“Hum na rahenge, tum na rahonge
Phir bhi rahegi yeh nishaaniya”
Training Students as young as 17 and as old as beyond the age of 35; you can feel the pulse of the society. Young students come to the classroom with minds influenced by the ideas and ideologies of their parents.
I, being a trainer for English language in a Computer hardware and networking Institute, get to meet kids of different ages from different backgrounds, coming as they do from a vast spectrum of different classes, religion and communities.
Thus it is interesting to note the ideas with which the young India, as young as these, have been nurtured.
For example, there is a 17 year old boy who hails from Gujarat, is a big fan of Chief Minister Narendra Singh Modi, believes in Nazi ideologies like mandatory Government killing of people who reach the ripe old age of 60.
He, and I am sure just like his father, likes to believe that the Gujarat riots are just a figment of imagination for the pseudo-logical modern elite, or something that was a great expression of Hindu Identity.
Then there is this huge section of my student populations who are Marathi, and look down upon people hailing from the states of U.P. and Bihar. Everytime I rake up a discussion on some topic, I feel a seething anger that is bubbling under the surface of this huge section of society, waiting to erupt in violent outburst. They believe that the indigenous Marathi population of Mumbai suffer economic deprivation due to mass immigration of people from other States of India. Their anger resonates with the general emotion of helplessness and hurt that is nurtured and aggravated in the lower-middle class Marathi society by the Hindutva politicians of the State.
Then there is a student who believes that the problem of Unemployment in India started when women were allowed to cross the threshold of their household and take up jobs and compete with men. He believes that a woman stands an unfair chance of getting a job over an equally qualified man, by virtue of the fact that she is a woman. He feels unduly discriminated against, and feels women who work lack character.
There is a student who believes that the post-Godhara riots in Gujarat were justified, “in view of the fact that Muslims enjoy a royal treatment at the hands of the Central Government.”
There is a student who believes that Unemployment in India and all other problems are a creation of some Roman Papal plot to spread Christianity all over the world.
There are widespread views such as these, “a million young mutinies” (to use the words of V.S.Naipaul), within the hearts of my students, sown by the communities and environment they come from.
I don’t get to decide nor do I judge them on the basis of their views and ideologies on various issues. But everytime I hear an argument that supports a fascist ideology, or expresses mass pent-up anger or fear… my heart sets aflame with a fire that brings back memories of how violent times were when I was growing up, the riots, the neighbourhood fights, the suffering… And all I want to do is reach out… in love.
And the inevitable happens. The villain of the Gujarat riots, who let Brutality and bloodshed dance on the streets of Gujarat for three days by letting the Hindutva mobs go scot-free rioting while the military was kept outside, has won the Gujarat elections and now is the Chief Minister there.
I hear pro-Hindutva forces, the common man, the clerk in the bank, praising the Speech he gave at Shivaji Park.
I see the Mosque near my Institute buzz with increasing multitude of devout Moslems, turning and clinging to their faith with greater zeal now, inspired by nothing but fear.
As I walk the streets of Mumbai, I feel fear doing rounds of the city, police patrolling in their own paranoia, even more aggressive today to lash out at a group of students that gather in groups to share a joke or two.
I feel the fear that thrives in a student who is a run-away from his house in Northern India, trying his best to study and make ends meet by working.
I feel the grief that a girl stores in her heart, afraid to let anyone know about the insecurity, sadness, silent suffering and perhaps even guilt, that she keeps locked in her heart just to protect her newly-widowed mother. I see her, just 18, grappling to study in a subject (computer hardware and networking) in a language that is foreign to her – English. Quiet, only expressing her anguish with life in her poems, I feel a personal bond with her.
I feel angry at the Class teacher who sighs a breath of relief when an emotionally disturbed student decides to take a break from his studies at the Institute. He used to burst out in anger in class, pick up fights with colleagues and the faculty only to apologize profusely later. I get to know that he is seeing a psychiatrist and a counsellor too.
In that sigh of relief of the other teacher, I discover that the pains and tribulations that I had to undergo in my life, were not in vain, that it has given me the serenity to understand the turmoils of an emotionally disturbed student, in strike contrast to the other people in the institute. I reach out to help the student, to let him know that there is someone in the Institute who understands him, had undergone a similar phase in life and overcome it to a great extent. I want him to continue his studies, but he shudders and declines to accept any help. He inevitably falls into the ravine of withdrawal, so common with somebody who is depressed.
I feel the stress, the confusion, the anger, the grief, the fear, the insults… I feel and live each day with the suffering that these kids silently endure in their hearts. And at the start of each day, when I wake up… more than anything else, all I wish to bring in their life is the balm of selfless love. Of all things, I want them to feel that the world is not that harsh and cruel as they see out there. I wish that they feel the presence of somebody beside them who is willing to accept them as they are, and who really cares.
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
God grant me the serenity to
accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.