This is the season of Award Wapasi. Everyone is returning whatever award they can dust off from their closet to return to someone. Doesn’t matter who they return to as long as someone in the media covers it. Some have even gone to the studio with signed UNADDRESSED checks and returned it to.. well the TV station itself!
It is in such an atmosphere that I bumped into my friend, Gajendra Babu.
The usually unflappable gentleman was very uneasy and angry. After the initial niceties, I asked “So what’s new Gajendra Babu? Something wrong?”
“Haven’t you heard?” he asked with complete disbelief.
No, what’s up? I inquired.
“Arre, Intolerance has come in India. And we cannot tolerate that at all!” came the quick, forceful and emphatic reply.
Huh? Some new foreign visitor this “Intolerance”? And if you cannot tolerate Intolerance, doesn’t that add upto to Intolerance too? I surmised speaking aloud. It was like a simple mathematical reality to me.
“What?!!! Intolerance is the lack of tolerance of those guys. That, is something that cannot be tolerated! Get it?” as his wide eyes stared at me with expectation of a Professor explaining the obvious to a dumb student.
Hmmm, I paused to think and then started again.. who decided who they are and how they are so decidedly intolerant? If you don’t tolerate them, can they also call you intolerant? Does it work that way too? Just asking.
“What? Are you a fool? How can we give them the freedom to make that decisio on us? If we do that, then this nation will go to dogs! No, my friend, we are the only ones who make that decision.” said Babu with a self confident air about himself and a contemptuous smirk.
So, if they are intolerant, the country goes to the dogs. But if you are intolerant of them, then where does the nation go?
“Arre, arre , arre… we are not Intolerant!! We just don’t tolerate their intolerance! And, as for the nation, we will have equality and justice for all with everyone having equal freedom to express everything”
Aah, so you decide, you accuse, you sentence others and give them no say. That’s quite a blueprint for equality. It was now dawning on me that I was being subjected to a circular argument.
“You won’t understand. Accha chhodo… I need to do something about all this!” Gajendra-ji announced.
Sure, you can start a blog and write or you can share your thoughts on twitter. I suggested.
“Naah that won’t do! I need to return something. Something BIG!” with the special emphasis on the last word!
He started again. “You know, Desh babu, I am thinking…..”
What Gajendra-ji? You have some award with you that you won lying somewhere? I asked like an excited kid. This was getting really exciting now for me!
“Kya yaar.. I want to be different. And besides no one ever gave me any award.”
“I am thinking of returning the Taj Mahal” he said with pompous delight.
Which one? That one I got for you from Delhi’s Janpath? I remembered having gifted him the replica some years back. For me suddenly it was a matter of honor that Gajendra Babu held that in such high esteem!
“Dhat! Not that. The R E A L Taj Mahal in Agra” drawing out the word real as long as he could.
Hain?! THE Taj Mahal? But that doesn’t belong to you. Government owns it I think. Now things were getting too confusing!
“Government may own it, but it belongs to us citizens of India. So as a citizen, I can surely RETURN it!!!”
Hmmm interesting! But sir, help me understand… whom will you return this to?
“To the Government of course!!” like a parent is talking to a silly kid.
Don’t they own it already?
“Yes, but it doesn’t BELONG to them!! It belongs to us citizens!!”
So, if all the citizens own the Taj Mahal, and you return it. Then, Gajendra babu are you no longer planning to be a citizen of India? Moving out of India? I asked harmlessly.
“I knew it!!! You too are a fascist saffronist guy!! You want to tell me to go to Pakistan now??!! Huh?! Tell me.. go ahead tell me .. I know that is what you mean! You intolerant fascist!!!”
That one simple question had suddenly riled up Gajendra Babu really badly. He left in a hurry and angry at me.
Taj Mahal.. hmmm.. I was left thinking. Well, I asked myself that if Dibakar Bannerjee – whom the National Award wasn’t even given to for Khosla ka Ghosla, could return it, then for Gajendra Babu to return the Taj Mahal wasn’t such a ridiculous idea after all. Was it?