I called my colleague Sandipan the other day and told him I had an 'outrage crisis'.
"What's the nature of it?" he asked.
"I am running out of things to be outraged about," I replied. "Can you help me before I hit the panic button?"
There was a long silence. Then,
"What's your list so far?" he said.
"I am outraged over the caste system, rape, the Dalit beatings which are just going on and on, this whole gau sevak thing, terror attacks, wars in Yemen and Syria, the treatment of refugees, the Kashmir issue and the scant respect for our soldiers, with the defence minister more concerned about Aamir Khan's comments to his wife last year than the Chinese build-up in Uttarakhand," I said.
He said, "Hmm..." (Not the defence minister, Sandipan.)
I continued: "On another level I have also dispensed outrage over Kanhaiya Kumar, Shobhaa De’s tweets, trolls, Rahul Gandhi sleeping in Parliament, Mr Modi’s trips abroad and how, in the end, nothing pans out, the way no one in my house understands the value of money and won’t switch off the lights, all car mechanics (regardless of their caste, colour or creed), guarantee cards that do not guarantee diddly, banks that charge me colossal sums of money on tiny loans, all credit card collection departments (may they burn slowly like camphor in the fires of hell), people who make promotional calls on Sunday afternoon and Arvind Kejriwal."
He (Sandipan, not Arvnd Kejriwal) said, "Hmm... what about corruption?"
I said, "Whaaat! We have written corruption into the ground. I have expressed outrage 27 times over bureaucrats and principal secretaries being caught with their paw in the cookie jar and have run out of synonyms." "Can you go beyond 'hmm' and be a little supportive this Age of Outrage?" I added. "I mean we have to look beyond Subramaniam Swamy or he will outfox us like Hannibal did the Roman empire."
I went on:
"I’ve shown outrage over bills, over the plumbing, over insolent subordinate staff, our neighbour’s loud music, their ghastly teenage kids, rich youngsters who drink and drive and kill people and those who stand by and watch injustice unfurl like a ragged flag and headmasters who want the national anthem banned 68 years after Independence (took you so long to figure out something), all the politicians who blame chop suey for rampant hormones and their faux pas tribe, so can you loan me some outrage? I am really short on it this month."
"I’ll pay it back," I said, "promise".
Sandipan said, "(What about) celebrities? Lots of scope there."
"Done and dusted," I countered. "Outrage over comments on Lata and Sachin, outrage over Salman Khan’s rape remark, Leander Paes trotting into Rio, Vijay Mallya getting all the good seats at Shaftesbury Avenue, doctors turning healthy people into ‘reference’ patients to meet quotas, even Suraj marrying his mum-in-law! I am getting frantic here!"
And then I had the epiphany.
Expressing outrage over all this outrage — now that is a new one! I said goodbye quickly to Sandipan before he caught on to and stole my idea, and got down to writing about all you folks who are constantly expressing outrage. Stop it! You think it grows on trees? You have to preserve this commodity — not fritter it away.
I am outraged at the way people dispense outrage as if it were from a bubble gum machine. Equally, it outrages me when they want their outrage to shine more than mine.
But nothing outrages me more than the fear that if we run out of it (like potable water), what on earth will we do for a living?