A friend of mine once said to me, eyes shining like flashy black beads, "In a way, I am glad that homosexuality is illegal, because it allows us gay people to be truly disruptive. We have our little secret codes about where to meet on the Metro and what book we might be carrying as a sign. All of that lovely mystery and surreptitiousness will go out of the window once we are legit and a part of me will miss that."
It was an off-the-cuff-remark but it taught me so much about the kind of disruptive politics and sexuality I aspire to. This is what I promise here, in my column. And there's a pressing need for it.
Look around you and most of what you see and read and sense is gloomy.
It's heavy with the loss of demonetisation, of the shrinking of free expression, of fear and the irrepressible onward march globally, of the politics of unreason. But I've taken stock in this first week of the new year and I am done whinging. I am going to follow my gay friend and go back to a time when we were all - in a sense - gay.
We didn't need to tell the whole world what we thought or who we seduced. A case in point from that pre-social media, pre-internet pre-cellphone era. A friend in college who was also with me in my post graduate class remarked: "Revati, tell me; are you capitalist or socialist? When we were in our BA class, I thought you were socialist, and now I think you're capitalist."
I smiled and replied in a truly old-world way, unrelenting of the mysteriousness of my political position: "I am neither!"
How happy and free are those moments when we can take that power back from the prescriptive and deeply disempowering world we find ourselves in.
|And you will miss the sound of steel lotas clanking their hootch the night before an election.|
Think of what we might do if this was an erstwhile lover for whom we have cried our eyes out. Or a parent who we may be fearful of and are trying hard to shake off with the sentence - "Here I am. I have arrived."
Applied now to the very scary parent in chief in charge of the nation, I am going forth as the disruptive diva. Instead of shouting every time I enter a cinema hall for the forced fealty required as the national anthem is played; I will strut about outside buying popcorn till the moment has passed. Or not.
Why should you know?
I will also shift my gaze firmly away from The glass-box people who live inside my TV. People who don't even believe their own make-believe stories about the nation. I will focus instead on the far more interesting and definitely defiant voices from the ground.
People who stood in line to vote in a panchayat election in Gujarat last week and swore they would vote for the BJP-backed candidate. Then went into the polling booths and did the opposite. None of the "we need to say everything we think on Facebook". Thank you very much!
Such sexy seduction is only possible if you put your rural cap back on and get down and dirty. Suddenly a world of new and delightful grey subversion opens up. No sentences that begin with "cash versus cashless" even exist.
Frankly my dear, they couldn't give a damn. The politics at the long and shadowy distance of the state matters only in what it can deliver directly. Where people live. BJP. Congress or whoever else happens to be around.
Peel your eyes away from this at your own peril. And you will miss the sound of steel lotas clanking their hootch the night before an election.
Men who demand from their political masters-to-be that they deliver on the only promise that matters in the non-alcoholic state of Gujarat. Alcohol.
Stay away from this writing, I dare you! And you will also miss the voices from ghettos in Ahmedabad - including one that is run by a woman gangster who makes the men in the area shudder at the prospect of displeasing her.
Where culture is most streamlined, it is also most disrupted. I listen to the raucous cackle of women from impoverished and definitely disempowered backgrounds as they tell me: "To hell with men. You're lucky you're a free spirit. Don't EVER get married!"
I laugh encouragingly when they say this in the presence of their husbands and tormentors-in-chief, knowing full well that they are borrowing my disruptive spirit for a momentary release.
A small but public ejaculation splat in the faces of people they otherwise dare not disobey.
It is after all, the human condition, isn't it? When you are most expected and coerced into conforming, you are often at your creative and insurrectionist best.
I am on a mission this year, to curate the best and brightest for you. Disruptions that is.
Peel your eyes away and you will indeed miss many things.
Shoes and ships and sealing wax, Of Cabbages and Kings. And why the sea is boiling hot. And whether pigs have wings - Lewis Carroll, Through The Looking Glass.