The morning always starts with a cursory glance at the newspaper. With the cup of tea poised between the thumb and index finger of one hand, the other hand is ready to flip the page.Not much time to go into details then, the clock keeps ticking towards ‘office time’, an unsurmountable deadline.
Infact the news is also pretty much predictable now a days. More pro-capitalist stands, more environmental violations, more price-rise. Everything leaves a momentary bad taste in our mouth but that hardly lasts long. We wash it down with the hastly prepared breakfast.The maid, if we managed to afford one, is hardly in a mood for edible cooking in the morning.But no luxury to carp over burnt toast or watery dal, ‘office time’ gets omniously close.And by the time we get the ‘dabba’, check the ID card and manage to hit the road for office, other thoughts are pushed out of mind by plans for the day, to-do lists and so on.The huge inflation makes managing a pay-rise imperative. The EMIs have to be paid on time, the credit card bills cleared and also a bit of savings for cloudy days.We are hard-pressed, aren’t we?
So a bet can be safely wagered that when we saw, reading takes a time annd alertness we do not spare, the news of another north-east guy being beaten to death in Delhi, the outrage and sadness that welled inside us had subsided perhaps before the cripsiness of morning paper mellowed, just like it happened six months ago.Six months?Yes, it has just been six months that Nido Tania had been murdered in Delhi.What for? because he was from north-east.
Is that a crime to belong from a certain part of a country, one’s own country?
Is is a crime to look different?
Is is a crime to venture into the mainland just because we happen to dangle at the end of a chicken neck?
Nido Tania and Akha Salauni were killed by some uneducated and ill educated people, an argument is hurled by our mainland counterparts, over tea and coffee, luncheons n dinners.They tch-tch the incidents.Not that they bad people, faking their sympathies.It is just that people who arent from north-east cannot understand it, because they donot understand what north-east is. For them, NE is exotic somewhere which adds a certain X-factor to the image of India;an essential but not-so-welcome appendage..perhaps like our maid..her presence is essential for the timely tea and food, but she is hardly allowed to use the dinner table.
Coming to the point of ill-educated and uneducated which I popped in the first line of the last para,how can one justify the statement made by the top notch manager of an MNC, “everything beyond west-bengal is simply bengal for us”? How can one justify the statement made by a retd. Colonel that all villages in and around Bishwanath Chariali is occupied by Bangladeshis who weld guns?They donot lack in education. Just that they do not care to know.A prejudiced idea, based not on facts, is all they have.And no one is ever ashamed of not knowing about us because we do not matter to them.Do we ever know about the place where our Dudhwala or Dhobiwala?Do we ever care how we mock their inability to come during days of flood or when there is an eviction going on?Our utility lies in Assam tea and oil-fields, in Tawang and Scotland of East, in open coal-mining, rabid destruction of forest cover. We are remembered for Kaziranga and silk, we are remembered for momos.We are remembered when Mainland China requires waiters with mongoloid features.
Beyond these, our lives and identities are immaterial.
When China decides to show Arunachal as their territory, the shop keepers of Munirka do not get agitated because they do not have the time.Their lives revolve around the price of rice and dal.Even those youths with fancy cars with yo yo honey singh blazing from the sound box do not get agitated because they do not bother to know. It is people like us who can angry on China’s foreign policy, on Land Border Agreement with Bangladesh and so on.It is those people who try to support AFSPA applicable in Manipur and Mizoram without even bothering to know what it means.It is these people who cannot even point out the different states in the map.Ask them about Sharmila, they shall reply ‘Tagore’. Ask them about Manoroma, they shall reply ‘six feet under’. They hail Anna Hazare and donot know about Irom Sharmila Chanu who is tried for attempt to commit suicide because she is on an indefinite fast to repeal AFSA.They donot know about Manorama who was raped and then was pumped with bullets by Indian Army.They donot know about those brave ladies who paraded naked in the streets of Imphal and asked Army to rape them as a protest to Manorama killing.They donot feel ashamed to hail this very Indian Army!Ask them about severing NE from India, they shall take up arms!Love?No. It is pure greed covered up with the garb of nationalistic spirit.And this spirit goes into an in definite hibernation when people from Manipur,Mizoram,Nagaland(these are the very NE states we are talking about.The names are unfamiliar, aren’t they?Not much used,I admit) get taunted and lynched.This spirit doesnt wake up when girls from Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal are termed as easy and cheap because we are not you.
Lucky are you people whose identity is well established.Lucky you are because you donot get caught in cross-fire.Lucky you are because you donot have the fear of being killed if you raise your voice.Lucky indeed you are because you are an integral part of India.
Nido Tania and Akha Salauni(how many of you remembered the name till you reached this line?) were brave enough to speak out loud against the slurs most of us choose to ignore to remain safe.They too could have kept silent, and crossed pretending that nothing happened, those were just druken blabberings, like we mostly do.And then pat ourselves with the line, ‘Discretion is preferred to valour’. They didnot.Because they were fools.Fools indeed they were to think that their lone voice shall be heard, fools to think that the death of two unwanted north-eastern guys would scratch the collective conscience of people!What did they think themselves to be!One-horned rhinos or hollock gibbons! they were two of too many homo-sapiens whose deaths ring no bell.
We have learnt to live with your distaste, our fellow-mainlanders.We have learnt to ignore your pinches about our eyes, our straight hairs, our glowing skins.That is what makes us so attractive to your menfolk, isnt it?So you call us cheap too,we remain silent.We have also learnt to laugh,hiding out sadness, at the ignorance you display regarding a part of the country you profess to love.We have also decided to be patient when you doubt our citizenship and tell that what we speak is not the proper language.
We have decided to bear everything and go along with you,because we do not have the courage, because we do not want to die.