My first blog post as part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla, and happily SPONSORED BY RRE Studios and SHOWCASE Events. More posts can be found here.
It is an accepted fact that Indians love to argue. For every occasion we manage to identify points “for” and against the “motion” and arguments begin. We love to show our intellectual supremacy anywhere and everywhere, be it on a street corner or in a TV studio. Our proclivity to argue seems to have got a fillip post 2014. A perennial ideological battle is ongoing in India, where those favoring the ruling party’s point of view are labelled as “Bhakt” and those opposing the ruling party are called many names, for simplicity I shall call them “Protestors.” The following story narrates one such verbal duel.
Being an early riser, Bhavatosh babu claims the first right on the morning news paper. Earlier, he used to carry the paper to the washroom and enjoy it at his own pace, in his own comfort and in peace. With time, other voices in the family got stronger, and not many were comfortable keeping the newspaper from loo on to breakfast table. These days, Bhavatosh reads his news reclining on his easy chair on the terrace enjoying his morning tea. But the excitement of unwrapping a fresh news paper is still alive and kicking, almost akin to unveiling a new bride.
“Chinese virus invades Europe,” the headline in the morning newspaper screamed, “many dead.” Growing up in Kolkata of 1970s, Bhavatosh babu had a sympathetic corner for the Chinese. In numerous breakfast table discussions, Bhavatosh had heard his father openly sympathizing with China’s position in 1962 war. He had seen outer walls of buildings painted with slogans like “China’s Chairman is Our Chairman!” Today, Bhavatosh babu felt deeply offended by the headline making association of a deadly disease to China. “Is it civilized to name a disease after a nation?” Bhavatosh wondered “Maligning a 5000 year old culture! Are we losing all semblance of civility in the era Modi ji?”
“Arre Bangali babu, where are you off to at such a speed?” unable to get a grip on his emotion, Bhavatosh decided to cool down by taking a walk in the park, when Daya Shankar slowed him down. Bhavatosh wondered with a sigh, “forty years in the city, I am still called Bangali babu! Do I call you UP wallah or Bihari babu or Madrasi?”. “It is not good to walk so fast, Bangali babu” Daya Shankar cautioned, “haven’t you heard that you may inhale the Chinese virus coming out of the breath of the person walking ahead of you?”
“Why are you saying Chinese virus, why not American virus, yaar?” Bhavatosh exploded ” didn’t your favorite Modi ji line up people in Ahmedabad and gave us Indians a gift of pandemic? “Arre Bangali babu, infection in Gujarat peaked a month after Trump’s visit,” Daya Shankar tried to reason, fully aware of antipathy Bhavatosh felt for Modi and America “and normally an infection spreads in fourteen days; No way visit of American President can be held responsible for the outbreak in Gujarat.” “Also as per news paper report”, contunued Daya Shankar, “a section of population did not listening to directive of maintaining social distance.” “Now you want to blame a particular community for the disease” Bhavatosh almost exploded, “how far down will you stoop to support your favorite Modi ji?” Looking at the anger in his friends face, Daya Shankar did not prolong the discussion, and decided to go home and urged Bhavatosh to do the same.
A few months had passed. Bhavatosh had mostly been restricted to home. His advanced age and high blood pressure gave an excuse to his family to confine him to home. His simmering resentment at Modi found its vent during a family lunch on Christmas day. “Modi hai to mumkin hai,” his son Aditosh was telling, “now that we have access to vaccines, India has managed COVID really well. We have lowest number of mortality given our creaky healtcare infrastructure, overcrowded cities and widespread poverty.”
“An educated person like you Adi if you had a little bit of self respect you would not have voted for this man to lead a nation of billion people?” long pent up anger of Bhavatosh found an outlet, “ How he enforced lockdown, how he did not provide transport for Migrant workers, how so many people died of COVID due to non availability of hospital beds and ventilators?”
“Dad, Modi inherited creaky infrastructure from his predecessors. Look how he ramped up number of ventilators, ICU beds and personnel protective gears. Most criticism of lockdown are an after thought. Migrant workers did suffer, but decisions are taken in greater common good. Besides government provided free / subsidized ration so that no one went to bed hungry,” Aditosh knew his father was not convinced so to change the topic he asked, “dad when did you last got your pressure and sugar checked? Why don’t I call the healthcare nurse tomorrow for your blood sample?”
Bhavatosh babu was diagnosed with high blood pressure of 200 / 120 mm Hg, and fed blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL. Did his dislike for Modi raised his blood pressure or because his sugar and pressure were so high, Bhavatosh babu was irritable, we would probably never know. Meanwhile, world is still calling COVID virus as Chinese virus, Modi ji is still going strong and ideological polarisation is maintained.