Friday, June 15, 2007

Stop, Stop This Hypocrisy!

This is dishonest, this is cheap, stop this hypocrisy, why are you doing this? What do you get by doing this?

These are questions that came to my mind when something happened before my eyes yesterday. How can I describe the revulsion I felt? Ineffable.

A man had entered the first class compartment. He was dressed in a dirty, grimy shirt, and his head was wet all over. He must have walked in the rain. He was dark, small and wiry. Immediately a man warned him rudely, rather cruelly, “Get out, this is first class, you aren’t allowed her.”

“What? Don’t you know? Have you come from some village?”

“Why don’t you be in your own ‘aukhadh’”?

This is a very dangerous territory this territory of “aukhadh.” Yes, I have heard it plenty of times, in movies, in daily soaps, in daily conversation. We all have our “aukhadh” and do not venture out of it. The man’s “aukhadh” was the second-class compartment and he was not supposed to be in first class.

What followed was unbelievable. The entire compartment joined as one to ridicule, shout, upbraid the small man who looked around like a cornered animal. I could do nothing except feel sorry for him, while none of my fellow travelers felt anything.

Are our own countrymen, though a bit poor, the object of such ridicule? Or is it that poverty is the new hate word, the way we stereotype and persecute people based on their caste, religion, social class etc.

In which case is it “class war” of another kind?

Just a few hours ago I watched as a similarly poor man carrying a polyethylene bag the sort in which cement is packed was stopped by the policemen on security duty at the Vashi railway station.

The policemen were there to check if terrorists were carrying explosives, guns, or weapons of terror. Many people just waked past the seated policemen and they didn’t give them a second glance. For all I know they could have been carrying the worst form of RDX in their bags. They just walked past the comfortably seated policemen, all three of them.

But this man was stopped. Because he was poor, his dress was dirty, and his hair was unwashed. He looked as if fortune and riches hadn’t favored him.

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Lizza said...

John, Where did this happen? How infuriated I would have been and am to think that all those people would shout at and disparage the little guy!
Thanks for the thoughtful post.

John said...

hI lIzza,

It happened in New Bombay, in one of India's most progressive cities.

The surprising thing was how my fellow travellers turned to him with such vehement hatred. I was so shocked. Isn't there any compassion left in this world?