Parzania

parzaniaIn a yoga class seven years ago I learnt Om is the natural vibration of the universe. For weeks now, I’m seeing the symbol of the sound on saffron triangular buntings. The Om is encased within the rim of a flaming sun—can anyone, anything, imprison Om? The vibration these buntings cause are not soothing like when we chanted Om and went into meditation, when the master made us pray four times facing four directions invoking peace (sukhino bhavantu) for all. These buntings are aloft, fallen, drawn tight, hung loose, a clutter on the street, a mess. They are surely rousing some to anger, and driving the rest to fear. They are everywhere, also in the muslim areas, taunting the muslims, daring them. Banners fly alongside buntings, and a major political party is the sponsor. The banners demand to know: “Why should we be afraid to say we are hindus, here in Hindustan?” I am hard put to answer: It is written all over my face that I am hindu, and how can I add speech to it with any pride when these chaps kill off a few hundred muslims each time cricket goes into a lull? Moreover, I have said I am hindu wherever I have gone in the world, and until I saw these banners, never thought I need to fear saying it.

Some years ago, in Malleswaram, I walked by a huge gathering addressed by a fiery speaker. His oratory had charged the air and my skin bristled in resonance. The public-address system was strong and clear and his timbre-rich voice carried over the mass of people in the maidan, into buses and cars rolling slowly down the street so they could hear him a bit, and into shops and small restaurants where people sat and listened, rapt. “They ask us to welcome muslims, to welcome everyone. Fine. We will make our home their home. And where shall we go? Where shall we go?” And again, “Where shall we go? Navellige hogona?” He was dreadfully convincing, as fanatics are, masters of rhetoric, masters of the dumb and the docile. That speaker may know now that his countrymen have made the whole world their own.

On Sunday, to the taunts of the buntings a B-grade muslim politician gave response. He chose to grieve publicly for Saddam Hussein three weeks after the hanging. Shops and houses burned in Shivajinagar and its suburbs. An innocent orphan boy aged twelve fell to police firing. The politician said sorry. “Calm returns,” announced the front page of a leading paper in the middle of the week. It is week’s end, and the boy is still dead.

Yesterday night, with thoughts and remembrances like this, I saw Parzania and in it the Gujarat riots. Someone has had the courage to show what happened, and the talent with which to show it. One of our best actors has given a committed performance, and so have the rest of the cast. Very quickly in the movie the quality of its making became irrelevant and I subjectively suffered the evil that triumphs when good men are silent. I ask every Indian to please go see Parzania. Riots must not happen. We must constantly speak out, or we are guilty like them.

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