We are like this only

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 16, 2012 20:00 hrs

Our great leader is going to die. Let us go on a rampage, shake down shopkeepers, burn half a dozen buses and torch a few minority communities.

Our great leader has been assassinated. Let us hunt down members of the community who killed her. Yes, we know they had nothing to do with her death, but let us go from door to door, hunt down innocent householders, rid them of their pride, their sense of manhood and their self-respect, destroy their homes and shops, devastate their colonies and kill as many of them as we can.

There’s a cricket match being played against our neighbouring nation. Someone has scored the victory run against us. Traitors in our colony have burst firecrackers in treacherous jubilation. They do it each time to irk us. Bring the kerosene cans, match boxes, and BBM your friendly neighbourhood goons to set fire to their hovels, rape their women, beat their children, burn their holy books and teach them a lesson they shall never forget.

A playwright has insulted a highly regarded dead poet. He has called him “mediocre”. Let us start a national campaign of outrage. Call in the talking heads, the official sound-byters, the card-holding intellectuals, the embedded usual suspects. Let us say “how dare he” and “it’s a conspiracy”, let us question his own work. Let no one ever make the mistake of offering literary criticism. Not now. Not ever. Not again.

An author sitting in North America has written a book. It’s on our college syllabus. No one has read it. We think it says something mocking about our great leader. We do not approve. We must teach him a lesson. Call for the chancellor’s resignation. Have the book pulled off the syllabus. Have it banned. Issue a warning to the author. Make sure that he will never set foot in this great country of ours. Not now. Not ever. Not again.

Girls at a pub. In short skirts. Tight jeans. High heels. You know what to do. Round up some suitable boys. Maybe call in a few TV crews. Have a gang-bang. A retribution revival. An outrage outing. Let us show them how we like to see our women dressed by undressing them and raping them, and showing them how to behave themselves in public.

Ah, the famous/notorious author has written a new book. How dare he. We shall issue another fatwa. We shall call for his apology. We shall disrupt his literary discourse. We shall make his life hell.

What is that you say? Have we read the book? No, we repeat again, we have not read the book. We have no time to read. There is important work to be done. What do you take us for? Literary critics? We’d be out of business if we sat down to read the books we ban, see the paintings we torch, watch the films we censor, listen to the people we oppose, talk to the people we hate.

The world is not safe yet. There are too many works of art and free literature still to get around to erasing. Too many leaders whose deaths we have to avenge. Too much mayhem and destruction left to spread.

That reminds us. Our great leader is dying. How shall we show him our respect? How do we prove our unbeaten loyalty, our irrepressible obedience?

Simple: Destroy. Rape. Torch. Loot. Kill.

Malavika Sangghvi is a Mumbai-based writer

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