Strength Of The Weak

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 PMNov (Activism, Friends, Literature, Media, Musings, Slice Of Life)

She clapped as the speech ended. No, it was not the “let me not make a fool out of myself without clapping and thus exhibiting the fact that i do not follow the language,” attitude filled clap. It was a genuine clap. It was a clap in solidarity. I looked at her in a state of surprise.

For Shyamala Bhai and the other Kudubi (a tribe) people it was a known fact that most of the people gathered at the National People’s Audit for SEZ in India (April 19 and 20, New Delhi) did not understand each others tongue. So “let me pose,” was not a necessary thing. They could not follow English and Hindi that was spoken by the organizers, some activists from all over the country, the panelists nor could they follow Marathi, Gujarathi, Odiya, Telugu, Tamil that was spoken by the victims and activists from other regions. But they sat and listened to all of them in great patience and solidarity. The others (activists, victims, organizers, panelists) also could not follow Tulu, the language spoken by the Kudubi people, when they spoke about their living condition in the shadow of SEZ. But all of them listened to them in great patience and solidarity.

As i saw this i recollected what Varavara Rao in a column written for Indian Express during his days in jail between 1985-89 wrote. He wrote about a fellowmen in the jail who though illiterate would go through all the newspapers. When asked what he was ‘reading’ he replied saying, “Just going looking at the photographs.” Narrating this Varavara Rao said, “I have my own suspicions. By touching the printed word with his fingers, by looking at photographs, by smelling the ink, by feeling the density of the paper, he was certainly extracting some news.”

Probably it was the solitude in the jail which made the illiterate go through the newspaper and “extract some news” from it. The solitude of the jail strengthened him to raise above his illiteracy and understand some news, it appears. Similarly the suffering by a common enemy enabled all the victims of SEZ from different parts of the country to transcend the barriers of language and understand each other. There was also a need for all the victims to come together to fight the common enemy. In this hour of need to unite the victims, it appears, were crossing all sort of barriers for the sake of justice, for the sake of their lives, for the sake of their livelihood which their common enemy was snatching from them.

Hope is here. Their strength to fight was being expressed at the subconscious level. Their strength had enabled them to unite and understand, understand and unite with co-victims from other parts of the country, crossing the barriers of language.

Saumyavrata Chaudhury Sir once said, “It is the strength of the weak that will change the world.”

27 April 2010

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