Epiphany of Justice

The stench of freshly laid cow dung cakes was having a visually noticeable effect on my cameraman’s expressions. For me it was nostalgic in a way. The thing with being a reporter is, you can’t procrastinate. Editors are always on your heels for the next big scoop. We broke the lazy silence of this village, courtesy to the sweltering Punjabi summer. After much inquiry we knocked on what was supposed to be Jarnail Singh’s house.

“Sat Sri Akal! Does Jarnail Singh reside here?” I tried to have an apologizing tone, looking at the apparent displeasure of the sleepy young lady who opened the door.

“Oh, Dadaji? Wait a minute.” She hastened back into the house, leaving the door half open.

After a while a man, who appeared to be her husband attended us. He had no idea what had happened and why we were looking for Jarnail Singh. We tried explaining as he told us about his family history. He was Jarnail Singh’s grandson. His father died few years ago, and his late uncle’s name was Satwant Singh. He escorted us to his grandfather’s room.

Jarnail Singh was 92 years old now. On the table to his right was a picture of his younger days. Presumably just after his marriage. Looking at his wrinkles after looking at that picture could make one understand the frailty of human life. His hands in state of constant shaking, barely managing to hold the rosary in his right. We were told that he didn’t speak or listen clearly anymore. We could try.

I took my microphone out, the cameraman switched on the lights and focused on the man seemingly on his deathbed.

“Your son Satwant was killed in a fake encounter in 1991, the court has given a life-term to 47 policemen today, how do you feel?” His eyeballs turned to us, but that was it.

I repeated the question loudly. I asked his grandson to try and explain what we wanted to ask. I wished it was like movies, he would shed a tear to signal his joy or pain. Not because I wanted to capture it for my newsbyte, I just wanted the man to feel a sense of justice. His senses failed him when it mattered.

More than his senses, we failed him. The justice that we as a society served, stale and fatuous. After 26 years, I knock on the door to congratulate a man that justice has been done. He’s there, but can’t feel a thing. He’s there, but justice was too late to his rescue. His ears must have waited for so long to hear that news but they gave up before it arrived. As I walked back and the whiff of cowdung stuck us again, I felt slight contentment that he couldn’t hear the insult we call justice, anymore.

Based on – 1991 Pilibhit Fake Encounter

Who will guard the guards?

All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.

-Immanuel Kant
We are growing up in a time when every time something happens society looks for someone to blame. The scapegoat society. Anti-India slogans? JNU is bad, shut them down. Beef ban? RSS is bad, shut them down. Rapes? Chowmein is bad (Hi Delhi Police!). Are our choices limited to binary? Is their just a good side and a bad side and we are supposed to take one of them? In case you try taking a middle route, you will be somehow pushed to one side by those who see things as just good and bad.

 

January 30, 2016. Mahatma Gandhi’s Death Anniversary. Hindu Mahasabha celebrated the death of Mahatma Gandhi. Distributed sweets and wowed to make India a Hindu nation. In their own words-

“We do not believe in the idea of a secular Constitution. When India officially declares itself a Hindu Rashtra, Godse will be declared its hero and Gandhi’s assassination would be declared a national festival,” Pandit Sharma said.

How is worshiping the assassin of the Father of Nation not a wrong that is as bad as calling Afzal Guru a martyr?

Justifying one wrong with someone else’s wrong is has become the society’s tendency. I am not here to justify, just to ask why was it not termed inflammatory or even seditious if we look from the recent narrow perspective of the authorities.

I was informed by people claiming to be RSS supporters that Nathuram Godse was a hero. He did it for the nation. Further, Gandhi was tagged as British appeasing, biased, sociopath, bootlicker, racist, castiest, pervert, traitor and inhuman. Further abuses can be read as articulated in this picture below.God Se

Just wait a minute. Don’t be outraged over the fact that this might not be the philosophy or thinking of every RSS supporting person. I am aware, I am absolutely aware. But why we as a society are not aware that similarly, few students shouting anti-India slogans does not make the whole Institute anti-India.

If glorifying Nathuram Godse is nationalism, then no one has the right to object if I start worshipping Indira Gandhi’s assassins or maybe Afzal Guru. Every criminal justifies his acts, in their mind they are correct. Don’t make us read Nathuram Godse’s statements in court and his diaries to justify Gandhi’s killing. Killing someone is not your right, howsoever bad the person was. If I don’t agree with your opinion, doesn’t mean I am going to kill you and justify it later.

My blood too boils when I hear people shouting slogans like “Bharat tere tukde honge..”. But taking law in your own hands just because you prematurely adjudged someone as a traitor. How justified is that?

You saw it, I saw it, everyone saw it. OP Sharma, an MLA from Delhi beating a person on the apprehension that he belonged to the JNU. Police personnel duly watching from the sidelines with their hands in pockets, as the new vigilante took birth, cleaning the supposed scum of the nation from the streets. And the FIR finds no mention of his name. Squeaky clean.

You have the custody of an alleged traitor. His past court appearances have been eventful with mobs thrashing media personnel in court premises last time it happened. Supreme Court has issued guidelines to make things better in this appearance. After all these arrangements, few supposedly nationalistic lawyers, with tri-colour in their hands breach your futile arrangements and manage to hit Kanhaiya Kumar. You had one job mate.

Just having a tri-colour in your hand or saying bharat mata ki jai before you kill or hit someone doesn’t justify it. Are we still raising Nathuram Godses today, who kill or hit someone when they think it’s justified to do so?

Dissent is essential. Without dissent there can be no dialogue, no democracy. Remember emergency? I recall my dad telling me how all non-congress stalwarts we see to today, be it Lalu Prasad Yadav, Atal Bihari Vajpayi or  Parkash Singh Badal, all were put in jail for having their own views. The views that the government didn’t like. Being an offshoot of the anti-emergency alliance, atleast BJP must realise how important free speech and restricting police action is. Government is correct in my honest opinion to arrest someone and look out for others. That’s their job. Here we as a society are failing when we are branding everyone from JNU as anti-national, every person conforming to left ideology is being seen suspiciously. You might not be falling for such far fetched allegations, but I have a general idea of it. Go to any news site with news about Lawyers beating Kanhaiya. Read those wonderful comments. They all are happy and celebrating that a person was beaten in public. They are endorsing mob justice. #ShutDownJNU is trending, because why not. After all everyone there, is a traitor.

I am not critical of government or students or the police or media. I am here on the sidelines, looking at this circus. Looking at how everyone is trying to maximize their benefit from a situation. Right winged institutions having an opportunity to show supposedly left university as anti-national (remember West Bengal and Kerala polls are coming?). Congress and left trying to show solidarity with the student community for political goodwill. Mainstream Media calling JNU students and bashing them, because all hail mob justice!(hi Arnab!). Delhi Police showing how ruling party bashing a person in public is a minor incident and how tough it is to spell OP Sharma in an FIR. I am too writing this post trying to get the Certificate of Nationalism from the right as well as left school of thoughts by trying to tread on a neutral line.

Blind folded police, with their hands tied behind their back, silently watching as a mob comes and beats up a person who was in their custody, looking over a man taking law in his own hands, beating a person just because his ‘blood boiled’. Not a pretty picture. In the end the question remains, Who will guard the guards?

Indian-Army-Day-Parade

The Apartheid Within

“Indians and Dogs are not allowed”. Imagine being meted out this inferior treatment in your own country, in your own land. After more than 60 years have passed since our forefathers fought nail and tooth for all this independence we revel in today. Yet there remains a systematically discriminatory framework which mocks their sacrifices in the most institutional of manners.

Indian Armed Forces. Here we are with questions that I seek answers to. And I am going to try and address the elephant in the room. From restaurants in Army cantonments to Hospitals for the veterans, I have seen that ‘Indians and dogs not allowed’ mentality hasn’t freed our minds even after Britishers left. These discriminatory practices mock fundamental rights in their face. Pardon me for my diminutive understanding of Indian Constitution, if I see it wrongly.

Let me give you little background to help you understand the situation better. My father joined the Indian Air Force in 1980s, after nearly 26 years of service he took voluntary retirement as a JWO, that is Junior Warrant Officer. Now some work structure of the Indian Army. Workforce is largely divided into 2 parts, that is Airmen and Officers (These days both are collectively called Air Warriors, which I understand is an effort to lessen the divide). Every Rank you gain, like every government service brings in better pay and better amenities. Thanks to the Colonial Era, Indian Military system had and still has two very distinct categories of soldiers whose living, eating and mingling with each other wasn’t really allowed. My understanding is that Officers consisted of British citizens and it was natural for them to not allow people from supposedly ‘lower’ ranks to mingle with them, and these were Indians if you didn’t guess it. JWO is a ‘lower’ rank as seen from that perspective.

Let me bring you to present with some incidences.

First one – My mom’s not well and we are at a Military hospital for Ex-servicemen. We all submit our smart-cards and wait for the doctor at OPD to call us up. Several senior citizens have been waiting for hours to have their turn. And thank lord, there is a priority entry for any senior citizen. As we all patiently wait, a man in his 40s walks smoothly to the smart-card counter, shows his card and gets an instant call into the doctor’s cabin. Yes, the same british-era perks are still present. You guessed it, Officers of the Indian Military forces. Why would you think a relatively young man will wait for lesser humans like Senior Citizens?

It broke my heart. People barely able to walk will have to keep waiting but someone with a higher rank will parachute into the doctor’s cabin. I always thought Hippocratic Oath was to treat patients equally and with utmost care. But there is no reason to blame the doctors and not even the army, when the whole system in place advocates for oppression.

Second one – Mom was operated and we are at Command Hospital, Pune. It’s vast and has public access. While Mom sleeps and recovers from anaesthesia administered to her we go to an on-site canteen. There are two doors to come inside. One is made of reflective cut glass, one is made of dull blue painted wood. As I take my seat on a table I realise there are two halves of the restaurant, one is where I am sitting, other is built on a step higher. I can read the board saying “Officers and Medical Students”. There is a waiter, but he wouldn’t come to your table, he does but only if you sitting on the other side. The ‘Higher’ side. The walls on the other side are well painted, my side is good just that the paint is tarnished. So is my soul. I suddenly realise how was it to be in British India or how was it in apartheid era South Africa, where you could have the money and means to travel first class but you were not worthy of it.

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The Higher Side

Am I dirty or filthy? Or is there a disturbance that my presence will set in your tranquil solitude? Isn’t that a place of public access where you are making compartments without a reasonable reason? Am I too little to sit near you? You have put a curtain between us, am I so perverse that you can’t look at me or I can’t look at you?

The same place, same menu, same price. And I face discrimination thanks to my dad’s rank. Or even if I was civilian, thanks to me being just a little human who can’t eat in the same place as an Officer’s family does.

It was tea-time. I went to a different canteen, once again in the hospital campus. For a moment I couldn’t see compartmentalization and that gave me hope that things are changing for better. And their it was, that beautiful curtain. Saving noble eyes from sight of us poor humans, with the board kindly announcing that I was not welcome. Telling me that you can pay the same price, you can be as good as you want to be, but we will never let you in.

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Curtains, because peasants are bad on the eyes

I can write incident 3 and 4 and then 5, I can talk hours on how this institutionalised discrimination belittles a man and his service for the nation by disallowing his family to have access to basic amenities. But I wouldn’t. It will again be the same rant with no conclusions. In my understanding, ranks should get you more payment and perks but one’s rank should not let his or her family being humiliated on places of public access. Ranks decide your pay, they cannot in any way create a lesser human and more human criteria in a constitutional democracy. Imagine going to a public park in a civil establishment, and not being allowed access to it if your Income Tax return wasn’t above a particular amount last year.
I am not blaming Officers or the Military. They are are just a cog in the wheel. They didn’t decide this, they didn’t do it. It was done long back by the British. It’s the system that needs to be reformed. For the sake that children and families don’t end up being humiliated for a practice that should have been long abolished. So that our senior citizens don’t have to wait longer for medicines. So we can kill this apartheid within.

And it’s not just another random rant, I am aggrieved and fed up from this years of humiliation. Writing a letter to Chiefs of military staffs and commands remains on my to-do list. Further, if it seems legally viable, a PIL to stop such practices.

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Confessions of an Addict

Kindly Note- This is just a sketch I wrote from a particular perspective. This is not my personal story. Purely fictional. Just a clarification, because many friends felt this was real and were concerned. Cheeeel. k?

“It’s not like I am  not aware. What’s that term we use for being aware of stuff… Man I am losing my mind, it’s a very basic term. Yes, so where was I? umm, yes, the aware thing. I know it. I wake up with it, I sleep with it. I know all I am doing is wasting my time, I mean, I had a good brain they said. Could have been a scientist or some shit. Yes! I remember. Haha I still have some memory left. The term is ‘consciousness’. Like, I am conscious. I am totally aware of my shortcomings. I know I am ruining my life by just sitting over here, pushing keys on this damn keyboard, talking random things to random people I am never gonna see. And when I am not doing that, I am busy playing World of Warcraft. I know it all.

You know, I had friends. Like, real ones. We used to play outside when we were younger. They really cared. Sometimes they call, to see if I am alive. Or maybe they share my hope. Hope of getting outside this cycle I am in. You ever saw a Hamster wheel? That damn Hamster keeps running, the wheel moves but it’s just there. Is that hamster being playful or just too hopeful? I am a Hamster.

Sometimes I try to beat these demons in me. I go out, sit in parks, try to socialize. But you know, who wants to talk to a fatload of a person who can barely mumble out words from his mouth. Carrying on normal day to day tasks have become my towering achievements. Bathing once a day, waking up early, remembering birthdays of people close to me. These have become my achievements if some days I manage to pull them off. I woke up early today, felt so good. I mean, not physically, my eyes still burn. But mentally, it’s like I had control of my life for that particular moment I forced myself to wake up.

I think of rehab at times. Telling your friends that they need help is easy. Telling it to yourself is tough. You are the problem. You are suggesting a solution. No one accepts being the problem. Do they? It just doesn’t work out. Some day I wish I will be that kid I once was. Reading books, making sand castles with friends, cycling to new adventures. One day I will get over this phase, I will look back and smile and congratulate myself for all the hope I had. I will call my friends who cared and thank them for being there even when I wasn’t. I am already crying now. I am just choked. These dreams. All they need is little changes in me and yet they are so far. These little changes are too far, I have tried. I have tried to change and then like a rubber band my life snaps. And then I am back to the same life, same cycle. Fuck it I am going back online.”

Why Firefox must survive

I remember when pen drives were a technological luxury and burning CD-ROMs was the only way to transfer large files from one computer to other. It’s amusing when I think how I had a case of 100 blank CDs I used to fill with content from neighbors and friends. Along with Pen drives, internet too wasn’t considered a basic right like we do today. Dial-ups that made you wait forever once you decided to load Yahoo! dot com were the norm. That was the time I discovered Firefox. I had Fifa 2002, Road Rash and Motocross Madness 2’s demo on that disc I copied from a friend’s computer.

It will sound crazy but the fact that I could access internet without clicking on that blue Internet Explorer icon felt revolutionary. That fox-engulfing-the-globe logo was a geek’s cool factor at that time. Coming from IE 5, tabbed browsing felt unreal. In my mind I was mumbling “Why didn’t they think of it before?”. Enough with my nostalgia. Like, Winamp Player, Space Cadet Pinball, Groveshark & Napster, Firefox will probably be part of Internet folklore in future.

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Is it abnormal to have have feelings for software? I need to see a shrink I guess

Imagine there was no Firefox. Just Internet Explorer stagnantly holding the world browser market share. The web, running like Microsoft would want it to run. We have been blessed to have various browsers and browsing engines competing to render the best of web for us today. As economics teaches us, competition is good. In a quest to one-up each other in the browser-sphere, browser makers are constantly trying to add features, streamlining performance and adding support for upcoming standards.

Emergence of Chrome and Safari with the Webkit engine on the scene has been one of the most important events in web-browser history. Thanks to Apple forcing Chromium on every browser on iOS and Google’s gigantic influence on the web, within a decade everything we know as a web browser is adopting Webkit. The web is heading for a monopoly. And once again economics teaches us that monopolies are bad, real bad. It totally looks like a build-up to a stagnant web to a skeptical like me.

Few years back, Opera, my favorite browser at that time, adopted Blink, a fork of Webkit. This meant the poweruser’s favourite browser was dead, along with the Presto Engine. Opera’s decision can be justified in terms of markets and business. With a market share of less than 2% it wasn’t an insane decision in any sense. Surely, that workforce can be deployed to some other worthy venture for Opera. But in the end, for the company that invented tabbed browsing, speed dials, private tabs, mail and IRC integration, gestures etc and was at the helm of web innovation for more than 20 years, it felt like a death to me. Consider this paragraph as a eulogy.

Opera 12
Opera 12. The last version when Opera was the browser we loved.

What concerns me is the fact that Firefox’s gecko is the last major open source rendering engine left apart from Webkit. Imagine a world without firefox, or maybe with 2% usage share. Would the developers care to make their sites compatible for all the engines?  or will they simply make sure the site runs of Webkit based browsers, because that’s what everyone will be using.

Webkit being everywhere will surely bring consistency, lesser headaches for developers and uniform implementation of web standards. But will a lone horse care to run faster if it knew it’s the only one in the race? Innovation is the best by-product of competition and here, typing this on Firefox I met 12 years back I can only hope our kids don’t wake up to a stagnant web.

Back to Life

When candies were my biggest vice,

Used to say my mind, no disguise.

When everyone was nice I thought,

Before these prejudices I was taught.

 

When sleep demanded no pills ,

And mother’s kisses could heal all ills.

When heroes were real in my mind,

Far from reality, this mess entwined.

 

Make me six again I pray,

It was false, but just let it stay.

All this world of discord and strife,

Just bring me back from this afterlife.

 

 

 

 

Benefits

Laying under these covers, you by my side, I wonder how you do it. How we end up entangling ourselves to extreme proximities and yet you are devoid of any shred of feelings. Is this what is like to live without a heart? Do you ever feel the void like I do, after you leave every morning? I find myself feeling like this is a business deal. You get what you want and I get to fuck the love of my life. What more should I expect from my life. But ask me. Ask me and I will tell you. What is like to being close and yet being so far. The pleasure of you being inside me, laid to death with the coldness of your emotionless face. I have you everyday, in hope I will have you one day.

Weren’t you the charmer from the start. We both knew all we wanted was to end up in a bed. Shushing our carnal urges there and moving on. What I didn’t, was that I will be stuck in this cycle of wanting you as a whole or nothing but still not willing to leave the part I have. Are we even friends? Or just beneficiaries of lust. It was great until feelings crept in, until the day I wished that you were mine.

Love stories and those overtly passionate lovers look foolish. You hear about all those people who did stupid stuff for their love. Like hanging themselves, getting stupid tattoos or even blowing their brains out with a gun. But once you are in this ditch yourself, in a corner of your mind you know love is taking control, making you do all sorts of stuff you never wanted to. Is it like God loves playing around with people’s minds with this feeling called love? One moment and this Chemical imbalance in your brain leaves you thinking about that one person all the time. Ruining every moment you could have spent peacefully without thinking about them.

Remember when we used to talk? When we were friends and not just silent fuck dolls. With a lighted cigarette on my lips I often ply the streets of this city figuring out what happened to the charm of this city. This city, all welcoming and warm from outside. Come a little closer and you see how cold it is. Neighbours barely knowing each other. You, seem to me like the city took a human form.

Never grew up. Still having outrageous fantasies like I used to when I was 6 years old. Sitting here in my gloom and wishing that someday you will be on top of me, bring your chiseled chin closer to my cheeks, brushing it with your beard and whisper “I loved you all along. Have always done, will always do”. And then we will kiss passionately, like lovers do.