February 14

All my Valentine’s Days till date have been forgettable. On most days I don’t believe in love, unless it is directed towards the sun or ramen noodles. Last year was a little out of the ordinary. I didn’t have class that day so came out of my dorm room in the afternoon to participate in a Narrative Comprehension study (great way to earn cash when living a student life). Usually the kids in the college were an uncommunicative, anti-social lot but this time I sort of got talking to the guy conducting the study. He told me about an open secret of the Uni; a wooden bench located over an air vent in the quad. And how he could spend days on that bench, even in the snow. Minutes later I was sitting on the warm bench, enjoying the oasis of warmth in the midst of a desert of cold, and that fleeting connection between two human beings. I didn’t sit on that bench again. In the following months, I didn’t see him sitting on that bench either.

Many weeks ago, I came across a Twitter challenge asking the Uni alums/students to write an ultra-short story about the Uni. Up till then, I was blissfully unaware of Hemingway’s six word story- “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” I wrote one about that afternoon– Rosenwald’s warm bench brought them closer. I hope you have had far more rewarding February 14ths.

More six word stories can be found here and here.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

The worst way I can insult anyone is to be disappointed by them. Anger fades over time, frustration fizzles away, can’t care enough to hate and can’t care less to be indifferent. But disappointment, it stays, it is irredeemable. Mistakes can be forgiven, regrets can be fixed but nothing can be done to displace disappointment if it takes root in my being. I’m writing this post because I have been disappointed, by an institution that I believed in, one I thought would always do the right thing.

Two days ago, the Supreme Court of India pronounced its judgment on the fate of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, the one that criminalises homosexuality. It reversed the 2009 decision of the High Court of Delhi to hold that 377 is constitutional. There are many things wrong with this reasoning, be it from the moral or legal or philosophical or whatever standpoint. It is a blow to the idea of India, to all Indians, gay or straight, and to every single person out there who cares about justice and equality. Because what is wrong, remains wrong, no matter how many people say otherwise. It is a shame for a court that prides itself on the role it has played in expanding the scope of human rights in India. An act of cowardice.

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.

I was in Washington, DC on March 25 & 26– the days when the US Supreme Court was hearing the arguments in the DOMA and Prop 8 cases. I remember walking up to the hill to come across the colourful demonstration on the street in front of the SC building. So many people– young, old, gay, straight, white, brown, black, yellow– a rainbow of opinions. I must have stayed there for hours, soaking up the passion and pride, watching history being made, feeling part of something much, much bigger than myself. I remember feeling hopeful, that the US Supreme Court would usher in a new era of human rights jurisprudence, and that the Indian Supreme Court would follow suit in a few months’ time. Like the cherry blossoms that I did not get to see that spring, this is another wish that didn’t come true.

For a nuanced analysis of this decision and its implications, see–

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/12/12/carnal-injustice-india-s-outrageous-court-ruling-against-gays.html

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/opinion/edit-page/A-queer-judgment/articleshow/27227195.cms

http://kafila.org/2013/12/12/we-dissent-siddharth-narrain/

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.
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