Modern Day Senanayak

Today’s Editorial in a newspaper dealt with the disrobing of a woman in a village and the general outrage against what we do to our women was much decried. I just thought of you and wondered, is it the physical disrobing that is considered immoral or the psychological hurt is what really breaks a person. I was suddenly reminded of Mahashweta Devi’s short story “Draupadi” and found the resemblance between you and the Senanayal unbelievable. I feel sorry to think of you in this light but this is what you have come to look like. Senanayak in that story is a man who reads a lot and talks of philosophy but when it comes to capturing and torturing a hapless tribal woman Dopdi, he orders his men “to make her do”. And the way they make her do is perhaps the most horrible scene ever read by me to have imagined what they can do to a woman. And in the morning when the woman is taken to the Senanayak, she has some questions to be answered by him. As usual, he doesn’t have any answer to those questions and stands visibly terrified in front of an “unarmed subject”. In this story Draupadi transforms from an object to a subject.

Now do you know why have I related to such a deplorable character in the world of fiction? What I find sickening in Senanayak is the difference between what he pretends to believe in and actually does in practice. He is a gentleman as he does not do anything on his own but makes his men to do it. So very similar to you when you still maintained the mantle of a gentleman and still doing all the harm that you could do with the help of your own people. Don’t you find the similarity really striking? Draupadi has some questions and one of them is “what more you can do to me?” and another is “Is there a man that I should be ashamed of?”  Senanayak is speechless and Draupadi says, “Come Kounter me.” Though the end is not mentioned but it is that she must have been silenced by killing her. Yes this is what the most you can do to a person who raises voice against the establishment.

If one is not different from the ordinary then he has no right to act like one. I would respect an average human being with his fears and apprehensions and if such a person failed in doing what was expected from him, it was not much of a thing but a person who has different ideas to stand by and impress those around him who care to listen; is never worthy of being pardoned. You knew all along what you were pretending to be and what you were in reality or even you had started believing in what you preached and lived in a sham world.  And fools as we were, we started believing in what you used to say. Big words and even bigger ideas. Sometimes I would wonder how mature you were for your age and I would feel to be so immature what all I could think of was my own people. And you thought of the humanity, the community, nation and the world. I became suspicious of my own narrow world that comprised of my own people. But how wrong I was! When the real testing time came, you came out as a big sham. Just like the senanayak—all words and a miserable failure in the end when he stands helpless in front of an unarmed woman seeking answers. He has none. How can he have any answer when basically he was wrong in the very concept of his being? Words don’t make you. You use them to create an image for you and start believing in that image. I am happy for at least the fact that I had less words and whatever I had, I had the courage to stand by them as well.

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