I was busy studying the beautiful stage design at the recently concluded Mind Fest, which was about to start in a couple of minutes, when Palshikar Sir tapped on my shoulder gently. In a voice filled with excitement, seriousness and appreciation all at the same time, softer than his usual style and slowly uttering every word to convey its importance, he told me, “The theme for Latur VEDH this year is just splendid!” “Honorable Rebel”, he said, remembering the correct words. He searched my face with eyes wide with excitement, to see if I shared his emotions and whether I had really got the essence of the theme. It didn’t take even a split second for my head to be swayed back in pure amazement. The train of thought that I anticipated only after Mind Fest was already running.
This theme, was extremely close to my heart. Readers, please don’t fasten your seat belts and expect no story of injustice after this line, for I have, thankfully and much my fluke, experienced no such thing on a huge basis. I, do, just like all of everybody, however, experience inequality and curbing of my freedom, albeit about minor life choices from time to time. I choose to look at this as a product of living in this society. Unfortunately, I have become so used to this pattern of a lack of liberty in certain matters that one doesn’t even notice minor incidences, questions and behaviours that are a proof of the promised but absent liberty. I wish there were some band with a bulb strapped to our hands that would beep everytime someone or something arrests our basic freedoms. Quantifying such abstract yet important constructs would be helpful, certainly. It would awaken everyone, including myself, to the everyday assaults at freedom, that are so routinely that the eye fails to pick it up as a figure screaming out from its background. To come back to why this theme rang a bell in my heart, was simply because I’m a strong believer in the principles of liberty and equality, as I think, everybody ideally should be. But only if the happenings in this world were fueled by my wishes!
Yuval Noah Harari, in his book, ‘Sapiens’ puts forth an extremely interesting observation. Humans, he says, spend their life around concepts that are more imagination than nature. How much do we love our country, a totally man made idea? How much time and energy do we spend on earning money, which, by the laws of nature, doesn’t exist! To carry this point forward and to make it broader and deeper, I think inequality, lack of liberty is the product of the same domain that is not nature. Except this time, it also works against humanity itself, instead of propelling it towards betterment. And in the face of such a ‘pralaya’, there comes a time when those choosing to go against the ingrained, unnatural principles that drive the society have to be celebrated as heroes.
What creative mind thought that offering something to a certain ‘deity’ would give a desired result? What a genius of a hypocrite must be the person, who popularized certain sexual orientations as unnatural, when unnatural was the seed of this very thought? Are we so stone headed, that the professing of constitutional principles for so many decades has been a waste on many of us? Why is it so easy to wear the dresses of inequality and celebrate it, preach it and pass it on to the next generation like it were a festival? In contrast, why is walking on the paths of equality, liberty, fraternity like lifting the Shiva’s bow?
In a society full of sheep walking in an unmindful heard, there are lions and lionesses, who want to start their own pride, rather, restore the universal, natural pride to normalcy. Paromita Goswami, Dr. Hameed Dabholkar, Disha Pinky Sheikh, Atul and Amrita Gailoge are Ruksana Mulla, Vaishali Ghuge, Archana Bhosale and Archana Man, namely the faculty members of Latur VEDH are such leaders of prides. When they roar rationality at Latur VEDH this year, I wish it touches our ears as powerfully as the Midas touch, only to put us into action that restores the universal, natural normalcy.