When Mother’s Milk Becomes Poison and Kills

April 10, 2020 at 9:15 PMApr (Activism, Friends, Media, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

Few days ago I translated a note written by my friend Kuntady Nitesh about his friend (a Hindu) being asked to vacate the house by the landlord for not participating in the 9 PM 9 Minutes performance, and posted on my Facebook timeline. The purpose was to make the non-Kannada speaking/ reading but English reading fellow humans know of such an inhumane incident. Not surprisingly, when it found circulation on FB, it invited comments from people who are not on my friend’s list too. Most of these comments expressed anger and disgust and for long there came no comment which either dismissed the whole thing or questioned it. Late that night a comment by a girl (a Hindu) was a bit unclear. She typed something on the lines of “Mother asked to shift to rented. What can I say?” and I couldn’t understand what was she trying to say. I asked her what she meant and she in her reply she, even if not in the same words, said, “I refused to participate in this lamp lighting and my mother asked me to look for a rented place. My own mother. What can I tell this man whose landlord has asked him to vacate?” My mind went numb as I read that. My eyes refused to move away from that comment. I took time to type a reply as I was struggling for words. When I finally gathered some words and formed a reply trying to tell her I understood her pain, even if not in the intensity she would be feeling it, and typed it, I couldn’t post the comment. The girl had deleted her comment by then.

Later when I spoke of this to a senior friend she told me that her daughter’s friend faced the same consequence at her place for not participating in the light and sound shows of Sunday!

A 12th century Kannada saint-poet in one of his verses asks, “When mother’s milk becomes poison and kills Who do you complain to…?” Mothers abandoning their children is just a micro image of the motherland abandoning an entire community.

Illustration by the inimitable Mir Suhail

Couple of days ago another senior friend (a Muslim) put up a small note on FB saying her daughter now is convinced that they will all end up in the concentration camp. The note was removed by my friend in a few hours, which I can understand. Few months ago couple of my friends (both practicing and non practicing Muslims) telling me about their family members and relatives having nightmares about concentration camps, which made me feel ashamed as a fellow-human. Fear seeping into the subconscious and erupting as nightmares is one thing but fear gripping your conscious mind is one thing and convincing you that you will be hunted, that too by the state, is another thing. The note by senior friend troubled me quite a lot because theirs is a well educated family and also has members who serve in the judiciary system. If someone from that family has to lose faith in every system and be convinced that they will end up in concentration camp, I don’t know what is left to crumble anymore in this secular democracy.

A tweet by a friend (a skeptic Muslim) couple of days ago, spoke of how she has been fearing death and losing family and friends to Corona and even in the midst of these fears, when she wakes up at night what fills her is with dread are thoughts of how Muslims will be hounded after this is over.

It is heartbreaking to realize that someone is able to imagine the world surviving this pandemic for which there is no vaccine that has been invented yet, but still is not able to imagine a sane society, a secure society, a secular society in the land which takes great pride in saying it is the land which said and apparently believed “vasudaiva kutumbakham,” to mean “the entire world is a family.”

Couple of hours before I began to write this note, a release by the Tahsheeldar of the Krishnarajapete Taluk, Karnataka began circulating over social media. The release speaks of an incident that took place at Tendekere of KR Pete taluk on the 8th of April at 22:45 hrs. Three men were stopped at the check-post and when stopped they have fled after announcing that they “are Muslims and Corona infected,” and threatening to “spread the virus and kill,” in case any attempt is made to catch hold of them. Investigation revealed the three as Mahesh, Abhishekh and Srinivas on whom FIR has been lodged! In the release. the Tahshildar says, “The three lied just to escape the consequences and there was no malicious intention behind it,” after which he says, “In the taluk of KR Pete no Muslim youngsters have arrived to spread the virus,” and adds, “Muslim community is not spreading this disease, it is untrue, hence all are requested to not to get anxious over it.” The release, in its concluding lines appeals the citizens of all religion to live in harmony “like always” and cooperate in fighting Corona.

I am willing to believe that the three men “lied” only to “escape the consequences,” for breaking the rules of lockdown. All of us do lie when we fear consequences. We do not do it consciously but as a reflex. I understand. But I cant square the circle as to why would they say they are Muslims and Corona infected,” and not just “Corona infected,” for escaping consequences. If at all we are to believe that the three did whatever they did just as a reflex action to escape consequences, then it is to be believed that the bias against Muslims, hatred against the entire community has become so internalized that it is now a part of the muscle memory!

If this is the kind of country/ world that we have to live in, what is the point of fighting this pandemic? If we are not able to re-imagine a humanitarian society, re-evaluate ourselves, when being reduced to just biological beings during pandemic with death staring at us, why are we, as a nation, as a society, even fighting for survival?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: