Today, after having lunch as I was walking back to my office. I saw a group of 5-6 high school boys,looking back at something and running.I was alarmed, because there was a dog nearby. So, I thought they were running away from the dog. Then I noticed, some of them coming back, with stones in their hand or acting like they are going to throw that stone at someone. I stopped and found a man who was following them, ragged clothes, balded, and seemed mentally challenged. I stared back at those boys, wondering why would they want to pelt stones at him. They walked off after that and so did the man still looking at them sometimes.
This incident took me back about ten years to my own school days. It’s been a decade! After school, we used to lazily cycle back home, taking one hour for a journey that was not more than twenty minutes. Every does that, we were no exception. Once in a while we found homeless, old, and ‘pagal’ persons while cycling back. They threw old beer bottles at us sometimes, but then we were also curious fucks. So sometimes, just to tease and run away we threw water at them, or sometimes small pebbles as well. That was normalized. No one stopped us, no one told us that one should not do this. ‘Are paagal hai, kya kar lega.’ We regularly find such pagals around us, only we grow up we start sometimes empathizing with them. What could have been their story? What heartbreak, what accident? Such questions never came up back then, I guess.
But that’s the extent to which things are normalized. It’s alright to hurt homeless wanderers, living off the roadside rags. What will they really do? When society declares someone ‘pagal’ , it becomes alright to pelt stones at them, beat them up, molest them, harass them. So, when those who protest against the establishment, or eat beef, or do something which is against the social order, they are tending towards becoming ‘mental’. So then, it becomes necessary to harass them, bully them. We too are responsible. A thing that starts at a young age of 12, seemingly benign, one day become malignant. We too, are one of those. We too, are the bullies, the stone pelters.