Censorship: The suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, a threat to society, or subversive of the common good.
Blank space. Backspace. Strikethrough.
Coffee brewed. Diplomatic issues. Prudent avenues.
Deceptive reviews. Rating and revenue. A fabricated world view. Sweet fondue.
Write. Delete. Write. Bleed. And, rue.
Journalism: The activity or profession of writing for newspapers, magazines, or news websites or preparing news to be broadcast.
That is, how ruthlessly the dictionary defines an art that governs our self governance,
that is an echo of our voices in the chaotic oblivion of statistical theses,
that is far beyond just a mechanical preparation of “news to be broadcast”.
Journalism is the known amidst the unknown; it is a pair of watchful eyes staring into the void, for what is an unconscious void to the commoner is a saturated consciousness looming on the brink of devastation to a journalist.
Journalism is a subjective truth,
Journalism is the objective lie,
And, amidst the roars of aggressive activism, it is the heaviness of a helpless sigh.
The mistress of mayhem,
The custodian of conspiracy,
The curator of controversy,
The sour columns and the syrupy stories,
The Times New Roman, size 9,
The Georgia Print of the uneducated Education Times,
The Verdana dominating the headings, and oh, it looks so fine,
The words all left aligned,
The systematic, symmetrical design, and the frivolous front-page headline,
The defamations, revelations, and mascaras maligned,
The eyes of a child, the frowns of the youth, and the miseries of the benign,
But when those eyes penetrate the pretty paragraphs and the euphemistic chaff, and start reading between the lines,
Dear journalists, that is where it lies, your last deadline.
Until then, take your time.
Write us something juicy and sensationalised.
Distract us from the latest money laundering scam that passed as ‘policy reform’ by publicising a minister blurting words so imbecile.
Tell us about prospective assassinations and 60 years of ruthless domination.
Tell us about the cows and your delicately planned proselytisation.
Tell us about the Hindu-Muslim division and all your fancy-schmancy 1977 anti-nationalism.
Dear journalists, how have you not realised?
India does not want to know what you want to show.
We don’t intend to water the seeds that you want to sow.
We are the ages which seek investigative journalism that preys, hunts, and kills.
We are not the ages which seek diplomatic conversation that suggests, persuades, and deceives.
We breed on news, on information,
We cannot clutch on to shreds of outdated, falsified news while we press the button and cast our vote,
Democracy dies with journalism, quote unquote.
With residents unaware of the man on the pedestal, and residents unaware of the one standing beside them,
Leaders turn into caricatures and cartoons, over breathing human beings, because that’s all that we’ve seen.
And our faith in journalism is slowly chipping away,
It is rusting, eroding, and diminishing until all that exists is the archaic Word with no meaning of its own,
We are only a step away from the calamity when journalism will have no definition and no application, because why refer to it as ‘journalism’ when ‘fiction’ conveys the same?
We won’t know, if journalism is a part of fiction or a part or fact because it would have become too fictitious to be a fact, and too factual to be a tale,
For it would have become so consumed by contradiction,
So choked by restriction,
From the names, to the designations, to the diction,
I’m soaked in the weight of blind regulation.
The broken business model,
The political propaganda,
It is maddening, isn’t it? When the length of the knife begins at a carved hollow and ends at the hand that created it, which surprisingly belong to the same body?
And, after delving a knife within your own chassis, you complain about the stench of blood as it trickles down to your feet?
But, I wash these notions away from my aged soul and sip my morning tea.
The headlines printed beside pornographic images, that are seen yet unseen,
The emboldened, italicised red letters that we are too terrified to read,
The lowering intelligence quotients and varying needs traded for the holy currency,
The fingers gliding across phone screens, skimming through their “personalised news feeds”,
The stories stitched around sinister deeds,
The moral immorality, the illegal legality, and the same greed.
The torment of truth withheld and the burden of truth freed.
The crisp sound of freshly printed newspapers, the warm aroma of morning tea, the creaking of old chairs, the footsteps on linoleum floors, and the clatter of ceramic cups,
The nation has risen to read, the entwined tales of dictatorship and democracy,
Only to be fed the incomplete, harrowing language of vacant words and deformed sentences that are printed on thin, white papers with pretty advertisements and flattering agreement,
That have printed upon their translucent surfaces the vivid descriptions of proportionate waistlines, porcelain skin, plumped lips, painted tufts and tresses,
Oh, tell me about the sensational lives of actresses,
The curves of cleavages,
The provocative expressions on young faces,
And the chronological timeline of the latest rape case described with emotionless detail across unending pages,
Tell me about the new saints and sages,
The true journalists imprisoned within bureaucratic cages,
And, this is how the readership suffocates itself with images of red carpets while no one mentions the unpaid minimum wages.
The rebellions with hurricanes of passion, that only leave traces of intentional issues created on unbalanced stages.
The gag, the rope, the noose, the knives, the loaded rifles,
Welcome to the exhibition of all the journalists we stifled.
The pen that shivers and the blots of ink that splatter across plain, white sheets like bloodstains on battlefields.
The crematorium of realities masqueraded beneath a sheet of jargon too soft, too sweet, too cordial with deceit.
I don’t know what we have become and I don’t know what we are becoming,
We are the centuries of audacious poetry compiled into the generations of history, etched across the decades of etymology, and devoured in these years of blasphemy, with writers strangled by censorship, monetary necessity, political popularity, and social media profanity.
We are the months, the weeks, the days, the hours, and the minutes that pass by at the railway station, in the taxi, in the conference room, in the classroom, at the work desk, at the market, and in the seconds before you fall asleep to the distant quiet within your own disquiet, and in the tally of breaths you live by, that are detained within the echoing emptiness of your routine existence,
We have become slaves, not to our suppression but to our own aimless resistance.
We are the helplessness of the poor newspaper seller who reads his time away, in hopes of witnessing change,
We are the suffering of those compelled to dissent on the roads, and we are the privilege of those who lament within air-conditioned condos,
Unknown to the daily rhythms of red tape and money hungry systems, unknown to the dried blood on those government files, ink pens, and sindoor soaked foreheads,
Unknown to the cemetery of men and women who have been buried under these polished marble floors, their recklessness far too intimidating for these hazed hallways, their voices far too loud for these hushed corridors.
Journalism today is a graveyard of all the truths that are not allowed to be spoken.
It is a graveyard, not of the martyrs who died with the bitterness of truth lingering on their lips, but of those who surrendered to the sweet swish of the whip.
It is a graveyard of those who diluted the essence of journalism by never disclosing that oftentimes, the ones who sow flowers on their skin, also submerge their soul in sin.
And so I conclude,
Journalism is an act of war.
If you are bleeding dissertations of destruction,
If you are weeping tragedies of truth,
While having laid your head on the mouth of a guillotine,
While being tied down with the chains of censorship,
Then, aren’t you a soldier too?