Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lady Demagogue

There is a lady who stands outside Arts Faculty these days and speaks continuously for an hour or two in the area around the statue. Her long monologues in Hindi are usually diatribes against the state of the world. The first time I heard her, she was speaking on the topic of corruption - this was around the time of the Ramlila protests. On other occasions, I have heard her speak on the television ("idiot box"), on family values and the youth. She doesn't use a microphone, or any other gadgets for that matter - she brings along with her a huge poster, which is placed right next to where she's standing, and starts speaking extempore to an imagined audience. More often than not, she attracts a small crowd of students, one or two at most. She dresses in a simple, dull sari and doesn't wear any jewellery.

Her voice carries far and her gestures and facial expressions are dramatic. She seems unfazed by the people around her, or lack thereof, and her eyes are always wide and fiery, alight with her forceful words and brisk and harsh hand movements. The first time I heard her speak, she concluded with the words, "Let me fight this battle alone, but fight I will!" ("Mein is jung mein akeli hi sahi, par mein ladte hi rahoogi!")

She is an anomaly. People are bewildered by her and stare as they slowly walk past the gate. As she speaks, she looks into the eyes of those passing by but without pausing, without being affected by the indifference or curiosity she may find there.

I find her very brave. I find her ability to come and speak at a place like this, day after day, with nothing but her dramatic will, quite amazing. Why is she here? Why does she do it? She is a relic from the past. She appears to me to have stepped out of my mind's picture of the colonial period, delivering loud and unembarrassed harangues in the middle of the street, fiery speeches against racist oppression.

7 comments:

elbisivni said...

Takes a lot of strength and courage of the character and mind.
I can only hope to do so in a crowd.

Arjun Rajkhowa said...

It does and it's so unusual to see someone like this today, so odd and misplaced.

elbisivni said...

So odd and misplaced, yet bold. Is that what being bold is? I guess. When you stand up to do something absolutely different from the norm, the norm stares at you like you were some cheap kid on the block, with nothing but an outstretched hand to beg. I hope her voice reaches somewhere.

Arjun Rajkhowa said...

I guess she knows that her actions will not have any important consequences and she persists anyway, in spite of the strangeness and futility of it.

I tried to comment on one of your notes but it didn't post.

elbisivni said...

You could try again or mail me your comment on whichever note it was? Or tell me here. Or facebook/tweet me. Gosh. There are just so many mediums of social networking! :O Plus am curious now.

. .but again, why would someone persist inspite of knowing that their actions won't have ANY kind of consequences-positive OR negtive? Strange.

Arjun Rajkhowa said...

Lol. Oh, it was just that I liked your last post, which I found very personal, and sad and optimistic at the same time!

elbisivni said...

I tend to write personal thoughts here, on this blog. It's sort of a secret from my social circle. They get to read the other blogs!
Thank you, though. I felt exactly the same way.
I like your blog. I like poetry. I like poetry that you've written on your blog.