. And if I don't get up to make that cup of tea, you guessed it, the guilt vanquishes me.
And that's really not all. Not even a fraction.
Honestly, when is it going to end? How long before I crumble before this stupid, very unnecessary emotion takes over my life and completely judges what I may or may not do?
I think it has already started to. Just the other day, I was smiling about how well guilt works as a driving force. I get up groggy, in the midst of the night, to turn a tap off. I try to finish my work before my deadlines. And I also try to squeeze in reading, in all that drama.
But you know what? That's not how I want it! I want my driving force to be, well, me. Not an emotion. Not something that is defined as " a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realises or believes—accurately or not—that they have violated a moral standard, and bear sole responsibility for that violation". And especially not when it is treated as a severe lifestyle "disorder".

So, can I have my life back?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Enough has been said on DGP Rathore. Most people get frustrated on the mere mention of his name. No, not because he abetted suicide of a young girl he molested. Not even because he tortured her eleven year old kid brother, or drove the family away from their own home. But because Rathore has gotten enough hype as it is. From him being on national TV news channels acting cocky to threatening the media to getting bail on the very paltry amount of time he was sentenced for. Yes, all of us condemn what he did, maybe even hate him.
But Utsav Sharma did more than just that. In the news today for stabbing Rathore in the face(thrice!) with a pen knife, I have nothing but respect for the 29 year old.
Yes, it sounds like our entire generation is disillusioned. But how long can you sit still? How can you sit by and tolerate a lecherous 'killer' on the loose? How long before you let off your steam?
Did Utsav do anything wrong? Yes. Were his methods probably contrived and impetuous? Of course. So why the respect? Because Utsav is proof that our youth isn't just a by-product of capitalism, feeding on what the government tells us. He is also not insane, or at least, not if you don't ask the police. A journalism student, currently studying in NID, Utsav probably knew what he was going to do.
Honestly, I am not someone who believes in taking justice into your own hands. But then again, can you blame someone for reacting like that if all that Rathore got for inflicting 20 years of torture on a family is 6 months?
Also, this fear, this sort of anger, is not about Rathore. Somewhere, it transcends and seeps into the entire judiciary of ours. Are we heading toward a 'one man for himself' sort of regime? Because if we are, someone should warn me. Screw democracy, screw justice, I am registering for a gun.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Writer's Block?

It occurred to me sometime back. I hadn't updated my 'blog' in over two months. It is weird, surely, for someone who loves writing as much as I do to not post anything for that long a time?
I sat down, thinking maybe I should write on issues that are really pertinent, something that I care about. Or even something which makes a blog a 'blog'. Short, crisp posts about my life. But I was(and still am) certain that nobody wants to know that bit. So then I thought of writing about fashion. And cars. And bikes. And cellphones(Oooh, cellphones). And books! Basically, I wanted to write. Something. Anything. Or maybe not.
So why didn't I? Of course, I had to take examinations during this time. But then again, I was free for an entire month after. Why not then? Was it writer's block, that mysterious element that authors/poets use to justify their lack in churning out fabulous writer? Even as I type this, it sounds ludicrous to my own ears. Author/Poet/Writer and me? Hah! Wishful thinking.
Maybe I was afraid of being judged. People seeing what I write, scoffing, and then very blatantly lying to me, "Oh, you do write well. I love your piece." Is that what I fear secretly? Of being judged? But I thought I was below all this! That I was too unimportant to matter. Am I secretly a narcissist? Oh God, that's it. I am a dark, brooding narcissist. Look at me go on and on about myself.
Or, maybe, just maybe, I am simply lazy. Yeah, that's instantly better! I am lazy, not a snob. Talk about lesser of the two evils.