Saturday, May 21, 2005

Things I learnt during the Right to Work yatra

That Activism can be fun:

None of the activists were over-earnest. None was bent on converting you (oh well, alright. One guy was very argumentative... but one out of forty isn't so bad).

I learnt that singing folk songs with biting social commentary, dripping with rustic sarcasm is a lot of fun. Talking puppets are fun. Beating a dhol and walking through fields, chanting 'Inquilab Zindabad' can be fun. Sloganeering grows on you, too.
Street plays are fun. Revolutionary poetry is fun. Finding wisdom and talent in unexpected bodies is fun.
Sleeping under the stars is fun. Eating raw mangoes straight off the trees is fun.
Waking up shivering-cold in the night, in an Indian summer, is awesome.

That a pyjama cord is a vicious creature, with a mind of its own:

A pyjama cord cannot be trusted. It WILL double-knot itself at the precise moment when you must relieve yourself.
It possible, it will do this when the electricity has gone off, or when the bulb has fused, or when it is a moonless night and you are under an open sky.

Also, forest-cover and dense vegetation WILL disappear from the landscape at the precise moment when you must relieve yourself.
If the pyjama cord can have its way, it will get double-knotted when it is dark AND where there is no forest-cover.

Stick with elastic, on future travels.

That I love listening to people's stories:

Stories of battles within the soul, of wars fought underground, of being in jail, stories of heartbreak; stories of books written; stories told through painted windows and mud walls, stories that are being made as I watch; stories I am triggering off by saying the things I am saying, knowing that the words and images are being filed away as memories, but not knowing how they will be used....

That cynicism is a heavy burden:

I think I offended Preeti, one of the activists on the yatra, last week, by saying that nothing would really, really change. That we might fight and win, but there would always be exploitation and injustice in human society. Power might change hands. Control might shift to a new class, a new caste. Property may be redefined... but someone, somewhere, would always suffer. History is my witness....

Preeti was upset, because I wouldn't admit that the world would one day wake up dewy-faced, brimming with overwhelming love, stripped of all pain... She believes things would change. She was working for the change.

I hope she reads this some day, because I'd like her to know that I won't stop working for change, either. It's harder this way - this belief that in the long run, it's a losing battle.
Cynicism is a personal burden; it doesn't stop me from fighting. Cynicism is the price I pay for an inability to celebrate next week, next month, next year, instead of sulking about how every world and every age must fight for the right to live, all over again.

So cheer up, Preeti. I don't agree with all you say, but I'll stand by you when you're saying it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good ones, Annie. Especially the one about ‘pyjama cord’, that I found particularly hilarious. :-)

Well done, and keep writing!


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