My liberal friends, some of them at any rate, might dub me a ‘right-winger’ after reading the title itself. What has a liberal got to confess, they will ask tartly. Aren’t the words ‘liberal’ and ‘confession’ an oxymoron, you moron? The heart of a liberal, after all, has no dark secrets or ulterior motives, nor any irrational knot or scheming plot. It’s an open book, in essence the same as it is in appearance. The title then is a heresy, that’s what it is, they would chorus.
But doesn’t matter. I am in a position where self-righteous slanders of some won’t affect me. I will continue to enjoy the gratuitous perks and privileges accorded to many liberals. My parents, both of whom are prominent liberals, as it’s well known, will make sure of that. Apparently, they are a votary of the adage that ‘blood matters.’ Come hell or high water, blood is thicker than water, they say. Without worrying about any future libels and name-calling, therefore, I will proceed.
But before I confess, I want to give some fodder to those from my liberal community who due to their habit of tolerance, have not yet dismissed me as a ‘closet bhakt.’ To you then, most good personages, I want to assure that I am a liberal. Read then that which follows, which I have written to gain your nod; hoping after-wards to elicit your pity rather than hatred, when you read my confession.
I can enumerate many of my views which have received recognition of being liberal. It is true that sometimes, in fact often times, my parents have ensured through their connections that I am heard. But those who have heard me, especially from our own community, have not been disappointed. That is to say, I am well versed in liberal diction and mannerisms.
To just give you some taste, I believe that today, politics encompasses life, is above any art, any endeavor, and that dissent is the most necessary virtue of any conscientious citizen. As someone has said, who I think is dead, that one who doesn’t disagree is already dead. Therefore, I disagree. And hence, I am a conscientious citizen. Praises be to me.
I have many other liberal traits. But the one fact which will clinch the deal is that I am considered liberal by those who are the face of liberalism in our not-so-great and recent nation. Some of the oft-heard liberals have patted my back, and wished me success, but only through hard work and not undeserved as theirs is (we are capable of self-deprecatory wit too).
And I am called liberal not for nothing. I am, on the one hand, against usurpation of anyone’s inheritance. That’s why I champion Rahul Gandhi’s claim to the throne. On the second hand, I support my liberal friends’ freedom to say anything on twitter, even that be flapdoodle, and not be called out for it. I argue for it by preaching compassion for our fellow beings, and expose the right-wingers for their lack of it, rather than a lack of logic in my friends.
To further cement my liberal image, let me take you to my ancestry.
Begot and brought up by my liberal parents in an environment which reeked of all-out appreciation for fine wine, Nehru and Islam, I could but only become a liberal. I was precocious in realizing that though I was a Hindu by birth, I would have to be ashamed of it by thought; that ‘unity in diversity’ might only be a meaningless bromide but could be quoted to silence the opposition; that the phrase ‘the only idea of India is that there is no one idea of India’ is intolerant in essence, however could be used for doublespeak; that removed of all the adjuncts, of the unnecessities and superfluities, Muslims hold the key to the essence of our nation. If they disappear, so will the key.
I understood all of it. I learnt also to quote from many books without reading them. And to appreciate thinkers whose thoughts I myself had not given any thought to. To oppose the opposing views with indignation if I could not do so with reason.
I learnt not to be stagnant, as Hindu religion is, but to change myself as Islam does. I became capable to contradict myself without undergoing through cognitive dissonance. And in my self-defense I made Walt Whitman my witness, saying ‘I contain multitudes.’
So that though I had memorized that elections were really good for our nation, and how we had proven wrong those from the west who thought democracy was too good for us – even then, seeing the results of some recent elections, I couldn’t help but commiserate with those refuted skeptics from the west. That if people are that stupid to vote in the way that the results show they do, then it’s possible that democracy really is too good for us.
But of late, we are subjected to lot of mockery. To give an example, when any Hindu(s) commits wrong, and we say that had it been someone Muslim, the whole Hindutva brigade would have raised hell, we are called names like ‘Hindu hater,’ ‘Congress stooge’ and what have you. And when some Muslim(s) commits wrong, and we say that it should not be made a religious issue, we are again called out for our apparent double standards.
Like what double standards exactly? Are we going to hound Muslims out of this country, which is as much theirs as it is ours? Can not they, mere 300 million, have little fun at our expense? Are we Hindus not that big-hearted? How did we, as a majority community, develop a victimized mentality?
When I go out, only rarely do I encounter Muslims. Have we Hindus not then dominated the public life? When my parents are invited to Pakistan to this or that event, they say they see so many Muslims at public places, doing this that and other things. And while we have more Muslims in India than in Pakistan, we don’t see them here. Where are they, I ask? Where is equality, I ask? Would I be able to wake up to a day when as many Muslims as Hindus will be seen on our roads, in buses, trucks and trains? Or would this remain a virgin dream? In that case, I would move out to Pakistan and see Muslims dominating the public places there, as Hindus do so here. I believe in balance.
I will illustrate an event which transpired recently to emphasize our callous attitude towards Muslims. You must not have forgotten the protests against the citizenship act, whose unconstitutionality by the way was so easy to recognize that many got it without even reading the act. The face of the country-wide protests had become the Shaheen Bagh women, remember? And when these most progressive of our women, clad in burqa, were doing their sit-ins in the most non-obstructive of places, that is a road, did anyone care to join? When they immobilized the whole area for so many weeks, at throwaway rate of few hundred rupees per day, sacrificing so much as to even causing death to one of their infant out of negligence, and doing a deep study of constitution by reciting the preamble – when they were about to become the heralders of our own 1960s era, did we join? And the answer is a resounding no!
Instead, we sat in our cozy homes, and worked hard not to read Thoreau on civil disobedience. Granted, many among us wrote such tweets as would be read by generations, but does there end our responsibility? The answer must again be a resounding no!
Have we then not become a morally corrupt country, as the philosopher Rana Ayyub says? In this era of Rudra Hanuman stickers becoming ubiquitous on car backs, can one not even chant ‘La Ilaha Ilalaha’? I haven’t read the book, but I would say, ‘Cry, the beloved country’!
And now comes the confession.
I am confounded, therefore, having such beliefs as I have just adumbrated, to have fallen for a girl who is, what we say, a bhakt. The promiscuity, a proxy for feminism, the insignia of an empowered woman, she finds distasteful. She considers the actions of present government with good intentions and gives it the benefit of doubt too! She doesn’t criticize Islam without good reasons (as if there could ever be a good reason, ha ha), but likewise she doesn’t criticize Hinduism too!! In fact, she is a proud Hindu and celebrates with much joy its festivals. She thinks of other matters too apart from politics, like for instance, about the book she is reading, or the food she’d have, or even about ice-cream flavors!! And sometimes, she laughs at that paragon of statesmanship also known by the name of Rahul Gandhi!
And yet I fell for her. It’s bad, but that’s life, I guess.
I wish I could compensate for this deviance by ending my confession with some French quote, to assure you all that I am as much committed to cosmopolitanism as is demanded of me as a liberal. To assure you that though in matters of heart, I might have fallen, however I am still lofty in matters of head. But sadly, I don’t know French. Don’t despair however: I have started to learn. Accept this evidence: Au revoir!