Of love and longing

Like thousands of other Indians who are horrified at the aftermath since the Delhi pogrom, I am no longer able to keep my politics under wraps. I find that it is showing up, surfacing, in my face, even without any effort. Pushing me into spaces and conversations where I have to really think about where I stand, and what I really feel. I’m trying not to be hasty about many things, to take my time to decide and make up my mind, but I find that being altogether apathetic is no longer an option.

It’s clear that what the current Government is doing in the name of making a statement that probably works as a (severely myopic) political tactic has done some severe damage to the minds of people. Much of this is going to be hard, if not impossible, to rebuild.

This has come up especially loud and clear, in my work. Last weekend at the workshops, it was not a coincidence that three clients came with issues of distress around the devastation playing out in our country. I know that going forward, in an increasingly polarised world with multiple forces trying so hard to divide us in as many ways as possible, people’s longing for connection and belonging is only going to be on the rise. And so, I realise my work as a practitioner and facilitator of family constellations feels relevant and has suddenly taken on a new avatar.

The connection between the personal and the political has never been greater for me than since studying family constellations. Belonging is such a fundamental theme in the work, and I have written about it so very often, here too. I’ve seen time and time again how the transgenerational trauma and effects of world events like the Partition, World Wars, mass migrations, being prisoners of war, and the like, experienced by older generations impact the current generations ability and need for Belonging, Love, Flow and Life. And how the effects of it show in surprising and often unbelievable ways.

Watching current events pan out, I am frankly petrified of the nation we are becoming. In full view of the world that is watching. The continued blame shifting around the violence in Delhi, the complete lack of accountability, the violent amounts of straightfaced lies, the atmosphere of uncertainty and the abject lack of empathy as we have all just slipped back to assumed normalcy as thousands in Delhi are still missing, possibly dead, entire neighbourhoods burned to the ground, with virtually no questions asked, IS TERRIFYING.

I know this is going to show up in my work time and time again. The need to hold these polarities, to make a case for peace, love and hope, against all odds, even as we acknowledge and call out the effects of these atrocities. It’s a tough job. And it’s easy for me to slip into an abyss of gloom sitting in my home endlessly scrolling and consuming the news.

But because Belonging is such a huge theme not just in my study, but now in my life too, recent events have had me wondering a lot about it.

  • Who decides who belongs?
  • How do you belong once you have lost everything?
  • What is the place of love in the world today?
  • What is connection in the world today?

I live for pockets of solace and moments of hope when I get them and yesterday, it came in the form of Sindhustan. An exquisitely made labour of love. I went to catch Sapna Bhavnani’s epic film Sindhustan, but reached the venue early and slipped into a talk that was already running. It was titled “The Politics of Citizenship” and it was about a newly launched book The Deoliwallahs, about the true story of the internment of Indian Chinese in the 1960s. Co-author Dileep Dsouza was present, while Joy Ma spiritedly joined on Skype. Somehow the boundarylessness of the setting itself was so fitting. The conversation shone a light on an issue I was entirely unaware of and even though I had to duck out in time to catch the film, the experience was everything.

Sindhustan, on the other hand, had me in tears from the get go. I was so overwhelmed for so many reasons and I feel a serious lack of words to express what or why. So I’m not going to try, except to share some lines that have stayed with me.

No one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.

I may finally be understanding that my inexplicable bind with Sindhis goes beyond my love for VC and Sindhi curry, because my fascination about the community, their migration and the way in which they exist as a culture today has no logical reasons.

I came away definitely looking at not just the community differently, but also feeling very differently about my family. The family I have often struggled to find my own belonging with. It is so interesting how answers to so many long-held questions can suddenly crystallise when you’re least expecting them.

When love ends, everything ends.

I have known for a while that the average South Indian like me, especially us who live in the South, are largely shielded from the true atrocity and violence of the Partition. I have in some measure tried to dig up and read about it for my own curiosity. More recently, it has come up again and again as a theme and an event in my work with family constellations, and I may have only begun to understand its consequences a little bit more. The film gave me a solid hours worth of fodder to pull away from the frankly useless maddening cacophony of news cycles and Twitter threads, offering not just hope through the stories of love, of overcoming strife, of humanity, of spirit and of belonging, but also reason to change my perspective.

I’m sitting with that for a while.

So I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity I literally chanced upon yesterday. I went off to soak in the feeling over dinner with myself after the screening, furiously jotting down notes and thoughts. And I sat quietly, with a sense that while I know what is going on right now is looking like it will be a long, brutal fight that we will undoubtedly pay for heavily, somewhere inside of me I carried a glimmer of hope. That maybe we will be okay after all.

One year ago: Baffling Benaras
Two years ago: Everyday is blue Monday

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