I’m really tired, fully fed up and hopelessly done with being Indian. I have no way to undo this part of my status and identity — this Indianness — and I realise that this past week with the real news just escalating silently and the atrocities now playing out in broad daylight for all of us to just watch silently, locked up in the safety of my home, I have never felt more disconnected and like an outsider in this country.
Even to understand this crisis as a wake up call from the deep slumber that we have been in, allowing all manners of inequality to fester and foster, is a privilege right now. And that feels so darned pathetic. Around me I see people, like you and me, just not getting it. Just not angry enough. Just not worried enough. Just not thinking enough. There are fewer and fewer people who I can share my true feelings in all honesty. There are a paltry few who would get it without telling me to stop complaining or surrender to the situation and be happy/grateful with what I have.
I’ve had enough of the powers that be that are so brazen now in their single-minded focused pursuit of image-making and public relations. They don’t even remotely care about inclusivity, duty or service. I have been asking myself, what use was all of this unnecessary effort to make us feel unified and patriotic (by banging pots and flashing torches) is we don’t have a sense of inclusivity in the ethos of that patriotism? Even I don’t feel included, what about the people out on the streets with no homes, no food, nowhere to go?
Clearly when those requests were made, the PM was only talking to people who have homes, preferably with balconies and yards and porches, where they could go out and perform these absurd tasks dutifully. Like the rats dancing to the Pied Piper’s tunes, only to go and land in the giant sewers of doom.
We make such a huge noise about development and smart cities and what not, and we don’t even care a dot about the blood, sweat, tears and hands and feet that make those monstrous dreams a reality. We throw them under the bus the first chance we get. We treat them like pestilence, like dirt that flew into our territories when we are questioned about the efficiency of our policy. We blame them for the gaps. And when it’s time for them to go home because we could not provide the basics in the time of a crisis, we want to keep them stranded, because we need their “labour”.
The hypocrisy has never been more blatant. The lies has never been more glaring. I’m a hundred percent sure now that the government is okay with all this collateral damage. The Centre has washed it’s hands off, the States are scrambling. Some states are luckier than others with able and relatively more honest and focused leadership who swung into action early. Others are clamouring and suffering. And it’s all sliding into a place of doom and no return, in slow motion. While we just watch, grateful for what we have.
What about dignity? What about respect? What about humanity? Washed away, with that stark white paint we love to smear all over anything even slightly difficult that begins to show up. Nothing must ruin that sparkling image we’re trying to create.
I drove out today beyond the two streets we have been restricted to for the past 50 days. Some of the little things I observed have left me gutted. We talk of “migrant labour” mostly imagining construction workers. Because that’s what we have a view into. But what about sanitation workers? Street side vendors? Homeless folks who get by from one day to the next doing odd jobs or simply begging? What about sex workers? What about domestic help? What about plumbers and wood polishers and carpenters and tailors? What about them?
I feel personally cheated and duped as a citizen, when I glance at the newspaper everyday. To have to honestly pay the taxes we do, feel constantly at loggerheads with age-old traditional governance, face sectarian politics, witness utterly bigoted communal violence, disagree with every form of development that is being sought, to do all of this in silence, and then have to also feel the fury and helplessness of more than 60% of this country at the time of a crisis like this, donate to the Prime Minister’s fraud fund, and wherever else possible, witnessing citizens eventually taking on the massive task of rescuing other citizens — it’s just too much beyond a point. I told S when I was sharing my shock and distress with him, that I’m so heartbroken and angry today.
And it was only when I said the words that I realised just what I have been feeling all day.
And with it this brokenness, every day, a part of the Indianness of my identity seems to be crumbling away. I find myself moving further and further away. I don’t relate to the majority, I don’t feel like anyone advocates for the interests or concerns of people like me, and when I see pockets of people do-gooders getting out and taking things in their own hands it only reinforces the aloneness. That we cannot depend on our systems. We have to take things on, alone.
I miss December. When I was at a protest every week. Because at least it gave me a sense of solidarity in others like me. And it gave me somewhere to channel my fury and hopelessness.
When will the government of India be good for ANYTHING?