We are a country of angry, angry people. But we have moved on already. There are no ‘breaking news’ tickers running on news channels telling the world that the 23-year-old is ‘optimistic about her future’. Or that she has just had two teaspoons of apple juice. Or that her father – who is living on prayers for his raped, brutalised, dying daughter – has had to muffle his trauma and appear on a TV channel to appeal for peace.
It was not like the the tragedy didn’t sink into our conscience, altogether. It was also not as if we didn’t shudder every time news about her trials hit our ears. It did. The unflinching, undaunted protesters demanding justice on the streets of Delhi, was proof enough.
But then came along the show-offs.
And one channel found its new campaign – for what a voice-over in a thick tragic tone called a ‘rape most heinous’ – as if there were ‘less heinous’ versions of rape possible in this world. A fittingly morose background music was also chosen to go with the ‘campaign’ promotional.
And the less fortunate, who didn’t have a TV channel to flaunt the breadth of their conscience, had to make do with Facebook status updates, declaring, with great sombreness that they have not partied on New Year’s eve. And in case you have been wondering if they were jet-lagged or grounded, they’ll clarify that they were ‘mourning’. Because what mourning is complete if not shouted out from Facebook?
If you’ve never had great faith in the human race, just flip on the TV channel or do a quick review of your Facebook home-page. Your faith shall be restored.
To sum up, we are the country of angry, wronged people with bubbling consciences, who will not stop making a spectacle of someone’s horrifying death even now. To BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, this is another Congress mess-up that the party can feast on till the next Lok Sabha polls. A day after the victim is cremated, Swaraj loses no time in stoking a little fire at a public meeting. “We were not informed about her cremation time. Why did the government mislead us? They are just a group of nautankis…”, hollered Swaraj, brimming with righteousness.
Renuka Chowdhury, Congress spokesperson, whimpers two sentences dripping with sorrow, “As mothers of sons, we should be ashamed. We should teach our sons to respect women.” Quickly, following it up with an anti-BJP memo.
On a TV channel near you, the anchor prepares for a TRP blazing debate tonight. “Should we or should we not castrate a rapist?” There’ll be a lot of hollering, lot of dripping feminist-violence sentences and, at the end of the day, very good TV!
And your friend-turned-Facebook activist is writing out a long status update on how she had forgone her New Year plans to show solidarity with the victim. She is a doer, you see.
Two days after her death, the 23-year-old victim is a political pawn, a TRP-magnet and someone’s claim to moral greatness. She is also a hit weekend magazine story – an invasive, exploitative one putting down grim details about how shattered her family was, how many times her mother fainted and how the father who just cremated his 23-yearold daughter is holding up.
She is Honey Singh’s nemesis too. Some enterprising soul, let’s give it to her, an upset one too, finds this to be an opportunity to go after a cheesy, cheeky Punjabi rapper. So she goes after the rapper with an online petition which says: “These pornographic lyrics are unacceptable and it is because of women-hating sentiments like these that men think that it’s fine to do what they did on that bus that December night in Delhi.” Is there a better way to close your eyes to the harder social realities that we have to deal with and hide behind the comforting, fake reassurance of feminism?
Filmmaker Kunal Kohli joined the anti-Honey Singh chorus: ”Come on Gurgaon, show the world, boycott Honey Singh, two days after Nirbhaya/Damini dies, you can’t let him sing such lewd songs. ” How touching! No really! And since the woman is dead there’s little that is wrong with calling her ‘Nirbhaya/Damini’. Ask Mr Kohli how he would have liked to be called Kunal/Karan/Any-random-name-I-fancy?
In our hurry to turn a shocking, numbing tragedy into a symbol, we forget how it happened to flesh and blood people like us. If we did, we would remember, how in moments of terrible grief, even the sound of traffic seems daunting. Imagine putting up with a raucous vox populi on killing and chopping body parts, playing on TV.
No, she was not Nirbhaya. She must have been very, very scared when her life was literally gouged out of her. She was not Damini – a film that made Sunny Deol a star. She is not your shot at pop activism. Mourn, only if you can get off Twitter. Else, spare her the fake sympathy.