IS IT WORTH LOSING OUR HARD-EARNED FRIENDSHIPS FOR OUR HARD-LINE VIEWS?















“There is nothing more dangerous than the conscience of a bigot.”
- George Bernard Shaw

I love the word ‘Kattar'.  Because, I fully understand the meaning and significance of this word… I, also, know the consequences of being one….

A die-hard, a hardcore, a staunch, a fanatical, blindly-driven, a dogmatic, bigoted, overzealous, irreconcilable, sworn, hard-line… rabid, partisan…

There are another half-a-dozen cousins of this word ‘Kattar’…

I have so many friends and acquaintances around me. If I make my kattarness public, I know its consequences: more than ninety percent of my friends and acquaintances would turn into my enemies...

Two fields which tend to make most of us kattars are Religion and Politics. Our affiliations can be so strong here, that we, often, become blind… we act blind… We also act as if we are intoxicated or drugged… We also behave, speak and act as if someone has cast a spell on us… We can be utterly dumb and stupid here…

My dad was one. He worshipped Mrs. Indira Gandhi so much… so much … so much that after the Emergency when everyone from her top party head to her chaprasis – yes ehn all started deserting her, calling her the worst dictator India had ever seen and all that my dad - in our remote village, with his greasy mechanic clothes, desi booze and beedis – chose to remain her bhakt… His friends, relatives and neighbours every one had turned against Mrs. Gandhi… everyone was angry about Nasbandi, the compulsory sterilization (Family Planning drive spearheaded by her son, Sanjay Gandhi)… Everyone was angry about the excess of the Emergency… but, my dad could see no wrong. He kept praising her, worshipping her… glorifying her. As a young boy, I was not able to understand what was going one… why my dad got into fights and enmities everywhere… that, too, for a cause which would never, ever serve him… He would never meet Mrs. Gandhi or Sanjay Gandhi… They would never ever come to bail him out of his daily trouble with money and poverty… Still, he swore by them… They were pious and pure!

I thank my dad for being a kattar Indira Gandhi follower. Because, I could see how it made us, his innocent children, too so… We all had begun to blindly worship Mrs. Gandhi…

But, then, it did not take me too long to understand how dangerous the kattarness – the bhakthood – could be… To know how similar a Nasbandi and a Notebandi can be!

Today, I don’t publicly indulge – don’t take a hard-line - in these two issues: Religion and Politics. Both can be terribly intoxicating and self-harming. I would rather keep my friends and acquaintances than lose them. To lose a hard-earned friendship for the sake of a hard-line political or religious view?

No sir, it is not worth it.

My dad, a die-hard bhakt of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, got nothing out of worshipping her or justifying the Nasbandi programme she and her son, Sanjay Gandhi, had unleashed during Emergency. No congressman came to counsel him when he drank (desi) like a fish and smoked (beedi) like a chimney… None of them came to his funeral when he died young one Sunday morning!

 Here, many of my friends around, who keep swearing by one leader, party, religion, deity, custom or the other – yes, they will get nothing out of their kattarness, their bhakthood…

Yes, one thing they will surely get: a strange kick!


GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Chetna Shetty

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