My father tells me that violence is the very soul of a protest anywhere. That brutality is the very nature of the opposition, no matter what great men say. He tells me that today, the police is right to beat up and fire at my friends speaking up against a law threatening the integrity of our Constitution.
In another 16 days, we are going to enter the year 2020. We dreamed of having flying cars and a robot in every home, by 2020. We dreamed of a utopian age, of justice and prosperity. We dreamed of being alive and being happy to be alive. How come, then, that on the eve of this great year, we are not even sure of our most basic, most fundamental rights? How come, then, that my country is teeming with headless monkeys spreading a diseased, contagious ideology, that justifies discrimination of the most inhumane kind?
India fills me with awe. It is a living example of how even education fails in the face of senseless hatred. Listening to my father support the new citizenship bill has robbed me of whatever little hope I had for humanity and whatever faith I put in education; whatever pride I felt in being the daughter of an educated man.
Perhaps this really is my fault. When he told me a few years back that I am not allowed to marry a Muslim man, I should not have simply rolled my eyes at him. I should have fought with him then, as I am fighting with him now. I have let ignorance and intolerance, and blind hatred, brew in my own house for years, and I am ashamed of myself for doing so.
And I thought it was just me, but apparently, I am not alone. So many friends have shared so many stories of the same kind. The poison of hatred runs deep within our own families, and this is no longer just about politics or human rights. This is personal.
How unbelievable, that even in 2020, the loudest voices of the nation’s media are bought by those who accuse me of being anti-national, whenever I dare to question them, while they themselves pass anti-national laws as if it’s all child’s play. Is India nothing but their sandbox, where they keep kicking up dirt, to blind every other kid into submission?
My father is sitting silently within that sandbox, devoid of all resistance, allowing this dirt-like propaganda to cloud his vision. In the corner, the idiot box blares falsities all day and he believes every single thing it says, worshipping it like a new god.
Perhaps this too is my fault. I have laughed and yelled countless times at the obvious stupidity that I witness on news channels. How many times did I expose the untruths they spread to my friends and family? How many times did I, myself, trust the media when it was convenient for me to do so?
The question today isn’t about whether the most popular news channels are warping news to suggest criminality on the part of student protestors. It is not about whether the government is orchestrating these riots for some messed up personal gain.
It is about you.
Yes, you. Your humanity. Your sense of justice. Your ability to turn deaf in the face of an uncomfortable conversation at home. Your ability to say, “Well, they deserved what they got.” “Some of them WERE protesting violently, weren’t they?” “The police was just doing its job.”
Maybe this government is not strategically targeting you today, you know. But it will be tomorrow. The circle of privilege seems to be forever shrinking. You are only safe if you are an upper-caste Hindu in India and maybe not even then (especially not if you have a vagina, I’d say).
I am terrified to be an Indian today because, in the midst of all this chaos, I have nowhere to go. If I turn to our leaders, I am met with nothing but petty self-interest. If I turn to our upholders of the law, I am met with cold-hearted apathy. If I turn to our media, I am met with cashed-in lies. If I turn to my family, I am met with the most heartbreaking intolerance. If I turn to my God, I am met with my own insecurities of being part of a community that terrorises another.
I am horrified to be sitting at home right now, while so many others are hurting on the streets of my country. I want to be fearless and join the protest but I am afraid. I am afraid of being the target of violence when I have done nothing to deserve it. I know that makes me a coward, and I have no excuse for being so.
But the least I can do, at the moment, is speak up against the voice of hate inside this very house. The least I can do is fight from inside if I cannot fight outside. The least I can do is try to reverse whatever corrupted mindset this government has forced into my home. And do that, I shall. Perhaps, you should too.