By Ipshita Mitra:
It is so difficult sometimes to comprehend circumstantial human behaviour and gauge human condition. Extinction is manifested in myriad forms in a society that resembles a cauldron seething with corrupted values, a lost sense of humanity, petty tricks of laundering and looting, vested motives and above all the unheard yet legitimate cries of those, forced to be cornered to a periphery; away from the “competent” institutions of democracy and governance. While an Anna’s cry against a weed infested society was powerful enough to drive thousands out of their closed quarters in support of the representative Gandhian voice to eradicate an ill threatening the social fabric; there were two sisters who did not participate. Locked within the confines of the four walls, Anuradha and Sonali embarked on a journey of slow death. Their cries somehow fell on impervious ears of the people of this nation. While we were out on the streets with candles and placards with printed slogans, we forgot that somebody was left behind.
As we joined Hazare in unison, aiming for a structural change in society, in our desire to carve out an administrative machinery completely erased of functional flaws and lacunae; we turned a blind eye and a deaf ear (however inadvertent) to the psychological struggle many people are subjected to (here, represented by the unfortunate saga of the two sisters) in this society susceptible to redundant patriarchal norms and notions of gender hierarchy. Now, the fragmenting psyches of these two sisters would not have so degenerated in so far they found a remedy in fatal isolation, had they been exposed to a filial environment where a responsible brother would not have left them desolated after the unprecedented demise of their parents. Renowned sociologist Yogendra Singh also confirms that “the two sisters seem to have invested emotionally in raising their brother who had forsaken them. There is a lack of reciprocity which could have led to frustration if they felt that their expectations were not fulfilled.” Abandoned, the sisters lost faith in an institution namedÂ family which is primarily and ironically defined and constituted by belongingness, trust and affection. The definition did not apply to them.
Delhi based psychologist Rajat Mitra provided with a clinical explanation as he described the condition of the sisters’ in a psychiatric term, folie a deux as “a form of shared insanity where two people support and strengthen each other’s delusional beliefs.” For me they were neither insane nor delusional but they had seen the reality which they somehow could not reconcile or come to terms with. The reality that they were witnessed to was in juxtaposition with their conventional and innocent faith in a social system that came forward as a questionable entity. It was noted that after the authorities broke into the house post the elder sister (Anuradha’s) death as she bled from the mouth, the younger sister was attired in woollen clothes in this hot weather. People interpreted that as her collapsed mental state of being. This can be situated in another perspective also, (though that has the potential of labelling the author of this article as purely insane but she is ready to risk it).
May be in her misplaced sense of outfit, she was trying to experience a fabric (ated) warmth of a family she had been deprived of for a very long time. Just that it is not visible to us as we conveniently attributed it as a sign of madness. If we can join in the hysteria created by Anna Hazare and the media, or say invest our voice and strength to a struggling Irom Sharmila against the draconian Armed Forces Special Power Act or hail Aung San Suu Kyi in her fight to lead Myanmar towards democracy, why should we fail to justify and sustain family relations? It is not about discarding people as victims of dementia every time we fail to fathom the reality.
Let us be more receptive and sensitive. Let us not make this a ‘curious case of two sisters’ worthy of debates and discussions among a class of activists, intellectuals and officials but let us learn a lesson from this unfortunate episode, that revolutions, mass uprisings and large-scale agitations do not always guarantee a secure and guarded society. Learning, listening, loving and living together with a sense of respect for each other will surely promise an emotionally healthy society.