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March 5 is difficult

because it was my dad’s birthday, birth anniversary — the latter a term I don’t understand — anyway, it used to be, many aeons ago before he died at 56 of lung cancer — his birthday. He never celebrated it. He disliked us fussing about it and barely tolerated a birthday wish. As he grew older, he mellowed and allowed a meal out, a gift or two. I don’t know what made my father so resentful of the day he was born. I don’t know why he was so loathe to celebrate it.

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On March 5, we bombed our own country.  The airplanes flew over Aizawl and well, bombed it.

“No one had imagined that the Union government would bomb its own territory. “It took us by surprise that the government had the courage to deploy jet fighters to bomb Aizawl that it dared not fly inside China or Pakistan,” said Remruata, a village council member. “Well, charity begins at home.”

The bombing caused colossal destruction with some reports saying Aizawl town had caught fire. Fortunately, only 13 civilians were killed.” (Scroll.in)

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The helplessness I often hear when the subject of Indian politics comes up. “But who?” There is anguish in this sense of no alternatives, these Faustian bargains. Well, I don’t know — maybe not the worst person? Here’s the thing: the world is imperfect. Pick the least bad person. Not so hard.

Turns out it was hard for India during the last elections.

Now two years into a regime, many realise it’s a mistake, that there is real danger. Even when they don’t admit it to themselves, especially when they don’t admit it to themselves. They shrug or diminish, say “what do they know?”, or recently re JNU, the more baffling–“they should concentrate on their studies”–because ‘studies’ is a hallowed, vaunted and vacant thing for some, rote and parrot, full marks.

“Did you come first in class,” my father unfailingly asked after every examination. “No,” I unfailingly replied.

These people should go back to their studies, an article says, grumpy. These people should go back to their books so they don’t disturb our universe.  (‘Do I dare disturb the universe?’ Eliot, but you know that.)

The students at JNU seem to be doing that. And it’s making people uncomfortable. I’ll admit : it makes me uncomfortable when I see young boys and girls engaged in something so grueling — and then I let the discomfort record itself and sink, and something else takes over. I don’t yet know what it is — hope, tentative. I’m not brave enough to say I want my daughter to be one of them. That would be BS and my dear blog reader, I don’t BS here. I want my daughter to have the safest, most peaceful, the happiest life that one can(not) even imagine.   However, that involves a free, just, non-violent society. And this is what these people seem to be fighting for. I’m not into hero-worship. I don’t do slogans. But even I can see that.

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I can’t argue politics. Basically, I get bad-tempered. I brood into my iPad, would shout on the phone if the argument came up, have shouted. I’m not proud of it.  So in fatigue, if not wisdom, I’m trying gentler methods. Those haven’t worked so far. I’ve not changed a single person’s political stance. I’m friends (almost) exclusively with people who believe in the same things I do.

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Towards the end, when my father was in the last stages of cancer, he celebrated things a lot. I don’t remember if he ate cake — he never liked chocolate and in fact, eating. But he went to Nepal. He always loved traveling and it was the last trip he took. It wasn’t for his birthday but I seem to remember us celebrating his birthday a little bit as well — my new husband, 24 and still very naive,  trying to figure out this strange new family, and us, my mother, my brother and I, wounded by the knowledge of everything changing / everything dying, eating cake, smiling.

‘Stupps,’ my daughter says, ‘I doing my own stupps,’.  I suppose we were all doing our own stuff by then.

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