…Where paradoxes coexist!
No controversies here. No attempt at it either.
My realities are mine from my life in this lifetime. My normal is what normal is, by definition. I am no celebrity. I have no political leanings. My religion wreaks of humanity. I live by strict personal moral rules. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a wife. Hence I am a daughter-in-law. I am a mother. I am a fierce Indian. And I am also my own relentless critic.
And Yes! I live in two Indias.
I have lived an armed forces life. Grown up in the most democratic cantonments. I have gone to my school’s chapel early every morning and have had ‘kada prasad’ after a paath (prayer meeting) too. My friends were people I loved to be with – their state and father’s rank did not matter. I made fun of my teachers, like all students my age, irrespective of their surnames. I loved to wear a mekhla chaddar (Assamese dress) as much as I loved my jeans.
I speak English and Urdu spersed Hindi, which is my mother tongue, with equal elan. I love the beauty of Rajasthan as much as I love the outdoors of Kaziranga. The North east mesmerizes me as much as the Nilgiris of the south. I have seen & studied in Kashmir and taken in its beauty when strife had not torn it apart. I have also seen undivided states when regionalism was never the buzz word. I have felt proud of every new landmark, anywhere in my country and felt ‘Indian’ pride rather than any other.
I have loved to showcase being an Indian from a country which has a history of the Great Ashoka and the Mighty Akbar, of architecture which was purely Mughal or typically locally, of handicrafts rich as no where else in the world, of a Bharatanatyam dance along with the Garba – my lists are endless. Yet I am critical of our lack of civic sense in our own country and the disregard for preserving our old as we make way for the new.
I love the immense progress which we have made by becoming a hub of many multi-giant corporations, yet I despise the lack of consistency of work habits as a nation.
I abhor the mindless and numerous projects and campaigns which our revered political diaspora start before and after each election, yet I so deeply believe in our democratic set up as the largest democracy of the world.
I delight in the huge number of equal gender representation in innumerable professions I see around me, yet I shudder at those discriminations and abuse which I know happen somewhere and oft go unreported because of societal pressures.
I have enjoyed being a daughter and have never had any restrictions imposed on me nor faced comparisons of gender with my brother, being born in a highly progressive, open and democratic family, yet I know that despite “beti padao, beti bacchao’ (educate the girl child, save the girl child) campaign, the realities for scores of girls remain bleak in reality and rosy only on paper.
Marriage did not change my life like it does for many across my country, I continued to live it on my terms due to numerous reasons, yet I know it changes 360 degrees for a majority of women in my country.
Coming from affluence and money has never given my young son a license to splurge or party like there’s no tomorrow, yet a majority of the rich and the famous of my country still think they can re-write the laws and bend them to suit their whims & digresses.
We have the largest billionaires, the biggest stars, the mammoth conglomerates of the world, yet we have a miserly number of role models.
We profess to be a God fearing majority, yet we often end up doing acts which would make God shudder himself.
I have been a part of the education system for decades and many like me strive each day to bring about that difference in every child we teach, yet a large majority of children go without books and formal schooling in every part of my country.
Yes we live with the good and the ugly. We live with progress and squalor. We triumph in small things and ignore the bigger picture. We forget to think globally amidst our mundane local thought processes.
This is the India I live in. This is also the India I love. This is also the India I am extremely critical of. This is also the India I feel sometimes becomes unliveable. This is also the India which remains an enigma for many of us. And yes like everyone else elsewhere, in every country: My India has its two facets too, nee many!