Please acknowledge my unique talent. My sentiments do not go a week without getting hurt.
I’ve always cried hoarse that when it comes to being sentimental, or senti, or mental, there’s no one quite like me. But you all just smile and ignore it. Well, not anymore, because my sentiments now want their due. I claim to hold a record in sentiments that are the quickest in the world to get hurt. Sometimes even before knowing the cause. They are pretty experienced, you see. They were hurt the first time when I was born and heard the nurse at the hospital hesitatingly tell my dad, ‘Sir, ladki ho gayi. Chalo phir bhi badhai ho.’ Ouch. And they have stayed hurt ever since. By God’s grace and that of our countrymen, the occasions to feel and express the hurt have been aplenty. Had I lived in any other country, I would have had to make the effort of looking out for valid reasons to get upset. Here, thankfully, everything is a reason and every reason is valid.
I don’t know why some people raise a big objection to something as heart-tugging as hurt sentiments. Arrey, dil hai to dukhega nah? Mera toh dukh jaata hai, easily. Every other day, someone mad as a hatter goes ahead and writes a book, or does a painting, or makes a film, without caring for my sentiments. They don’t even think twice before assigning a religion to their characters. How utterly horrible to only care for money and not for the feelings of lakhs, including someone innocent like me, who believe in bhagwan jis of all religions. Bloody commercial minded people, I tell you. I still remember when I saw my first film. There was a guy who rapes and murders a girl. And chalo, rape and murder toh theek hai, but guess what, he had the same name as my first cousin. A typical Hindu name! Can you believe it? I went into such a depression. Finally, when I couldn’t appear for my term-end exams and wrote ‘hurt sentiments’ as the reason in the application, my teacher scolded me. ‘Are you crazy? It’s just a film. They are acting,’ she said. ‘How unsentimental,’ I thought.
Then I read some stupid award-winning book in which the antagonist, a dacoit, was a Muslim. Oh my God! My sentiments almost jumped off the terrace. I’m not Muslim myself but, you see, my best friend at that time was. I thought of asking the same teacher where I could lodge a complaint against the author, but she had been giving me dirty looks from the time of the film incident, so I kept the hurt within. For years, I have taken offence at every film, every book, every statement, but had no one to share my pain with.
Well, not anymore. Now I see that my other, equally emotional, brothers and sisters have also started coming out in the open with their protests. And apparently, they are powerful enough to make even governments ban films and authors. Yeh hui nah baat. Unity wins. The story of your movie may be based on Hindu or Muslim or Sikh or whatever terrorists, but how can you show them as Hindu or Muslim or Sikh? Give them numbers instead of names, call your villains A2 or B1 and make them wear identity-free dresses. Leave them clothes-less for all I care, but don’t you dare hurt sentiments. I’m ready to put aside the stress I face at workplace, the EMIs I have to pay, the corruption I have to deal with, the thought of not being safe on the roads, but there’s no way I can deal with the unbearable pain of seeing the character of a terrorist in your film belong to my religion. What face will I show to God when I see him in the temple this week, you sentiment hurters! Now that the governments have started listening to people like me, here are some clear demands, or else, I know some cheap and best effigy makers who also supply black paint and shoes ki mala.
1. Include ‘avoidance of sentimental hurt’ as a compulsory subject in the curriculum from class II onwards. What? There are already too many subjects? Arrey, remove science or math or some such useless thing from the syllabus. Who cares for trigonometry when eventually I have to be out on the roads burning effigies and demanding bans. Teach children how to ensure that their artwork never has the remotest connection to any community or religion. In fact, teach them not to pursue any art if they can’t manage to make it hurt-free. Who cares for the creativity crap anyway? It’s the sentiments that count.
2. Allocate the portfolio of hurt-sentiments to a cabinet-ranked minister. In the interest of fairness and impartiality, the ministry of hurt sentiments should employ only those who belong to a religion not found anywhere in India. I’ve heard of some communities in extreme north corner of the south pole where you may find the right people, as they don’t believe in religion, or clothes. Any cases of their sentiments getting hurt on dealing with us, may be presented before an international tribunal.
3. Institute degrees and awards for the stalwarts in this noble area of work. I know it sounds selfish but my sentiments should have at least fetched me a doctorate by now, considering I take equal offence at films and books depicting any religion in a bad light. I’m ready to base my thesis on coming up with an entirely new fictional religion, whose followers will exist only in books, films, theatre and artworks. They will bear no similarity or allegiance - in name, behaviour or appearance - to any religion or community in real life. To see Shah Rukh Khan or Ranbir Kapoor named as A1B2tutu may seem strange to you in the beginning, but you’ll get used to it. At least the sentiments won’t be hurt. Or haan, publicly punish parents who start naming their kids A1B2tutu after that. Otherwise, 20 years from now, a new community with hurt sentiments will be out raising slogans. Meri mehnat waste.
Sonal Kalra thinks there’ll be a mad rush of universities wanting to give her an honorary doctorate after this brilliant piece. She’s decided to accept all, as she can’t hurt sentiments.
Mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or at facebook.com/sonalkalra13.
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