When I chose the title “Dead Men’s city,” I was both skeptical and scarred to use it. But, in the hindsight, I think just apt and perfect for the situation. As a human being, I am ashamed of what has happened in Guwahati just a week ago. A girl was assaulted and molested by a bunch of hooligans in the heart of the city. And, there goes a media channel and, an array of media stories to follow, to air this gruesome act. Yes, you will agree, as like any reasonable person, that the sense of justification and reasoning of airing such a video only displays the lowest journalistic ethos. But, we should not ignore, especially in a consumerist society, that the media, which is a reflection of the society that we live, is driven by market forces and people find it amusing (?) to watch such barbarism on television channels. There is a sense of urgency in this particular incident. This is a welcome step and the guilty should be brought to justice.
Now, I have a very unusual or, if I can use the word, controversial question to it. Why is it that we have woken up only now? Why is it that when the incident was shown on national television that people are hitting the street to demand justice? Why are we doing all that we can for this case? Why are we not shammed to death for any other, unreported incident but widely known among people, cases of molestation? People are questioning the ethics of the media. This is good. But are we questioning our own sense of morality and ethics? Do we question our conscience when we may have ignored such an incident? Can we lay hands on our souls and tell the truth to our own self. You got your answer. That is where we can call our selves hypocrites.
Thanks to media, we are seeing the exposed value system of our society. We are only shouting our voice when we were shammed in public. We have lost our face and we are facing questions from people who would haunt us for our boasting claim to fame about women dignity in Assam. However, we also knew that this is not entirely true. With those disturbing images doing rounds across the country and the world, we are running for covers. We dont know how we will continue to live in the fake blown-up-beyond-proportion ego of culture and social identity that is long dead. We are still drawing inspirations to boast about a cultured society from a bunch of sacred heroes who are increasingly getting diminished from the moral map of the present society.
All that we love to do is to jump the bandwagon and remain loyal to the ‘way of social conformity.’ As we increasingly compromise our own identity, I wonder if we, as a society, will have another hero in near time. It’s appalling that we are starving for heroes and we shy away vehemently to ignore such a reality. We love to live in a world of myth and materialistic bling. We are hardly bothered about what goes out there as long as I am ‘safe.’ This atypical idiosyncrasy of the present society has led me to question us. Where do we stand as a society?
Till the time, it was not aired in the national television, this incident has not insulated such a reaction. Because we love our fake identity and take magnanimous pride in it, this incident shammed us or we are shammed because that the lie that we live in is exposed in front of the world. The foundation, the mascara and the kajal of the society were washed away by this tragedy and the aging wrinkles and horrific scars of our society lay exposed. We dont know what to do or how to go back to our old fake self. We are challenged.
Consumerism and materialism has so much consumed our society that even our values and reputation need to be kicked hard so that it can wake up. Today, sadly, even one’s individual self respect and ethics are driven by market forces. Because it will have negative impact on the overall reputation of the society we should now join in. All that we care about today, is a good marksheet so that one can get admitted to Delhi University (Let the Assam education system go to hell), get a job in an MNC (let the entrepreneurial kick die), get a trophy wife (who cares about love anymore, we need someone who can mingle with my social class), get a car (because its not only about commuting anymore) and a home as early as possible (because I can move to a bigger house on a bigger loan on a later date). In our mad rat race, we forgot to think about our surrounding and ignore the catastrophic implication that it may have on our individual personal lives, our own identity (provided we have one) and an honour (if we care to own it).
With passing days, we will get back to the machine, that we love to log on to, and keep on doing things that were being done. We will post a “RIP” if some elderly looking gentlemen dies without recognizing the contribution that he had towards the society. This is how we remain true to the ‘Conformity Movement’ and we will come out on the street wearing black T Shirt (because we love Metallica) only when its not too shiny or hot to walk out, is a Sunday and more importantly our fake image is not tarnished and our dirty liens are not washed in front of the nation. Otherwise, we are doing just fine and we are happy with the shopping malls, swanky cars and bikes and five star hotels. Who talks about Assamese language, or its identity? Face of protest? Kalaguru Bishnuprasad Rabha, Ambikagiri Raichowdhury? Who are they? They are passe. We are talking about the changing the world, bringing communism by wearing black, man. Heck! How about Ernesto, oh! Sorry! Che Gueverra? He is kind of cool to be worn.
Are we living in a Dead Men’s Society? I am. Dont know about you. Just pinch yourself and you will get your identity. If I sound stupid, its ok.