The songwriter of the movie Purab aur Paschim writes a complete lie in the song when his lyrics say ‘kale, gore ka bhed nahin har dil se hamara naata hain’(Unlike rest of the world we Indians aren’t bigots). It must be an ideal India he and many dreamed which is not a reality, not yet. The nature of social discrimination in our country is so vast that it should be confusing for people in how many ways we are different but we remember it all when we come in contact with others.
I had not wanted it to post this on the blog. I wrote my disgust on the following incident in a private mail to my brother and my sister. My sister Meg suggested me to put it on my blog. To put in her words, “the least we can do is call this out as the nonsense that it is”.
The reason I did not want it to put this on blog is I felt the ones who were discriminated do not know they were, why bring it to their notice? Though I realized that the ones who face it directly or indirectly, we kind of want to pretend they don’t see it. They do and the good thing is they are vocal about it.
It is easier to write on politics than social evil. Everyone hates politicians, why shouldn’t we? They make money, big money. It is difficult to write on social evils that involves real people in our circles. We the people who will look like we are in agreement with caste discrimination as a social taboo but will carefully check and mind our ways of association with others, will not proceed further without checking their surnames first.
So here is what happened-
Today the maid made it clear in the conversation that she is no longer working for ‘that’ house. Whether she was giving me an account of how many cleaning jobs she had or she gave me a deliberate idea of leaving that job, I don’t know.
‘That’ job means a house of other caste people that her community considers low and they would never think of working for them.
Couple of days back she complained how it is only now that she came to know that they were of this caste, and how she would have never taken up the job if she knew it earlier.
She shocked me. Even though I know how caste problem still exists I could not have imagined its existence near Mumbai and so in-your-face. I had told her how ridiculous I thought of her not working for them which probably resulted in the morning conversation.
I remembered the time when the maid’s husband did not have a job and she complained daily about it. I remember her telling me how when certain employer did not treat her nice and me becoming sympathetic on it. I have been protective of her against any discrimination in our home since my mother never understood the need for a maid. After all this, it is shaking me to the core that she wouldn’t have thought kindly of me if I was born to that caste or if I was married to someone from that caste.
‘That’ house people stay in another wing of the housing society now but they lived on same floor last year. The lady literally rescued me when I was in dire need of a witness in police station for the passport procedure. What is more amusing, they are cleaner and organized than us, the maid had least job to do there. I remembered how I had tried suggesting hiring our maid to the other neighbors from the same caste when the woman of the house was hospitalized. They considered my suggestion but did not take it. Is it possible that they are quite aware of and have experienced racism already? I’m trying to realize how many times I would have faced this humiliation if I was born in another caste and what kind of person I would have been. Certainly a lot less considerate of this society!
Nowadays, daily in the morning, I don’t feel good to see the maid. But I also know she is not one person. There are these close relatives and I see their superiority complex is being passed to the next generation. They are a tradition that ought to have been wiped off by now but one thing about time that I have come to realize is unlike technology, the progression of a society is not an automatic process with aging years. It completely halts without a deliberate push and can even roll us back to the dark age.
The thing is I feel this shook me because I don’t believe in the idea sowed deep in our mind by the religion that is we are destined to be born in certain caste which most people believe in. Otherwise people would have been less tolerant about ridiculous practices if they thought there was a probability it could be them suffering insults like this.
It is not going. I’m more disturbed because we don’t even have a wind of change flowing that will correct all this. We have quite compromised with the situation and there is no dissent that will bring any further revolution.