By Asma Anjum Khan
[An attempt to know, if people of all hues and garden variety are one and the same on the Lynch Stage?]
Like a good patriotic citizen, I always try to live in my own cowardly shell, habitually pretending that ‘all izz well’.
May God really send Mr. Naseeruddin Shah to Pakistan for re-invoking my riot fears! Imagining your children trapped amidst a blood-thirsty mob could be truly horrifying, more so if the kiddos don’t happen to have a religion as the veteran actor feared. Come on, Mr. Shah, mobsters don’t ask questions, they just do their work.
How emulating! Do your work, don’t ask questions. Our bosses would actually be loving this.
Coming back, I keep designing that space in my mind where I might be caught unawares in a riot. Maybe I am out for shopping, have gone to fetch my kid from school, or returning from college and get trapped in the main square near our home. Has ‘being trapped’ in a riot just been made glamorous by our actor?
No, Mr. Shah, the rioters don’t ask you for your Aadhar number before hacking you nor are they bothered about the lack of religion, your ethnicity, sect, etc.
I say, the cool rigidity of ‘objectivity’ that is practised by our riot bros while ‘on job’ is quite disarming.
Well, not literally.
So being objective is the second lesson.
Look, when you are trapped, do they ask you which sect you belong to while you raise your hands up to your shoulders (or not – doing Rafiuddin) as you mischievously pray your Jumma in a park? Or do they ask if you practise the typical Islamophobic Islam that the world loves to fear or are you a teetotaler? Our Riot Bhais don’t seem curious to know if you practise Corporate Islam or the lesser liberal range? How do you prove that, anyway? Or you are that peculiar NRI variety who sheds tears for Islam visiting Spain? Suppose you are an atheist, how would you make them ‘stop’ believing in this Frankensteinesque make-believe rioting world? I can’t stop laughing, imagining you be a JNUite and caught in the muddle! Lessons on equality and fraternity? Oh, dear leftie, thou art insanity!
Now let’s seriously wonder what do the rioters lynchers mobsters ask you before they hack you. Time is a precious commodity even for the lynch-bhais. The work though planned in advance, is and has to be done in a jiffy.
Lynchman cum rioter: Hey, hey we caught you!
You: But why? [try imagining yourself, for a few seconds, to be a bit stern and amused, why really?! ]
(After receiving a few blows)
You: Why me? (with hands folded more awkwardly than uncle Advani)
Imagine a phone buzzing in between. It is for that youngest of the riot team member dispatched there, on recommendation, whom you hear saying, ‘Haan mummy, aa raha hoon, thora late ho jaye ga.’ [I will be late, Mom] See, even the mothers of the rioters worry about them, no big deal if Shah sahib felt vulnerable about his.
Interestingly, the cannons that were loosened upon Mr. Shah were multi-pronged and multi-faceted. Fascists, liberals, libero-fascists [Whatever you say, Vajpayee was a liberal], near-fascists (traipsing on the line of control), neuro-liberals [You guess it!], Communo-liberals [BMKJ after passing TT bill, is patriotic.]
(United Colours of Lynchingtons?!)
Everyone together went for the Shah-head, giving a new meaning to ‘Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.’ [Or should it be, Uneasy lies the head that wears a topi?!] But Shah and sons don’t wear a topi? Skull caps are for the inconsequential.
I wish to tell the veteran actor that he doesn’t have to fear for the lack of a religious tag. Do you think the children would be spared if they professed to their mother Ratna Pathak-Shah’s religion?
If they are coming, they are coming for all of us.
They are democratic, that way.
Ah! The third lesson.
Now the moot question is:
Darna manaa hai?
Dr. Asma Anjum Khan, based in Maharashtra, teaches English. Speaking and writing are a passion with her. She has written for various prestigious national and international publications and websites on social, ethical, and gender related issues. She runs an NGO, FEEL (Foundation for English and Ethical Learning) that wants to bring change by equipping people with the language of English. Twitter: @AsmaAnjumKhan
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City and India. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.
Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “Hatred and Mass Violence: Lessons from History”, edited by Navras J. Aafreedi, Presidency University, Kolkata, India.