How Sridevi, Syria & Semen Rocked The National Headlines

The last ten days have been a whirlwind for me. Moving back to Kolkata with an unwell toddler was not only physically exhausting, but it drained me of all my energy and enthusiasm. While he’s still riding on a sinusoidal wave of recovery and sickness, I feel amazed at my late mother’s ability to maintain calmness and sanity while dealing with similar situations during my childhood. But amidst such turbulence in my personal life, I couldn’t help but notice the incidents that have created havoc in the world for the past few days.

Mourning Sridevi

My house had always been divided by the choice of our favourite actress. Baba loved Sridevi, Ma favoured Madhuri Dixit while I grew up adoring Juhi Chawla. Eventually, we outgrew the phase of childish banter over awards and hit movies of all these actors, but they still seemed to have found a permanent place in our drawing-room discussions. “Lamhe” is one such movie that has remained my personal favourite till date. Even though it was way ahead of its time, the maturity with which the subject was portrayed on-screen deserves unanimous appreciation. Sridevi, as always was outstanding. Cut to February 25; I found my Facebook news feed flooded with messages about her untimely death. What was initially believed to be a hoax turned out to be our worst nightmare come true. The 54-year-old actress had indeed left for her heavenly abode. What was assumed to an effect of cardiac arrest was concluded as a case of accidental drowning but what followed suit was even more dramatic.

Suddenly there were people talking about her Botox treatments and obsession with plastic surgery. The constant pressure to look good and to keep age at bay had taken its toll on her life. The next level of hearsay was downright disgusting with most of the news channels re-creating the assumed incident in the bathtub. As a society, we ended up passing judgement on someone for her life choices instead of paying her a much-deserved last respect. Her death had been sensationalised by the media to meet their targets of higher TRPs and in the process nobody cared that her family’s privacy had been invaded in the name of live coverage. As I write this, her body has been taken for cremation, and I hope and pray that her soul finally rests in peace today.

Syria, Where The War Refuses To Stop 

In another part of the world, there’s been continuous bombing for the past eight days, in spite of a ceasefire agreement. Over 150 children have died due to the chemical weapon attack and smoke emanating from the bombs. These bombs have neither spared the hospitals nor the shelters. Women are reported to be pressurised to give sexual favours to receive humanitarian aid from the UN. “The smallest coffins are the heaviest,” seems to have lost all impact with the sheer number of coffins that are being churned out of the war factory there.

Shocking images of a toddler at gunpoint, a blood-drenched kid and umpteen dead bodies of infants are not good enough for most of the channels in our country. Some have conveniently chosen to ignore it while a doe-eyed Taimur Ali Khan Pataudi gets all the front page coverage for his cuteness. The images doing the rounds are so disturbing that as a mother I am forced to think if we are we even going to have a future generation with such schemes of mass annihilation in Syria. RIP humanity.

All Things Semen

During my first ever Holi in Delhi as a first-year post-graduate student, a bunch of young boys had flung a couple of balloons targeting my rickshaw while I was riding back from the North campus of my University. In my part of the country, I had grown up playing Holi as a cheerful festival of colours, but as kids, we had been taught to seek permission before applying colours on just about anybody. Consent wasn’t a big word then – it was just ingrained as part of my upbringing. So this kind of hooliganism was a shocker for me, especially when I found mud water instead of colours after the balloon burst. The next year, I chose to be extra careful. During one such rickshaw ride back to the hostel, a balloon nearly hit my chest. I should say that it took me a while to figure out that my breasts were the intended target. I could sight a couple of men on the terrace making obscene gestures and sounds while getting ready to fling another balloon at me. My rickshaw puller pedalled so fast that the next balloon could only reach the wheels. I had a fantastic two years in Delhi barring the time during Holi and Diwali – one festival that unleashed the perverts and creeps among men and the other that unleashed egos as smog on the atmosphere.

While reading the horrifying account of a student in Delhi University who had a semen filled balloon flung at her, I wondered if it was about time that we stop calling ourselves educated, cultured or even human. What shocked me further is the counter argument by certain people who felt that the incident was nothing but a figment of imagination since the volume of semen required to keep the balloon inflated is huge. These logical thinkers deserve an award for their sense of justification.

Long back, I had stopped reading newspapers. The last one that I read had been running the story of a twenty-year-old gang-raped and murdered in a place called Kamduni in Bengal. I gave up on news channels while one of them was hell-bent on interviewing the Park Street rape survivor, late Suzette Jordan about her ‘feelings’ on being denied entry in one of the city’s posh hotels. Every single day the scenario of hopelessness seems to be hitting a new low. I shudder at the thought of the society that we are soon going to leave behind for our future generation – an unfortunate world of war, blood, perversion and sensationalism.