Come, lets go dreadfully back in time
I have been reading a book of short stories by Milan Kundera, one of the best known Czech authors. He is actually a Czech and French writer of Czech origin. Some of you, who haven’t read the author, may be familiar with the name because the guy has been in news recently for having allegedly once betrayed a spy to secret police. The author has however denied any such incident.
The book which has stories alluding to love and sexuality reminded me of how constrained we are as a society. In a particular story, a nurse trying to seduce the doctor performs a mock strip-tease and the gathered people end up discussing how the doctor should give in to the advances for the sake of her. I couldn’t fail to notice the openness of language and the candidness in referring to so many topics that we pride ourselves in banning in our beloved country. The head of the medical department does not stop the drunk woman from doing her quick dance despite the other doctor in question sitting there all blushed and embarrassed, and the fourth person in the group – a lady doctor who finds the young nurse very annoying, sits there quietly letting her articulate herself. Agreed it is a book of fiction but books, in any case, are some of the better sources of interesting insights into the lives and cultures of people far away that we cannot physically talk to. The author himself has found many of his books banned because of unsuitability to the values. But you have to read them to know why those books are banned. Even 10% of that written here would mean the author being chained, sawed and sent to space in an empty barrel with Rakhi Sawant for company.
I did imagine such a conversation unreservedly taking place in most educated homes in India and was suitably relieved about the freedom of expression. But I cannot fathom such a conversation taking place in most parts of our country. Which according to my limited understanding of psychology means suppressed opinions and needs? And which in turn means going about your life with concealed views and never knowing the bohemian pleasure of thinking beyond what is obvious in your own life. And this, even in close relationships like that of parent-child or husband-wife. And there is no reason to suspect this is not the case in India with news about Sati and child-marriage shockingly surfacing every now and then.
And just in case you wondered why I found the freedom of expression reassuring, (because that’s what I wondered when I gave the post a quick re-read)? Well. A bikini in Big Boss means a court case. Some flaunting of affection by couples in (or not, but how does it matter) love means Valentines Day is banned. The suggestion of inclusion of sex education in schools means a laughable furor. I mean I personally find Valentines Day too frivolous and I also believe that there has to be some amount of judgment that needs to be exercised when you are doing something that may impact other people. But how can you tell somebody else what they should wear or say or do! Who gave Bajrang Dal or Raj Thakrey’s men the power to decide what the rest of us Hindus or Maharashtriyans think? I cannot believe Christians cannot breathe in peace in Karnataka and Orissa; or north Indians cannot walk without being plagued by fear in Maharashtra! Ok, taking an example - what Hussein did was objectionable because it affected the religious beliefs of people from another religion but isn't that something in another league altogether? I think that falls under the category of society as a concept having been actually instituted so that people can peacefully live together... But at least let them 'Live' together.
Anyway with all this is happening around us shamefully, talking about societal constraints related to sexuality looks like a case of trying to jump to the fiftieth century, when people around you are stuck in the first.
No seriously, what is happening here? Did I miss a news piece somewhere being aired through our omnipresent Indian media, which declared the rechristening of India into hell?
Not to forget, here's wishing everyone a very bright and happy Diwali! :)