Updated (25th April 2012) :
CGirl is on a break from this space, and does not want to go into serious thinking, discussing, debating mode. Hence, comments are closed on this post for the time being. Ciao.
Updated (16th April 2012) :
NOTE : I shall no longer reply to comments on this post. Because : a) I have said all that I had to say already b) I can see that we aren’t actually debating – just arguing. c) I do not want to argue endlessly
So, thanks for commenting, and sorry for not responding.
The topic can be taken forward by readers if you wish. I shall simply approve comments from this point.
Son, you know I’m a mother of two. I have you – who is all that is bright, capable, energetic and wise. You are a little tiger cub roaring and raring to take on the world. And your brother, who is crippled by birth. He is bound to his wheel-chair.
I know I am partial towards him. More attention to him. More care to him. Softer with him. Partial to him.
You are hurt to the point of being estranged. It is unfair. I know.
But.. I have only two hands and can only do so much.
Can’t let him go out alone into the world. He can’t survive by himself. Kids throw stones at him when he walks using his crutches.
He may have been given a wheel-chair.. But your argument that “he is mobile now. he doesn’t need special treatment anymore” is weak.
He may have wheel-chairs.. But ramps for wheel-chairs are not yet a default facility in buildings.
And of course, he can not take public transport. He still needs someone to lift him occasionally
If he drops a sheet of paper, he still needs someone to bend to pick it up for him.
He needs special attention. He is easily prone to depression, low self-esteem …. I need to stand by him till he is no longer insecure. Insecurity isn’t a crime, you know. It happens. Quite commonly. Especially in those who have been leading crippled lives.
You’d understand if you think outside of your privileged, rose-tinted world.
You argue that he isn’t all that much a poor little helpless saint. He sometimes takes advantage of my soft-corner to abuse you. When the both of you have fights, he always has this smug “poor me” expression when you come to me for justice. He knows that I would hardly believe you. And I, being partial towards him, always listen to his version first.
That’s true. I am guilty of being arm-twisted easily. But I can’t think of any better way. Between him being ridiculed, abused and oppressed by the cruel world and him turning oppressor sometimes, I choose the lesser evil – the former.
You accuse me of not living up to what I taught you : “All are equal”. If equality is to be taken in the literal sense that idealists like you are so attached to – Yes, I am a hypocrite. A glad one. For your kind of equality to be practiced, the world has to be ideal. Which it is not.
You ask me why the world isn’t ideal. I give you social, historical, psychological reasons. You are never happy.
You ask “It shouldn’t be so. We are all equals and now mature. Why should it still be so?”. It is very easy to ask that.. never to answer that. You would know, since you can never answer your own question.
When I taught you to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, I did not mean to say you take along all your privileges, your independence, your ideals, your maturity. Empathy is more complicated than asking “What would I have done? How would I have felt?”. It is about understanding and accepting the disadvantages and the misery of the other as the person that he is, with the world-view that he possesses.
It is about learning not to be bitter if your brother pushes you to the ground. It is about getting up, dusting yourself off, reminding yourself of the truth.. That even when hurt, abused and wronged, you have it in you to get over and past all of it. That even if you are stripped of your rightful inheritance, you have it in you to start afresh and conquer the world. It is about patiently waiting for the time when neither you nor him would have to put up with unfairness.
That time would come, it would. It would arrive when I successfully take your brother through surgery. Multiple, complicated corrective surgeries. With each surgery, he would get a little better, a little more self-sufficient. With each surgery, I would get less partial towards him, and more understanding towards you. I am sure I would change and not get complacent.
You wouldn’t let me stay unchanged, would you? You would always remind me that I am not really practicing equality. Keep reminding me till then. But do not nag me all the time. Keep feeling hurt till then, if you must. But do not be bitter to your brother. And more importantly, don’t keep distracting me from my goal in your game of seeking attention.
Do not let this hard reality stop you from conquering the world. Do not lose trust in me.
I am after all your mother. I am hard on you only because I know fully well that you can take care of yourself. If you are forced to miss the flight, you would take a bus and reach your destination. While in his current state, your brother would only be stranded crying in self-pity and hatred towards the world. You wouldn’t want that, would you? Your quest for ideal equality surely does not make you overlook practical glitches?
Your mother, Mrs. Law, is tired my son. Your brother is crippled with multiple ailments. Casteism and Oppression against Women to name the major ones. And I can only find non-ideal treatment methods – Caste-based reservation, Women-centric Dowry act, Anti-rape laws, Marital property and Divorce laws etc.
Remember, you have the voice to protest – you blog, go on TV, share FB posts and what not to make your displeasure known. He does not. And yes, he would use the same “Look, I have been oppressed. I need help” line for decades – it may sound clichéd, but it is true.
I can’t be practically be fair, equal and loop-hole free. I am not meant for computers and machined – to be bug free, back-door free, loop-hole free and to give equal run-time to all processes. I am meant for people – and there are far too many possibilities to cover for me to be “fair to all” and impossible to be misused. I can NOT cover them all, no matter how ever extensive I am. Plus, I need to take short-cuts, make generalizations and go by common truths to stay practical and effective. As it is, justice in this country is much delayed because of a flawed system that has made exploiting my loop-holes the norm. Believe me, if I close one loop-hole, there’d be more discovered and exploited. My way, I am at least practical and actually work. The more elaborate I get, the more difficult I am to apply and the easier it is for people to flout me citing minor points.
Don’t ask me to wait for ideal treatments to turn up. I’m afraid your brother would be either long dead or depressed beyond retrieval by then. Don’t frown.
If you can, suggest innovations to the treatment methods. Small, practical ones. Ones that can be implemented quickly enough. Ones for which, we have the means, resources and technology. Ones that would not add to his pain. Ones that would maintain or increase the rate of recovery. Ones that would not be drastically different that it puts him at risk of new ailments. I’d appreciate constructive criticism. Not idealistic condescending accusation.
If you can’t, please change your focus to your own life. And stop nagging me. I need all the time and energy possible to tend to your brother.
Hope you understand,
Your partial mother who knows no better way
The Law of the Nation
Conjecture Girl’s note :
This post was triggered by recent and past reactions to changes in the Law – Dowry act, Divorce and marital property division laws, Caste-based Reservations to name a few.
Why does it always sound to me that the privileged always put up tantrums when these things happen? Citing minor problems?
Dowry Act : Women apparently misuse this law and victimize men. Agreed. Some do. If you have been a victim of this misuse – we are sorry, it should not have happened, but please move on – after all, more often than not, you have the means to fight against this injustice. That is no reason to ask the act to be less accessible to whom it is meant to protect – harassed women and their families. If proceedings against dowry abuse were any more complicated, it would have no takers – an already harassed woman does NOT want to face more torture in the name of law. It is difficult enough, as it is.
Divorce and marital property laws : The same argument holds. Most divorces leave the woman at a disadvantage financially – especially homemakers who have lost careers or simply have had no education or training to create careers because hey, they are any day only going to be married and looking after husband and children! Simply because some men are married to privileged women with good careers and the ability to take care of themselves does NOT mean that a law that is essentially meant to protect the weak is unfair.
Caste-based Reservations :
This perhaps get the most rotten eggs and tomatoes thrown at it. Primarily on three counts :
a) Merit and only merit should be the criterion for all opportunities. This argument can not be more flawed. Comparing the “merit” of students who attend IIT-JEE coaching classes from class 9 or 10, (not to mention different kind of classes and personality development programmes through their childhood) with a child who has no means to obtain even quality primary education is plain stupid. If a student from a rural background, who has been studying while helping in his father’s agriculture work right from childhood, who can barely speak English can crack JEE even with reservations, he IS far more able and brighter than a privileged student who has had coffee come to his table while studying all day and after numerous coaching classes, reference materials etc. Merit CAN NOT be gauged with mere numbers as is done in this country’s education system.
b) The percentage of reserved seats is increasing exponentially and depriving deserving candidates from the General stream. I can safely say that whenever the percentage of reserved seats is increased, the total number of seats is increased so as to keep the number of general category seats in tact. The privileged have been, are, and will be, fighting for the same number of seats irrespective of reservations. Yes, the number of seats are not increasing with the population – there is a huge supply-demand gap. Ask for more colleges, more universities – not to scrap reservations. Ask for recruitment of more faculty to take the burden of increased number of seats, ask for better packages and research grants and freedom in the academia to attract quality faculty – not blame the reserved candidates for the pressure on the system.
c) Reserved candidates ‘dilute’ the quality of the products of the ‘premium institutes’. Come again, really? Being an insider, I can assure you that the quality drop is because of the “meritorious” minds having been trained to become pattern-matching machines by the coaching center culture. It has nothing to do with the reserved candidates. In fact, their struggle once they enter this “main-stream” is worse than what they had to put up with before. How much ever they improve themselves and achieve, the “reserved candidate” tag never leaves. If they commit mistakes as is natural of human beings, it is always linked to their caste. Who ever says casteism is non-existent in the “elite” society needs to get their eyes and ears checked. The elite simply do it subtly.
I can go on & on about this – it would need a whole new post and this one is too long already.
So, I stop with this : Before you sulk or tantrum, think about the bigger picture and for the long-term. And remember, you are already privileged and strong enough to be fine in spite of “unfair” laws. Time to stop being all idealist and to make practical sense when dealing with complicated issues.