On Sunday, I walked into my home at around 6.00pm in a haze of self-satisfaction.
You know that feeling you get when you feel a bit light-headed and warm and just really happy for no obvious reason? You might’ve felt it when you watched a good movie or stumbled upon the perfect dress after a hard day of shopping. Or even when a simple “Good morning” message you sent to your friend was responded to warmly.
Well, I felt that yesterday. Very intensely.
Let me explain why I felt so – from the very beginning. It all began when the news of the brutal gang rape of the 23-year-old at Delhi went viral. At that time, I was totally immersed in the Arts fest at my college and hadn’t even been home for about 3-4 days. So only when all the dust of the Arts fest and the fight for the Overall Trophy had settled, did I come to know about the incident. Needless to say, I immediately joined the numerous social media users in proclaiming my anger and even posted directions for the judiciary on how to deal with such heinous criminals (in CAPS, no less). The soft copies of the fury, support and pain felt for the brave-heart were duly recorded on a massive scale in FB and Twitter. It was a crazy time. As they say, we Indians are blessed with a sense of righteous indignation and oneness which is usually voiced when there is a cricket match or a war or such high-profile delinquency. So we stood as one, supporting our brothers and sisters holding candle-light vigils & protest marches at Delhi and signing petitions for the strengthening of measures for protection of women. After all, that was all we could do at the moment.
And then, one of my friends invited me to be a part of an initiative to organize a peaceful protest march at Thrissur. I agreed on principle, fully-believing that it’ll remain as a concept on paper. For one, it seemed a little odd to organize a demonstration after the news had cooled. Besides, I didn’t think anybody would actually turn up because it is one thing to verbally spray out your feeling within the safety of 4 walls and another to actually go out and do something (especially in the light of the police intervention at the rallies at Delhi). So when I was told that a demonstration was organised on Sunday at Saturday night, I was initially a bit skeptic. But then I thought “Why not?” and tried to find out if any of my friends were gonna be there. (You know, safety in numbers and all that) But as it was all planned in a jiffy, a lot of genuinely interested people were tied up with errands and couldn’t make it.
So on Sunday, it was just 10 of us, armed with posters and charts, who turned up at Thekinkkadu Maidanam. Clearly, it was stupid to carry out a rally with just 10 people. So we contented ourselves with hanging up placards and pasting posters all around the Swaraj Round, pushing for speedy implementation of the verdicts in the numerous rape cases all over India. And that in itself was an experience. Everywhere we went the innate curiosity of an average Keralite followed. People paused to look at our posters – some nodded their heads, some giggled, a few looked embarrassed on our behalf and some walked on as if they were blind. Oh and we did get a LOT of “ee penpillerkonm vere joli ille?” kind of looks (even though there were a few guys in the group). Looking back, I feel a bit astonished at the dignity with which we walked on; our heads (and the placards) held high, regardless of the numerous eyes on us, majority of them filled with scorn or amusement. There were a few moments like when all the sun and the slights seemed worth it. Like the moment when a group of women (masonry workers, from their attires) made us stop, read our slogans and placards and walked on after lauding us for the “good gesture”. Or the beggars on the side walk who blessed us with “kuttikale ningal nannayi varum”.
But best of all was that glow of self-respect that I felt when we had pasted our last poster and moved on. Make no mistake – I am fully aware of the insignificance of our action when you look at the larger picture. Neither am I under any false sense of accomplishment that this gesture of ours would influence the Thrissurites. But the fact that I was able to do something other than spurn obscenities at the TV or Facebook is undeniable. And that is enough for me at the moment.