Streets are now widowed. Her red mark smeared with tears and salt trickles down the huge blue canvas, painting the story of man’s grief. There isn’t much rolling on the black tarmac which otherwise has always been grey. Only a few vehicles now and then breaking the monotony, distanced as if they are averse to each other’s proximity. A white sheet is pasted on their face crying out loud their VIP status-ON DUTY-ESSENTIAL SERVICES-POST/HEALTH/MEDIA/DAIRY etc etc.
Essential means only that which is tangible, right? However a band of ‘free men’ are on the roll in the streets flouting lockdown, possibly because they noticed for the first time that the walls in their house overwhelmed with photo frames are closing in on them. Damn! these walls and sentiments. Someone amongst them brought up Mangru and they all engaged-what will become of his family, now left with scanty food? Sadly none quipped about the abundant reserve of foul water. And then they quickly whisked to other topics. Mangru, Premchand’s Hori and Dhania, Mulk Raj Anand’s Bakha-their names have a peculiar ring to it.
People like us are unaccustomed of hearing such names except in the leaves one may have turned over. People like us-I need not explain that. It’s fairly obvious. People having essentials laid out in plate and empathy gushing out from hearts that somehow doesn’t translate into action. I wonder if something will change for Bakha if he is renamed to something that comes across as ‘familiar’ to our ears. I wonder if the pejorative overtone in his name will ever go away. I wonder if it will draw attention to the variety and gravity of their drudgery. Mangru is on a great fall. Falling through the cracks of system and security net of empathetic civil society. Even the sieve that media extends is too broad to catch him. In a critical phase when stranded laborers are scavenging through pile of discarded food, contrastingly the ‘mainstream media’ has successfully hoarded surplus fodder for itself to ruminate over years.
The 5 p.m. battle ground is a slot facilitating exclusive access to communal slurs and bigotry while Mehak sustained only with salt and raw rice, curses herself for her dried-up breast oozes no milk to feed her new born child. Meanwhile, Darwin reposed in his fine and private place ,grins at Pope praying to an empty ST.Peter’s Square and at the hushed pilgrimage to Kabbah attended by none but a flock of birds.
Amidst all the clamor of claims and theories about fate and helplessness of human, I am reminded of Shaw’s’ Creative evolution’. The intention at the back of his idea is that man should work judiciously towards the evolution of a human form that will be strong enough to maintain the paradise on earth. Man is the potential superman, that can hasten the evolutionary process by ‘’willing’’ his upward development. Tangible empathy towards the most vulnerable groups and faith in human capabilities will ensure survival of all and not just the fittest.