You have two choices: poetic and factual.

The purpose of this post is not to be poetic. It does not dwell in ordinary hearts to heave and throw tantrums via words, as waging wars are in engagement, livelihoods at stake. The purpose of this post is not to be factual, either.

The seats were empty–they could have glistened in human sweat. As were the streets, where a pendulous child’s heart could have craved for a banana whistle or a candy wrist-watch. We were promised that the colors would be vivid; and in the collective gasps, the violets would shimmer, the reds glisten, the blues mutiny. The women’s breasts would heave at manhoods performing, the mid-monsoon shouts during delays in alcohol serving, sweethearts longing to plough the fields wreathed afresh after the tumultuous rain: Pongal days, they call them, and it’s always one for the master and one for the dame. Like a drop of coffee in cloud of milk (borrowed metaphor), the Gods’ eyes would scan the crowd waiting for the gavel to strike the horn wood desk, but the vicious smell of spirit in their black snouts would cloud their judgements. Their tails would be twisted. Their horns cut-off to expose nerves. Amidst thunderous claps in approval of slaughter, the Gods would then be set free. And they’d run. Like all Gods would.

On 12th January, 2016, the Supreme Court of India sat on its haunches with a beedi dangling in between its lips and said Jallikkattu had to be banned despite the ruling of the Centre. The ruling came after being challenged by the Animal Rights Activists: like an obdurate ceiling fan you don’t know which way is running–clockwise or anti-clockwise? The machinery of democracy would get your hopes high, makes promises like buying you the cheapest smart-phone in the market, but waft away at the first chance of escape. Like well-spent money on a money-holding wallet. Like adding up halved factors that could never be whole.

It’s so hard to write metaphors that it’s hard not to write them.

The spectacle is longer than you or I could imagine: it’s not very unlike the reality shows you see on TV, except it begins with the crowned, the chosen ones, the victors. The debates between Culture and Rights–the painstakingly long ones that have engulfed Gladiator combats and Spanish Bullfighting in whole gulp. While on one side, you could say it’s a game as old as the Indus Valley Civilization and on the other you could say animals need rights, too. Unlike traditional rules, same person can sit on either sides: the youth, a fan of Super Star Rajinikanth, opposing the ban could also be the elderly upper-caste PETA activist who was secretly enjoying all the media attention that his/her family could not give. Sruthisagar Yamunan of The Hindu writes, “[revoking the ban of Jallikkattu] would take the country back by a few steps in the crucial area of Right to Life.” And the legend says he lay basking in attention after that for a million years.

We hear cries: oh, yes. Songs are being written, short-films geared up. Wind howls in favor of the diminished, of the smallest of ships set on voyage, but in this case of what media highlight. “This is our Tamil culture,” the person barks, his nerves tingling, his eyes maundering; “this is not cruelty to animals at all,” the other person says as he adjusts his mundu, not his usual swathe; the next person clears his throat in some semblance of effect; “breeds are going to die out ’cause of the ban”. He was bitten by a cobra last month after more than a ten-year ban of snake-charming. And as usual, news-papers wait on all their fours, their tongues dripping fluids, and the bone-throwers never cease to amuse them. Supply-chain.

Culture lives in souls of the peoples. Of what you do and what you don’t. In your best and the worst. It can’t be captured in a single blood sport. It does not dwell in ordinary hearts to heave and throw tantrums, waging wars putting livelihoods at stake. It begins with kind words to prostitutes and observance to censor-boards. It rejoices in every victor marching toward St George’s, its loser in penultimate seat during swearing-in. It rages in rapes, whines with Grey’s Anatomy’s lesbian gospel. It hounds down sword-wielders with one-sided love stories, reaps the benefits of Infosys with rail-road rascals. It tears up for Mallya roads, for the one who could still be sleeping on pavements, if not for gasoline-reeking, screeching Khans. It trembles in intolerance for nudity of cows, despairs for McDonald’s lack of crunchiness in its fries. It begins with ringing and ends with you answering the phone. You say “Hello”. And it says–

“Hi, do you have a moment to talk about our Lord, the Savior, Shri Shri Narendra Modi Ji?”

Now you have two choices.


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