“Sambha, did you see how we were one yesterday night? Did you see how each one of us, irrespective of religion & caste stood shoulder to shoulder to support Team India? Politicians may divide this country but Cricket brings us together!”
It was the morning after the India Pakistan Semi Final Clash of the Cricket World Cup 2011. India had demolished, humiliated Pakistan, routed them and sent them back to their country and were on their way to the finals.
My friend, Sambhaji was sitting along with me on the famous Shivaji Park Katta and we were excitedly chatting about the Indian triumph. Having seen the euphoria and the celebrations afterwards and the feeling of oneness that people showed during the match, I was exictedly talking about the magic of cricket and how it unites people in India,
Sambhaji, the wiser and more experienced of the both of us looked at me, smiled and shoved a copy of the day’s newspaper in my face.
“Read this! See how we Indians unite during matches and tease, harass and sexually harass our women & men too! See how many police complaints were registered yesterday night! A night which was supposed to be a night of joy has turned a nightmare for so many women& men!”
Not to be outdone by his sudden attack, I replied, “ I admit that these attacks should not have happened but then people were drunk and then the police should also have been on guard!”
“Is it? Is it only the police who are responsible for the security of our women? Do we need the police or some law enforcement body to tell us to control our carnal urges? Whatever happened to the so-called Glorious Indian Culture that we keep on harping about? As we sit below this statue of Shivaji Maharaj, do we forget his ideology? Parastree Mate Samaan (Other women are equivalent to Mothers).Do we forget that in this land of Shivaji Maharaj, once the Patil of the village Ranze near Pune had his arms and legs cut off for raping a woman? And today we the sons of this great country are raping our own women, molesting them in mobs? Are we not raping our own culture by doing this? Are we not raping this country itself, who we proudly call Bharat Mata?”
“Sambha”, I tried to cool him down, “Capital Punishment like this cannot be meted out today! Human Rights people will jump at this opportunity! And it is a democracy today and not a monarchy!”
“Pranjal, that is not the point! We are cultured individuals and our culture is indeed great. There is no doubt about that but somewhere we forget that we ought to respect other people too and in our enthusiasm to celebrate such occasions we cross the line! And this is not at all right. There should be some self-restraint! We Indians always think on a very low personal level. Think of how the other person would feel when you molest him or her. Think of how you would feel if a mob jumps on you and rips your clothes off. Think of how you would feel if your mother and/or sister were molested and stripped of their clothes and their izzat in public. How would you feel?”
An animal when cornered does two possible things. It completely surrenders or it launches a deadly attack as a last resort. Being a human being I did a mixture of both.
“Sambha, you are right!These things should not happen and we should certainly exercise restraint. And these hooligans should be dealt with severely and punished at the earliest.”
And now I wanted to divert the discussion and take it to a different aspect of the topic so that, for the sake of arguing, I could gain some ground in this battle. Management and Marketing Fundas, eh?So, I continued.
“ But my point was how we are united in such times. May it be Cricket or even Kargil War or the earthquakes and Tsunami. India has always been united in such times.”
I felt proud to have used such tactics to try and move the conversation to another level, after all I was an MBA graduate and an MBA should know how to talk at all times.
What I forgot was that, only a degree does not count. What matters is how you have lived your life and how many exams in life you have cleared.Sambhaji was clearly ahead of me in that. Both in terms of age and experience of life. He was a management graduate from the college of life, for god’s sake!
He smiled like an experienced General who watches his opponents feeble attempts to salvage something from the battle before he destroys him completely, and said to me,
“Earthquakes and Tsunamis? In that case what we must do is take lessons from Japan. That country is a true phoenix. It has got the courage to rise up from the ashes and be the best. In short, The Japanese have got balls to tell life, Do whatever you want. Hit us as hard as you can. Knock us down. You may kill many of us. You may physically hurt us. But by God, you can never even dampen our spirit, let alone kill it. No matter what you do, we will always get up and live life with pride!”
– Pranjal Wagh
04 April 2011
Note: Inspiration for this story/post came from a e-mail I received from my friend, Anup Bokil about ‘10 things we should learn from Japan’ and also from the news about molestation taking place after the India-Pak semifinal match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011
This work by Pranjal A. Wagh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License