By Pradhija Sankarapandian:
An awesome day, it was. An unusually awesome one though. The usual chaos of a spinsterhood- weekend was on. Neeta woke up at 10 a.m., one of those lazy Saturdays. Her room partner Reema’s family was here in Bangalore this morning, to spend their weekend with the girls. Neeta walked by, with sleepy eyes, gave a warm, neutral smile to all of them — Reema’s dad, her granny and her sister — and stepped into the kitchen, led by the fragrance of her mom’s expertise.
“Do not go there, kid. Come on here. Let her cook. She is doing it in a “clean” way,” said Reema’s granny in her trembling voice. Neeta was startled and confused. Was that to do with her not having taken a bath yet — No, but Reema is in there and she hasn’t yet had a bath either. Then what was that all about?
“Hey do not mind. That’s how she is, always, very ‘traditional’,” — That was Reema now. That’s how she is — What does that mean? Does it have to do with her usual ways of treating people around? Well, Neeta has been into this kitchen for a thousand times already and it has not caused any volcanic changes in the world so far. So, what has changed now?
The forgotten differences, the caste differences, which the girls hardly consider as a barrier to interact with each other, has made its presence felt in her granny’s voice. They have been fed with caste, sans questions, sans doubts. Reema’s thoughts flew back faster than ever–to the days when she was asked to provide tea to the servant maid, in her ‘separate’ cup, witnessing the maid getting restricted from barging into the room of godliness (because she was born with the grace of another ‘inferior god’?!). She has been instructed by her grandparents not to visit her classmate’s residence because she will get ‘dirty’ spirits in her. So, yes, some one is inferior to the other, dirtier and filthier than the other, by birth. They were to Neeta, and now, she was to Reema.
She was startled to realize her ignorance towards the made up inferiority of people around, her not-questioning the disturbingly awful differences, her blind following of what she was expected to do — yes, discriminate! It hurts when you are subject to it. It does really hurt!
Neeta discussed this with people around, without really giving a thought into their birth tags. She was under a strongly rooted opinion that educated, high societal families do not have caste in mind when dealing with people, which is clearly shattered now.
Discrimination is right here, all over the place, not impacted by education, sensibility, experience, age, friendliness and of course by love too. She started questioning this, though there is less than little hope of bringing a change in the mindset of people in the near future.
She did not enter the kitchen. She did not stop smiling. She did not eat the food of discriminated preparation either. She went out, breathed fresh air and had food with a bunch of youngsters from families which had rooted unseen differences in them. She smiled at all of them. She smiled at the unavoidable but questionably harsh reality.
Image courtesy: http://www.wunrn.com/news/2008/06_08/06_09_08/060908_india3.htm