Friday, June 20, 2008

the reluctant fundamentalist

about a week ago, i received a call from some certain blast from the past.no, this one wasn't the same old X. this one was someone who never reached that level. the reasons being purely esoteric at that time but now they sound alright. she didn't want a relationship, even though she confessed that she liked me, because it could have been a serious one and maybe even intense. i didn't want it because she was a friend, a person i cared about and that fell in the lap of direct conflict with my principles. i had two very simple principles- never date a friend and never date a friend's xyz(sister, girl, etc etc). though we parted on a very uncomfortable note as i had saved a relationship(that ended either way because the guy was a cheater and the girl was my friend. so, you can see that the very act of saving was nothing but an extension of the principle) and a friend from getting hurt (the blast from the past girl) in a relationship that was full of deceit and two-timing. later did i realize, which was very recent that it would have been three-timing or multiple timing. anyhow, since i don't keep numbers of people i don't hear from for some time, i was in dilemma to take the call from an unidentified number. nonetheless, i took the call and the initial greetings were exchanged. after the introduction, i frowned with a certain smile. it was her, she had been lost somewhere and i wondered as to why she was calling. it had been about 3 years or so and her sister had gotten married recently. we were in touch but maybe on orkut or some vague form of modern communication. so, the conversation proceeded and it didn't take me much to realize that the woman did not want to discuss relationships(so, she got over another one. she keeps getting over another one) but i did manage to console her by saying that one day she would have a beautiful relationship and a married life. she argued a little over it and said that it wasn't possible for her as people didn't take her for what she were (what she said was that she can't be in one and they are all messed up for her. what she meant was that she kept hopping in search of the new fangled concept of freedom and she wanted to do she wanted to and they couldn't take it. her life was her own and that she was the new anti-religion, anti-convention thing, desperate to not settle down or talk things over.basically she didn't know a shit about love but she would say that she was in one. but for the sake of not being labeled by people, she had replaced the term love with relationship. it saved one from the blame game that is so not for her. i am "hippy"). after the initial nano-second judgments were made in my own mind, i asked her if something were wrong. she promptly replied that nothing were and i of course decided to drop the line. a little talk here and there and over trivia led us to a revelation from end that i had been in a mob. her natural reactions at their best, demanded a full length explanation that i decided to cut short with a summary. however, the reactions did not subside and i had to tell her the real reason from my involvement. i wasn't really in a mob but thats what people say when they look at a crowd being dispersed by several lines of police defence, namely tear gas shell, water cannon or and even lathi charge(lathi is like a club..in india lets say that we are not so refined and sophisticated and have evolved from the villages or may be the love for the father of the nation has been instilled in the police force but not in the minds of the people. so,yes we have long, elongated, sleek clubs). the reason for the crowd's protest was the cartooning of the prophet muhammad (p.b.u.h.) by a certain denmark illustrator. the march was to the denmark embassy to give a written protest. now, it was very hard for my 'blast from the past' friend to understand as to why the protest was required. then i gave her a tiny insight that a leading newspaper in delhi, india had printed a picture of a bare back of a woman with the name of allah tattooed on it and the muslim community found it very insulting. the march was the result of the amalgamation of the two actually. the tattoo fueled the cause and led to the protest, which obviously got out of hands and then we were subjected to the several lines of police defence. strange as it may sound, the woman friend of mine had a little opinion of her own. it is not wrong to have an opinion and i thought that i maybe be able to give some insight. i was going to be proved wrong soon. the argument started over how it was a woman or a person's own desire to get something tattooed over her back and it should not have been subjected to any form religious extremism. it was her own sweet will and she did it because she wanted to get it done. i agreed to that somehow, clearly knowing that no muslim would do that. that was the issue- no muslim would do that and at the same hand anyone could do that, even a muslim. getting a tattoo done was not the issue over here, getting it printed on the cover of a leading magazine was an issue to a certain extent. the magazine printed it,that was the bigger issue. well, the argument went over to new fangled concept of, "it's my life" and i found it really hard to see that my point couldn't fit in her head. if i were an anti-christer or anti-jew, would i go ahead and promulgate it? promulgating it would not make me a believer, it would make me stupid and i could be subjected to anything. seeing the conversation making no progress, i decided to change my tactics a little.

"you are a hindu, right?, i asked.

"yes", she replied calmly, more like comfortably.

"but so, is everyone in india then. hinduism is not even a religion. do you know what your religion is?", i stated the facts with the same calmness.

"well" "it is sanatan dharma. now, tell me this please. aren't cows considered sacred in your religion?"

"yes,they are very much", she replied promptly.

"spendid! now you must be aware that muslims eat cow meat as ghastly as it may sound to you", i say with a smile.
the smile wasn't because she was being subjected to anti- hindu lecture. the smile was for a smart question or i thought so.
"yes, they do", she replied a little sad.

"now, what if we printed pictures of several cow heads in a row, butchered of course? a leading newspaper would do ample justice to the circulation and the impact.", i asked with a sense of victory.

"there would be riots!", she exclaimed.

"but why? there shouldn't be any. its a personal choice and i have my own freedom and right. i can do what i want to just like the woman. why is it so different then?", i bounced back at the opportunity and smiled to myself.

the case was going to be sealed.

"its different because you're killing someone...", she replied.

i was surprised and shocked and saddened at the same time. i had devised a theory of my own that no one is dumb or daft. it is their desire or sometimes inability to cater or to perform at certain expected levels due to a lot of reasons and one of them was choice. i had devised this theory to not label people as 'dumb'. what a fucked up theory it was.. all the visions of a democratic, free country where people had their own rights and practices were turned to ashes. this is the new generation that is coming up or it was just a tiny part of it. i was discomforted for i respected everyone's beliefs but i had mine intact. i didn't want to harm anyone's interest and didn't wish to cause any disharmony.i expected the same from others at least..i have always been wronged.. the conversation somehow had to be dropped since there was no point in carrying it forward.

"i didn't know that you were so religious", she asked ,trying to smile forcibly maybe.

"i am not!", i replied casually.

i wondered as to why i was to be labeled as religious or an extremist if i stood up for my belief. why was something like this always to happen whenever i opened my mouth to assert my right? why??
silence prevailed for a second or so and before anything else could start, the conversation for the night was going to be sealed soon.

"i'm a fundamentalist..."

2 comments:

Surkhi said...

i am motivated to write, when you write...brilliant piece, it makes me so uncomfortable...and I know i am at my best when that is the case...cheers

blood on the ground.. said...

merci beaucoup madam
i am glad if my writings (about trivia) can motivate others to write.
actually ones writes best when one is not comfortable.
i write to make people uncomfortable and if that's what you are now, my objective has be achieved
wretched smile
I