I want to talk about two recent sad deaths. One of George Floyd and the other Sushant Singh Rajput (who was incidentally my neighbor for a couple of months).
Let me first begin with a childhood story about one of my neighbors, that I recollected after I saw Indians posting vehemently on Social Media with the hashtag #blacklivesmatter. So basically this post is stories of two of my ex-neighbors.
This was back in 1990s, we had a neighbor whom I would call as Didi. She was a kind and loving lady, who took good care of me after my mom’s untimely death. She was a spinster whose only family was her sisters, nephews and nieces.
One of her nephews went to the USA to study. After completing his studies, he wrote back to his mother that he was getting married to an American girl and settling down there. Back in those days people were not proficient in using email, social media was still not invented and telephone was costly. Therefore, most of his correspondence with his mother was through handwritten letters.
After a year he became a father. When his child turned one year, he decided to come and visit his mom in India along with his wife and child. His mom and her family, including Didi were quite excited. They started preparing for the homecoming of the son and his American family. Didi was excited and started shopping for the new bahu. She chose bright colours as she believed that bright colours would suit the American bahu.
On the day of arrival, the entire clan reached the airport to welcome the new American bahu. They waited with baited breath for the bahu, but the moment they had the first glimpse of the bahu, the whole family literally choked of shock. The new American bahu was actually an African-American bahu, something that no one in the family had even thought in their ‘nightmare’. They had taken for granted that an American wife meant a white wife. The entire excitement evaporated and was replaced by gloom.
When I met Didi, she was visibly depressed and she said “meyeta ekdam Rakhoshir moto dekhte, eto kutkute kalo j andhokare dekhte pabina. Ei rakam baje dekhte meyekei biye korar chilo to amader desher ekta meyekei korto, ora anek beshi sundari hoto.” (The girl looks like a black monster, she is so dark you won’t find her in the dark, if he had to marry such an ugly girl he could have married an Indian girl, am sure she would have been prettier)
Didi did not understand that she was being racist because I am sure numerous other Indian families would have reacted the same way. Racism is so ingrained in us that even in 2020 we post matrimonial advertisement for pretty and ‘fair’ bride. We cannot accept dark skinned Indians, we taunt our dark skinned cousins, classmates, film heroines and brides. However, we also post on our social media #blacklivesmatter. Even today if we meet a white skinned foreigner we melt but react adversely to Nigerians and Africans. Forget foreigners, we are not even kind to the Dravidian population for their dark skin. We are carrying the relic of colonialism strongly on our shoulders and then posting about the justice for George Floyd. Aren’t we the worst hypocrites?
Now, the story of my another neighbor. When I shifted to Mumbai, I shifted to a building full of TV actors, scriptwriters and singers. Incidentally, Sushant also stayed on the same floor and we occasionally met in the elevator. I do not watch soap operas so I had no clue about Pavitra Rishta, where he played the hero. To me he was just another TV guy until I watched Kai Po Che. Let me be honest, I have hardly watched couple of his movies. However, to me he was always the ‘boy next door’. We were neighbors more than a decade back but when I read about his suicide, I suddenly remembered him as the fellow I used to bump into in the elevator.
After his news broke, the whole social media again started crying crocodile tears. Every person started writing ‘ if you feel depressed, do call me, I am there to listen’. However, I know in reality these are the same people who would call me a whiner and a cry baby if I call them. This is as fake as ‘black lives matter’.
Mental Health is not such an easy thing to deal with. Those of us who have visited the dark corners of our minds know how difficult it is to gather ourselves when we hit the rock bottom. It is easy to give gyan on social media but difficult to practice in real life. So before posting on social media let us consider, does really all lives matter to us?
The worst was the reaction of Bollywood who are now crying for him, whereas few days back were taunting and mocking Sushant for his outsider status. However, I would prefer to write a separate long post on Bollywood nepotism and hypocrisy.
Let me end this post by praying for two souls who went too soon. #RIPGeorgeFloyd #RIPSushant