Why Then?

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22nd dec

Portrait of Ramlal’s friend: A successful working woman who was born in a middle class urban family in India’s Capital. She is in her mid 50s right now and is happily married with 2 daughters.

Most of her family members were non- religious. Thus, even in childhood it did not take much effort for her to free herself from the shackles of religion. But Religion is not the only issue that she had to struggle with in an infinitely patriarchal society. As she grew up she was not allowed to do many things that she wanted to do, just because she was a girl. She could not go outside to play cricket or football like her brothers, or swim in a community swimming pool which didn’t had “only female” time slot available. She was not allowed to ride a bike while she always wanted to ride one. As she grew to her teens, her mother was always keeping an eye on her, especially whenever she was talking to a male friend.

It is not that she was not a privileged girl. Her father was an engineer, a rationalist and man of science. He arranged best of education for her. She was the last one to get married among her friends. While almost all her friends married (willfully or because their family wanted them to get married) around the time they reached puberty, she was fortunate enough to complete her graduation before getting married.

She grew up in times when achievement, diligence and toeing the line were regarded as great values. She was an obedient daughter; and turned out to be a successful professional. Her husband supported her in almost all her endeavors (except one when she wanted to go alone on a vacation! God knows why?). He was happy when she gave birth to their twin daughters.  They were forward looking urban middle class couple with two beautiful daughters.

As she grew up, she realized that her religion treats woman as intellectually, morally and physically inferior. Gradually, she realized that it is not only her religion which was overtly gracious towards men; granting all possible rights & freedom, sexual & other pleasures followed by a guarantee of merry-full after-life but it was the case with all religions. And what was the reward for pious woman? Nothing but same old husband promised for next multiple lives!

Last year her elder daughter told her that she wants to marry a professionally successful man whom she first met during her collage days but he is from different religion. She didn’t approve. Her daughter couldn’t understand why? Especially because religion was never important to the family, religion did not give their family any identity, they gave it up a long time ago to say the least.  Why then?

Why then? Any possible answers; why then?

22nd dec 2

“kyon aaya hai be yahan? Tere baap ka ghar hai? Bhag yahan se” (loosely translated in English as: Fu**** why are you here? Fu** off)

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As our car (I was along with my best friend) entered his bungalow I asked my friend, “Do you think he has a pet dog?”

 “Are you afraid of dogs?” he asked

“Not the ones that on the outside resembles Homo sapiens. Over my lifetime I have perfected the art of dealing with that kind. In-fact, as Mark Twain once said, if you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference b/w a dog and man. I know it’s this type that you should be more fearful of but instead I have an abnormal fear for real-dogs”

I resist visiting all my dog owner friends; primarily because, it’s the dog that greets you before your friend & I construe that welcome growl as, “kyon aaya hai be yahan? Tere baap ka ghar hai? Bhag yahan se” (loosely translated in English as: Fu**** why are you here? Fu** off)

So we parked our car, rang the door bell and as expected friend’s pet greeted us. I took a step back; natural extinct prevailing.

“Tiger! My boy… Tiger!” our host came out, sure he meant, “Boy! Don’t worry, no they are no strangers. Don’t worry. I know them”

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Duly chained tiger noticed that his owner himself was taking us inside the bungalow but he continued his welcome growl. I obviously maintained distance.

Tiger seemed to belong to elite kind; he definitely had a greater social status or prestige. I generally get overwhelmed, awed by this special group, its affiliations and practices, its demeanor. Well a friend once told me that in far West, they keep what they call as “The Social Register” which acts as a key resource for identifying individuals that were elite. Tiger seemed one of them.

Sitting in the lawn with friends that evening, looking at “tiger the higher one”, I was feeling a little intimidated. Tiger was on his evening walk. Just about then I noticed two “Street dogs” at the lawn-gate. Intimidated they were, just like me, looking at Tiger’s mannerism & royalty. Tiger, true to his class was invariably ruthless towards these “street dogs”; barking at mere sight.

My friend noticed that I was taking a somewhat keen interest in tiger Vs street dog dual. He said, “This is their daily routine. Every evening when Tiger is on his walk in the lawn, both of them just roam around the gate and stare at Tiger”.

“Humm! But Tiger shouldn’t bark at them. Tiger is upper class Aristocrat, has wherewithal. They are browbeaten oppressed kind. What is tiger going to gain by further intimidating them?”

My friend I think couldn’t understand what I meant. Anyways, that night all three of us (tiger, my friend and I) slept in the lawn. Late in the night I noticed another behavior trait of Tiger, leading me to believe that tiger was actually “Upper class”; a slash below the real “Society group”. What happened in the night was that whenever street dogs growled at a stranger signifying a potential danger Tiger whole-heartedly contributed in their collective growl that slowly increased in intensity and ultimately turned into a howling growl.

But why was Tiger participating? In the evening he was growling at these street dogs; now at the slightest fear of potential danger why Tiger became one of them?

That’s a true “Upper class” trait. A group that broadcast themselves as “Classy”, “higher ones”, “Aristocrat” but at the slightest sense of danger quickly rearrange themselves to where the majority is.

Next evening when we were just about leaving I saw Tiger lying in the corner of the lawn brutally bruise, licking his own wounds. I tried enquiring.

My friend told me that in the evening; inadvertently the main gate was left open. Tiger walked out in the open and those street dogs were anyways on a lookout, they got their chance & rest as you can see.

I looked at Tiger again. Here’s my version of what would have happened that eventful evening.

Tiger would have stepped out of the main gate filled with his fake royalty, would have growled at the “Street Dogs” as usual. Street dogs that day sensing tiger is out of his private zone would have responded saying, “You pretender! You are nothing more than one of us. On the slightest sense of danger you arrange yourself behind us, but otherwise you growl at us.”

Tiger I think would have growled again & that’s when “street dogs” would have given him a ROYAL beating.

I am sure tiger sitting quietly in the corner is brainstorming on where does he actually belong?