Sunday, December 30, 2012

Silent peace march from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar

Yesterday was an eventful day in many ways. It started with a meeting with a yoga and naturopathy doctor at the close-by government-run yoga and natural cure centre. On our way back home, news spread about the loss of the gang rape victim in Singapore. So the day ended with thoughts about the girl and how different people responded to her journey to death. Some even believe she had passed away much earlier and that a scared government was trying to evade from telling the truth in a timely way.

Anyway, what was equally meaningful for me was how my brother responded to the whole situation. My brother is a software engineer by training, who is thankfully less of a 'professional activist' than what JNU is infamous for producing (irregardless of political affiliation). So i tend to give merit to his opinion because i know that his head is less cloudy than mine. He is more directly connected with his inner voice as there is no obvious reason why he should 'sound in a particular way' to meet his own pre-set agendas. His job is to create software and he does a decent job out of it while choosing where to involve himself whereas i over-react many times (let me accept it), cry hoarse and take to heart  almost each and every event that happens in my immediate surrounding. If you think further, as if there is nothing better to do :), there is 'good' and 'bad' in both life choices, anyway.

So, he volunteered to drive me to the peace march yesterday, and expressed his willingness to participate in the march, his first, despite having a forever-in-protest-mode sister like me. 

Photos credit Rahul
Due to  lack of parking space, and my eager, bony a.. just dying to jump out of the moving vehicle in solidarity with the peacefully marching crowd on the other side of the road, we decided to drop me off right there. (Had been a while since i participated in any protest march so was itching to step on familiar ground. Was 'bed-bound' earlier in hospital or was physically removed to an Ashram in Meerut for subsequent therapy post typhoid). My brother was supposed to meet me at any point during the march after parking his car. So his much anticipated participation depended upon availability of parking space! How silly...?!

Two of my centre seniors welcomed me in the long queue on the left side of the road. So i walked with the crowd, without any banner or shouting any slogan, just in a quiet, silent way, the way it was meant to be perhaps. There was mild tension among people carrying cameras, who were trying to click photographs of every moment while themselves sidestepping it (!). They were desperately trying to capture every small movement to encash the 'best shot' later. Talk about competitive photography or media coverage at such events. Some one can very rightly point out that i have done a lot of this too so should drop the righteous face, well i am trying to :). After all, that is the reason why i can easily sense the anxiety behind the constant clicking of shutterbugs, the agendas behind various angles, what gets clicked and what gets cut out of the frame. Most of us know that a photograph first gets clicked in the head just like an article first gets conceptualised in the mind.

While we walked through the traffic exchanging brief updates about recent whereabouts interrupting our own silence, to our embarrassment, a differently-abled lady became a constant centre of attraction for most with cameras. It was as if that lady 'should have' been doing something else, considering her 'condition' BUT, she is so brave or has an extraordinary heart that she came out in protest on her battery-run wheelchair. We don't know what it is to get photographed like that but we did continue getting embarrassed for the lady till quite some time. For all we know she may have been enjoying the extra attention or would be so used to it by now! Her level of comfort in that environment suggested that she too was most likely a 'professional', a rehearsed activist in all probability, who most likely knew her way  around better than others.

In the mean time, my brother had reached Jantar Mantar and was thrown in the midst of a typical  activist environment, with people carrying banners on both sides, police battalions ready for some ugly play in anticipation. When our group was beginning to converge with the larger group present there, i called him to know his location. He just told me how he was wondering why he came there at all! What were some of the activists doing there, competing with each other in terms of who shouted the 'most appropriate' slogan, how many times, whether s/he was followed by an adequate number in rehearsed chorus and at what decibel level? Was that the reason why people do 'peaceful' activism, especially in memory of someone who had to face such a tragic end, my brother wondered. Of course i figured this out by interpreting the pauses and intonations he offered as he disappointingly spoke.

All four of us decided to be on the 'left' side of the group and sat down quietly on the road to offer silent condolences and to absorb the vibration of the place. Unfortunately and frequently, we were disturbed by what we saw or was it our own mind that created the way we viewed unfolding scenarios. Even in supposed moments of mourning, there was constant restlessness among many as they jostled for visibility in front of TV crew or journalists. Not naming names (there is no point in doing that), but one knows workings of familiar faces from organisations and one can't help but observe the often repeated drama. After playing this role in the field, there is competition about who circulates photographs first or writes an e-note about the event first. As expected, before i reached home, news had already started flooding my inbox. Of course i relate to all this because i have been there and done that too. 

My point is to say that yesterday, other than remembering to pray several times for the gang rape victim, i could see more clearly the spaces people choose to occupy publicly. One could pray silently and generate love and goodwill for the departed soul at home, or one could also partially or fully indulge in calculating how to take mileage out of 'the event'. Anyway, to each his own. 

Well, writing this blog post is not any better than what the 'professionals' were doing at Jantar Mantar. Signing off on that note.


  1. Only a person who has deeply (and honestly) looked within, can write what you have written .... Congratulations and keep looking within....

    If we look within, we are bound to become pure .... May we all be pure and peaceful ....

  2. ... Peace to the girl and her family