While I was sketching out the structure of this article, I thought that I will follow the traditional practice of mine, that is, to introduce the article with an appropriate quote prior to the subject that I will be hitting at. Contrary to this thought, another line of thought reminded me how angry and disgusted I am and given my current feelings, I cannot afford to be ornate. I will be blatantly straight forward in expressing my feelings and state that I am furious.
A few months back, I stumbled upon a poetic film named ‘Labour of Love‘ by Aditya Vikram Sengupta. It was a narrative, one of a kind, a dialogue between a couple, not through terrestrial words but through everything possible, except terrestrial-ness. While reading an interview with the director, I also stumbled upon his inspiration behind this film, an Iranian independent filmmaker named Keywan Karimi. Curious, I sat down for some investigation about this man and was taken aback to learn some things about him.
He has been sentenced to six years in prison and 223 lashes for the content of the films that he makes. He doesn’t sugarcoat and prefers to depict the conditions prevalent in his homeland, thereby hurting the sentiments of quite a handful of people. This scrap of information forces me to connect it to the ongoing upheaval in Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. It drags my mind to Soni Sori, Rohith Vemula and might I say that the list is too long. I am referring those very names that dominated national headlines for the past several of weeks.
I am not here to just document the heinous things that are happening around, that a father doesn’t think twice while raping his daughter in Uttar Pradesh; that a woman in Bangalore tried to teach a lesson, that too, to a stray dog by throwing the puppies to the opposite side of the lane, resulting in their death; that people in Syria are eating grass because they have not received aid yet. I just refuted the statement that I used in the beginning of the paragraph. I indeed documented all the inhuman things that are happening around, while we carry on with our lives in a metropolitan city with a glassy cosmopolitan hue on it.
In ancient times, while Greek tragedies were staged, they concentrated on the gore and grotesque features of it, to create a spellbinding spectacle so that it leads to catharsis among the audience. I presume I am trying the same thing here as I document, rather state, the awful events happening around.
When I first realised that literature is something I care about, I finally heaved a heavy sigh. I felt relieved and thought that now I can live in denial, happily ever after. As the years passed by, as the love for literature from around the world charmed my futile existence, I finally realised that literature and the practice of it, somehow, inculcates the very germ in you which does not allow you to look away. You cannot live in denial.
But my agenda behind writing this is just not documenting my anger, about what I feel and how literature stopped being a subject and became a philosophy for me. My agenda is also to share how, with baby steps, we can walk towards a solution. And the word is… empathy. We tend to confuse the words empathy and sympathy. The day we realise the fine line of difference between the two, that’s the day we shall see changes in our neighborhood. The whole vision might sound petty, a foolish idea of a romantic, but there is no harm in browsing through this article, coming to the end of this article, and sparing few moments of deep thought upon the meaning of the word empathy.
Let us treat every other human being as a ‘mind’, ‘a glorious thing made up of stardust’. Let this irritation and rage that I am feeling end up being an infectious epidemic. Let it plague the society, let everyone be angry. That’s the time revolution will step in, looking like a newlywed bride, under the hue of a different sunshine.