The Cracked Mirror – In Pandemic Times

In these pandemic times it sometimes feels that one is inundated with WhatsApp forwards, blogs, ope-eds of people who are wrestling with their conscience at the sight of the poor, hungry & destitute, trudging across the country to their homes in far off villages.

Their prose, poetry, anger not only holds up a mirror to themselves but they also want you to share and bear the pain and burden of their guilt.

They jab at words – weep, cry, shame, soul-wrenching – hoping it will pierce your heart, awaken what they believe to be your slumbering emotions towards the less fortunate, into one big chest-beating fest.

And you have to confess it is so easy to get drawn in and forward yet one more lament of grief, thus continuing the cycle of self-flagellation.

However, for a moment do break away from this comforting cocoon of group atonement and ask –

-aren’t these the very people who lived for as long as you can remember in those slums just across your manicured gardens which suck in as much water as their annual requirement?

-the ones who cleaned your homes, which you created from glossy interior design magazines, while they stood in queues for filthy public toilets ?

-or those that laid the Moroccan tiles in your patio for which you, master at workmanship, ‘negotiated’ a rate that you believed to be ‘reasonable’ ?

-or you didn’t want them using your elevators because then it smelled of perspiration?

-the same people you demanded report to work dot on time or face penalization as that’s what people do worldwide …forgetting that most people ‘worldwide’ have a firm roof, water supply, electricity, reliable public transport?

-the ones you roomed in your home with just enough space for a single bed and stuffed the rest with your washing machine, extra suitcases, heaters and old newspapers?

– in whose presence you spoke as if they were not there?

-whose slums you wanted removed without demanding an alternative, respectable living space with basic human amenities?

-who worked in the fit-out in the flat above but you wanted them to sit out in the summer sun at lunch hour because their presence upstairs disturbed your afternoon siesta?

-who got ‘spoilt’ & weren’t ‘grateful’ enough?

-who booked a low cost airline ticket home for the first time and you wondered if you were paying them too much?

-who lugged up four floors a deep four-door refrigerator on their back and also the bespoke bar, because you hadn’t wanted the builder to eat into your square foot area by putting in a larger lift shaft?

-the ones you niggled with for sums of money that would cost you a haircut, pedicure or a packet of cigarettes.

As one article so recently exhorted us

It said ~Actually, this piece is not just about me- it’s also about you, dear reader. Look into that cracked mirror. Do you feel any shame, just a little , for what we have become, for the lost soul of a once great nation? ~

But dear reader, sorry to burst the bubble of these characters who play their roles in self-created Grecian tragedies a bit too slickly –

‘THEY’ have ALWAYS been there! Criminally, as far back as we can see.

They have existed despite us wilfully not hearing them, feeling for them or seeing them.

Yes, all this while they were merely an inconvenient statistic that interrupted Prime Time News when they lost their children to dysentery, malaria, perished in jhuggi fires, or short circuited in overcrowded, inhuman sweatshops stitching Calvin Klein jeans that we paid an arm & leg for when we went shopping overseas.

Believe me if it was not Covid-19, it would have been an earthquake, a cyclone, or any other calamity that would have brought forth the catastrophic scale of Dickensian misery waiting to explode.

That, unfortunately some have only noticed, now.

Ironically, many of those indulging in these sad soliloquys are people of privilege, having enjoyed positions of power, with access to the highest echelons in this country.

For them to suddenly see the reality of their Idea of India, must be indeed, heart wrenching.

So for once, dear reader ask them to put aside that useless self-defeating emotion, shame, that which has been force fed to us over seven decades and take the problem beyond I, Me, Myself.

Because in such extraordinary times more hands on the deck would serve better than snivelling noses…How can we luxuriate in shame and handwringing when there is so much to do?

It would be indeed, interesting to know why do those who ask us to feel shame not encourage us instead to take a cue from ordinary folk, who have never held positions of power, nor possessed much wealth, but have stepped up to help in whichever way they can, showing us that the giving spirit in this country is alive and kicking as never before?

Why don’t we, dear reader, also request these esteemed philosophical sorts instead to inform other ‘esteemed’ members of civil society to stop drafting useless 7-point letters and shut up, because their days of influence are over?

The sooner they recognise their rootlessness, the less time wasted for society at large.

Why don’t they use their old connections instead and push the civil servants of this country to draft simple, clear public notices that serve citizenry?

Also dear reader, why not ask these chest beaters to use their influence and hold local elected representatives responsible for their petty political games. Warning them that electoral wrath awaits them at elections.

May we also suggest to those who suffer from the Switch On Switch Off Guilt Syndrome to not put away that cracked mirror too soon.

Because pandemic or not, that sub-Saharan wretchedness exists just beyond our doorsteps and will come knocking to remind us again and again till we take responsibility.

And yes, apologies! Apologies, for being the harbinger of bad news – there is no beauty in poverty.

And last but not least, dear reader, lets demand they get a grip on themselves, wipe those glycerin tears and contribute positively, constructively or else history will remember them as our Desi Marie Antoinettes … and we know only too well, her story didn’t end pretty.

~Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man made and can be removed by the actions of human beings~ Nelson Mandela

11 Comments

  1. Brilliantly put. Indeed I too
    am deeply cynical about these public servants abd affiliated riffraff who suddenly experience great epiphanies (and discover their consciences) only after retirement. As for the Brahmaputras of crocodile tears being shed over the very real sufferings of the millions struggling on the roads home…I humbly declare I am inspired – and in pitifully small way try and follow – Mother Teresa’s approach: asked if she felt angry about the callous disregard of governments and public to the sufferings of those she took under her wing, she replied that she didn’t have the time to waste being angry: she was too busy taking care of the suffering

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent, madam! I really wished that, more could be discussed about “somebody reporting of our glorious past”…..a little directly, because, those in power and money, are intolerant, others shut up or face the music. Personally i feel, India, perse is yet to define as a nation.. will Covid19 bring this change? The root cause of the problems, is people so far, Rich & powerful, never allowed/ promoted, unification as one nation. When and whenever, our nationhood is defined it shall be the end of all these gimmickry..we shall be talking real business.. However I congratulate you, for discreetly putting across your point…👍👍👍🙏🙏🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Madam. So searingly have you shown a mirror. We have failed as a Society, this nCovid only brought it to fore. It is only a matter of time when everything will get back to “normal”. But I have a fervent hope that atleast a sizeable number of us will take this lesson to heart. And genuinely act in a manner more befitting. More power to your pen.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very well articulated. Exposed the hypocrisy of our Elitist mindset. This will serve as an eye opener for us to look at these people differently during normal times as well

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent!!! True, eye opener vivid expression of human selfish attitude depicted,which is omnipresent across the geographical dimensions.

    Let’s become human and remember that the fragility of life, learn and develop compassion and love, stop hate and shilly anger. We all do realize, but only in the hours of need.

    Thanks for awakening we all. Hope some so called intellectuals will feel with a pinch of salt and get tricked down to we all in due course.
    Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

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