Yesterday my Dad said something to me that broke my heart and then healed back to further cement my resolve. He said ‘the atmosphere in India is getting too weirdly sensitive, you need to start toeing a line on what you speak’. For two seconds I couldn’t bring myself to say anything because here was a man who has brought me up with only one advice : If you think you are right, let there be thousands to oppose you. YOU FIGHT.

And yet there he is, at sixty five. Perhaps part of the same crowd and yet afraid what it might mean for his rebel child, bending over backwards to change is world view on life.

After a few seconds I gathered my senses and said “now is the most important time to fight, the time when we look back and say – this is where we mattered. We stood up to the bullies and saved life as we know it”. He didn’t say anything to me beyond.

But that was me. I wonder how many around are quiet because they are afraid – leading to the notion that Boris Johnson can demean Indians and Pakistanis in his Xenophobic speeches and get away with it. That Trump can call African nations ‘hell holes’ and not attract as much as a critique from world leaders. That Narendra Modi can say in a rally “You can recognise them from their clothes” giving the slight nod to discrimination against Muslims, and have no one (least of all Election Commission) object to it. This silence is not golden, but it is that very rust which will corrode the very idea of our country.

You know what is ‘The Futterwacken Dance’ ? Lewis Carrol Fans might remember. It is the dance of celebration from Mad Hatter. An ugly display of pomp and show.

That’s what the world feels like to me today. An ugly display of pomp and show of bigotry. Of discrimination. Of racism. Of xenophobia. Of everything against the very nature of humanity.

I know, I know. Like my father there are many who would say – toe a line. Keep these posts kosher. Or you might ruffle a few friends. Some readers.

To them (and my father) I say this : I am not losing friends over political differences. I don’t care who you vote. I am losing friends over my principles. I care how you position your bigotry.

And when say we are losing friends over political differences. What about that Muslim friend who loves Ramayana and Mahabharata? Who knows more Hindu than me? Who talks and understands more rituals than anyone I know? And who now unfortunately quietly watches things like “Corona Jihad” and “Maaro Saalon Musalmanon ko” ? Do I owe zilch to THAT friend?

In life I have noticed, there are always choices. And what you become are nothing but choices. A series of them.

And I have made my choice. I am no ‘Mad Hater’ – no futterwacken dance for me.


From a time when he was braver and world was saner

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