So you think you are tolerant?

It took too many valuable lives and the criminalisation of an entire university, followed by the mocking of a beautiful ideology for people to finally question the functioning of the state- out loud. While several people have bravely shouted out their opinions, forcing the concerned to listen to them even if it meant that their lives, or worse, their beliefs were put in deep hazard, several others (too many for comfort) chose to live in claustrophobic fear of the ‘patriots’ and waited for their prison sentence to end in 2019 (hopefully). But even a large proportion of this category came out of their hiding and took their stand with those who were so evidently unjustly treated by the government, and they are so deeply embedded now that they will not back off easy.

But there are always those who do not understand what it is that we are fighting for. “What Azadi Azadi? You live in a free country, what more do you want?” And my response is “Do I really live in a free country? Don’t you think that because of my religion, I am freer than many individuals and groups, while at the same time, because of my gender, beliefs and ideologies, I am less free than other groups?” and the most perfect response to this is -“Just change your ideology, then you will just be freer than most”. So I explain why it is easier for me to give up my damn religion, because I would lose my identity and individuality if I have to give up my ideology. In the simplest words, I believe that every living organism deserves a respectable life. This is then split apart and complicated to suit the needs and requirements of the issue at hand. However, this is apparently a utopian ideology and will never ever function. Just because you do not agree with this and because you have so thoroughly demeaned what I believe in, I will not be convinced to give this up.

I was made fun of because I was part of an LGBT Pride March (FYI, one of the most colourful protest marches I have been part of) and I was asked to shush when I told them that I missed the beef fry, which my mother prepares the best. When I questioned why you were judging that girl because she chose to be physically intimate with her partner before marriage, you said “oh, so you are also that type”. When I explained about periods to you and suggested that you learn about it because you are married and may someday have a baby girl, you scrunched your nose at me and said “Why should I know about all that? It’s gross!” and when I asked you to develop a little sense when you started mocking a women who chose her life partner after 50, you decided that I always defend the morally corrupt. You then one day showed me a picture of a famous Hollywood celebrity sharing a kiss with his husband on a beach and asked me if that was what I wanted in my country. I was confused at first as I didn’t understand what it is that you were showing me, and then it dawned on me that the celebrity, although married, is a man and hence…  You also had the audacity to make disgusting rape jokes and laugh about it aloud while a bunch of other imbeciles joined your fun party and tagged me as the ‘kill joy’ because I didn’t find it amusing and pointed it out to you. Now, let’s go back to that question shall we, what is it that I need Azadi from? From your shallow minded judgemental self for starters!

When I voiced my opinion against the brutality of religious fascists who instigated unspeakable violent acts by targeting people belonging to the minority religious groups; which later resulted into the large number of deaths and left a thousand others tortured and stripped free of every right and freedom which is proudly displayed in our constitution, you gave very wry points and (very poorly) attempted to defend their violent actions. When I then showed you a picture of an injured animal who was attacked by a member of the leading political party, (although evidently shocked first) you decided to swallow your disapproval and instead said “no comments”.

Does this mean that you too are scared of the government? Or are you scared that you will lose your identity if you condemn the actions (even if universally accepted to be brutal) of these people, or that you will be less of a Hindu? And then the very same day you show me an article which informs that a popular cricketer is facing legal charges from his country because he commented on TV that his team feels more love from my country; and you called his country irrational and unreasonable. Therefore, when I said, ‘So you think that the he is being wrongfully condemned because you believe that all he did was express a personal opinion, which he should have the right to do so?” you joyfully agreed, but I quickly followed that with “Notice something similar happening in our country?” you quickly roll your eyes at me and say “That was different! That was an attack on the country”.

You don’t realise that the irrationality of your blind faith is being superimposed on me at a higher level, because this government got lucky as there are many more who thinks how you think. When you blindly make comments such as “these Dalits are always too violent in their protests and they don’t even have the decency to listen to what others have to say to them” all I asked you was “how can you issue such a generalised verdict upon an entire community? Do you have some well researched statistical evidence to show that the oppressed class in this country is actually shutting out the privileged class in all aspects?” you replied, “hold on! Are you a Dalit too?” I don’t respond to you because something someone said long ago about some vessels and noise and wasted effort of arguing with an idiot (maybe its two people, but it suits) came to me. But your brilliant analysis of religious communities didn’t end there, while arguing about how Muslims are being wrongfully targeted in this country to the extent that now the members of this community have to work extra hard to prove their true patriotism, you disagree with me but quickly add “you don’t know how these Muslims are. When there is a cricket match between India and Pakistan, they support Pakistan”. Once again, I am sure you have conducted a well researched study to come to that conclusion and you also must have some very impressive points of analogy to conclude who is patriotic and who is a traitor (what can be better ground of analysis than a cricket match), I however, chose to shut up and smile sadly at you. You have succeeded in creating a highly frustrating and claustrophobic environment around me which now suggests that it is better to bottle up your opinions and wait for your sentence to end than try to prove your point with people who have already made up their mind about who deserves human rights and freedom and who doesn’t.

The instances that I quoted above are only but a few that had occurred in my life over the past couple of months. In that case, it is not difficult to imagine the magnitude of intolerance being practised around the country. My colleague detests travelling to work in a bus because his personal space is invaded very ruthlessly and he can’t even complain about it because he is a man, my cousin is sent to a psychiatrist and later beaten up at home because he realised he was a bisexual and shared that detail with his family, the small shop owner near my house who also serves dinner past 7:30 pm writes the menu in English except for beef curry, which he writes in his mother tongue to avoid any threat or abuse to him or his family.

These are petty issues as compared to the vicious attacks and ridiculous justification provided behind these attacks. You still don’t think that you have become a tad bit intolerant? If you don’t, then you are definitely delusional. If you do, and you still support these actions on the basis of the same absurd justifications and explanations, then you deserve a much more detailed psychiatric treatment, some ice cream and a very long cuddly hug to bring back that human in you which I know is hiding in there somewhere. If that doesn’t work and you still choose to label me as anti-national, then go ahead and do that. I don’t want to be a part of your version of India. But you get out of my India because here we don’t tolerate any inhuman treatment because some sort of unexplainable complex in you is hurt. We had to fight for years to get to where we are, and we are still fighting to ensure that the rights and freedom isn’t being denied to anyone. The insignificance of your existence is blocking our way with its moronic half-witted sense of patriotism.

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