Eyes Wide Shut ….
(From Kubrick’s Illuminati symbolism -the phrase is a calling card among secret societies, meaning – my eyes are shut to your misdeeds, brother -)
~Close your eyes and say a prayer for all that you have done wrong today.~
~Were you rude?~
~Did you lie?~
~Did you borrow something & not return it?~
~Did you make your bed as you were instructed? Because remember in life you lie on the bed you make …~
~Did you take that extra piece of toast?~
~Was it you who broke the beaker in the Lab? Or do you know who did
As our Matron intoned in a low monotone, the new girls with eyes tightly shut ticked off each box.
You could almost hear them think Saved! Saved from the Devil & the hot fires of hell.
A quick one-eyed glance around the dormitory at flannel pajama-clad girls was enough to read who would succumb to the lure of a boiled egg or an extra plate of dessert to reveal the broken beaker culprit.
After a well-played basketball match on Sports Day in which we, Legionaries beat the Marathons, we whooped with delight, screaming, laughing, running around with The Cup, singing our House Song till with a brisk clap of hands we were silenced and admonished for the pride that was now bursting in our chests but soon would consume our lives and soul.
And then there were the distinctions and separations….
Ritu and Viveka of last term but now Rachel and Victoria sat with us on the same dining tables eating mutton curry and fruit cakes, while we shoveled stodgy potatoes and put down thin banana custard.
We never questioned why.
Was it because we saw our unquestioning Malayali nuns, some of whom wonderful mathematics, science & needlework teachers, follow the Belgian ones on their Sunday walk, holding umbrella & shawl, in case either was needed?
Both were Sisters of God but one thought they had a direct hotline to Him and the other was happy to bow to that belief.
After years of dull Doordarshan, satellite tv was beamed into our homes bringing with it an array of channels that we were so unused to.
Instead of stately middle-aged news readers, we had young media anchors who spoke easily on every subject under the sun.
To a Nation that had only looked forward to Chitrahaar, Krishi Darshan, the Sunday movie and then years later that bright spark, The World This Week… we greedily devoured the Star bonanza of world-class studio sets, the new signature tunes of channels that were growing on us, trashy American TV serials and Oprah Winfrey.
The coverage of Kargil brought war for the first time into our homes.
There was no doubt, a niggling irritation at what some of us thought was the amateurish handling of an ‘embedded’ journalist on the Front & then the completely out of their depth interview of the Defence Minister at that time.
In 2001 they further exposed a complete lack of understanding of what a Summit between two, till recently warring nations, meant.
The Oprahfication of our media was now evident.
The emotional commentary playing out nostalgia, a soap opera, the harping on body language as if that was to decide the future of the Indian sub-continent…..
Subsequently, the complete foolishness when a tin-pot dictator took them for a ride using THEM over breakfast to pass a message to OUR government.
Anchor Stars were born.
They were quoted, emulated and their word was taken as gospel truth.
This was what we believed was free media and we were so proud to be a part of the journey that asked, questioned the powers that be.
The coverage of the Gujarat Riots too, made many believe that this was the first riot India had experienced.
By now, the Anchor Stars and op-ed writers took themselves so seriously and believed in their power to turn opinion, compromising facts and truth, to spread what they believed was right.
Looking back to that time, it now becomes evident that the highest bidders within the country & beyond had bought their opinions and pens.
From then onwards it was one long litany of smug, sanctimoniousness.
The entire State of Gujarat was branded ‘traditionally effete’ to have voted in a man (three times, no less) because they believed he was guilty of instigating riots.
A British MP was ticked off on National TV by an anchor for wanting to visit Gujarat because she didn’t think a Supreme Court ruling was enough to declare a CM innocent of the crimes he had been accused off.
Columnists wrote soppy pieces on Track2 & how we must talk to a country which in those days was setting off crude bombs in our cities, trains, buses with impunity.
Killing & maiming us, our children, our soldiers in an orgy of murderous violence.
However, come Eid, they’d go trotting, all smiling, to the Pakistan High Commission to gorge on that biryani soaked in Indian blood.
So who was being had here?
With the talk of humungous corruption, barring a few exceptions, the Media turned deaf, dumb and blind.
No one from the media clamored for a press conference with Madam and what hard-hitting questions could be asked of a puppet while he enjoyed his position only at the mercy of a Super Prime Minister?
Enough has been said about when we became suspicious that we were being slowly poisoned with arsenic by the very people who had donned the mantle of our conscience & were supposedly our voice.
The exposure of Radia Tapes the coverage of 26/11, an imagined coup & a beholden Prime Minister’s confession that a select community in our democracy had the first right to the country’s resources opened our eyes.
Social Media, of course, brought it to us, unadulterated and gave us a platform to give it back in equal measure.
The result of which, was the rout of the Congress Party and the shredded reputation and credibility of our media stars along with the industry they had spawned of panellists, psychologists, political and election analysts, social commentators….
Therefore, when those two broken glass panes were used to tar us intolerant by these high falutin lobbyists, on one day Oprah on the other Christiane Amanpour, something snapped in the collective consciousness of the people.
~F*ck you! You don’t get to guilt trip us~
From that episode through the intolerance drama, the Award Wapsi, the Gau Rakshaks, the Tukde Tukde Gang, the jibes at the PM, the mocking of the various successful schemes, the elimination of Burhan Wani, the launching, the re-launching of the Clown Prince, his sister, the ‘Hindu semen’ filled balloons & the circumcised genital recently identified as Nationalist have been taken on, thrashed & junked.
Whatever you might say of the initial anger even panic, we have come out stronger and most times enjoyed a good laugh at their expense. Frankly, bringing them down has been a National catharsis of sorts, a purging of deep anger.
These once powerful people who had direct access to the top echelons of this country have been reduced to a bunch of irrelevant whiners, finding little joy in imagined glitches of National assets, whose feet have been cut off but are still staggering around sharing WhatsApp messages, weakly and weekly battling us Internet Hindoos, and croaking peans to a failed, rogue state.
Not to say, repeat, not to say, that Frankenstein cannot rise again…..
However, it is in our hands & we have the power to slay it.
~Sister~ said a slight young girl, rising from her dining chair.
~May I also have a slice of the fruit cake ?~
A hall of hundred watched her aghast.
But within seconds, even before her voice could resonate through that high ceilinged room, around seventy-five other girls stood up with quarter plates in hand.
The scrapping of the chairs being pushed back, brought in a few nuns wondering what was the noise.
~They want the same as ~… the stammering Malayalee nun pointed to Rachel & Victoria.
Sister Antonisia with her piercing blue eyes, assessed the situation quickly and smiled ~Tomorrow! We will bake many more tomorrow…~
And tomorrow it was.