‘Check your Whatsapp. Tumhe us pagal ka video bheja hai. UNBLURRED,’ screamed Bubbly aunty into the phone, and I knew I had a few unpleasant moments of conversation ahead. Beside the uncomforting feeling that her use of the term ‘pagal’ gave, it was troublesome at several other levels. This was the fourth time that day that someone had forwarded me the video of a hapless young man getting mauled by an equally hapless tiger in the Delhi zoo.Many of you would get upset with me for talking in a sympathetic tone for either the young man, or the tiger, or both. Countless people have already posthumously chided the guy who died a most traumatic death, by calling him an idiot and wondering why he jumped into the tiger’s moat in the first place. It’s undoubtedly the first reaction that comes to mind, that of anger and frustration on why he took such a risk.
The more knowledgeable ones among us also have information handy, of past instances of young boys, of various ages and in several other zoos, doing the ‘stupid dare’ of jumping into the tiger’s cage and getting injured or killed in the process. It does sound idiotic, doesn’t it? Perhaps, the one minor detail that this man was undergoing psychiatric treatment for a possible mental ailment for the past year or so, escaped a lot of us. So, did the simple fact that when a person is mentally unwell, the very logical questions of ‘why did he have to jump in front of the tiger?’ become as redundant or meaningless as asking ‘but why did the cancer patient have to die of cancer? Was he an idiot?’
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The general lack of sensitivity towards people with mental health issues in our country is appalling. Apart from a spectacular display of ignorance with the use of expressions such as ‘pagal, bewakoof or retarded’, we’re also happy sermonising, that too, by using every possible illogical argument. ‘You are saying woh mentally disturbed tha. Newspaper says his wife was seven months pregnant. Bachcha paida karne ki samajh hai usme, yeh nahi ki tiger ke aage nahi jaana,’ is the gem Bubbly aunty threw my way, when I tried, quite unsuccessfully, to tell her to not judge a victim. I don’t know the facts enough to comment on this particular case, but my only point is, if we are going to judge by the same yardstick — someone who’s helpless because his brain is not transmitting the right signals, and someone who foolishly decides to risk his life to show-off in front of friends (this guy, by the way, was all by himself in the zoo), then there are two idiots in this whole argument. Can you guess which two?
On that subject, here’s another grouse. Vaise toh hum jo dekhna chahein woh hamaari marzi hai, but since my mandate is to talk of calmness, at least I can tell you about what surely would take THAT away. This whole tendency of watching, and forwarding really disturbing videos of people getting mauled, killed, beheaded, etc may be indicative of how advanced social media and our hold over it has become, but I hope we realise what it does to our peace of mind. Everyone, and everyone without an exception, who has watched the video of the tiger killing the man, has reacted by saying, ‘It’s soooo disturbing.’ And then most of them ended up forwarding this ‘so disturbing’ feeling to people they call their ‘friends and loved ones’. Yeah, yeah, I know some of you are getting ready to tell me ki aisi cheezon se awareness badti hai.
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Awareness badhaani thi toh in the time that you spent shuddering and cringing while seeing the gory video, utni der mein us bande ki mental health situation ke baare mein hi padh lete. Anyway, there is so much gore and violence around us by way of films, reality TV, cleavage-baring outfits, saas-bahu serials, why make your lives miserable by insisting to watch videos of bload-soaked dead bodies or beheaded corpses. And also, resist the urge to forward everything blindly in a Whatsapp group, since the capacity to digest disturbing or graphic visual content varies greatly between people. If forwarding is the new bug that has bitten you, there are thousands of sites that offer clean, funny, creative and inspirational videos or photos to share with friends. You just need to search them. Thodi mehnat karlo, raat ko neend achhi aayegi.
Sonal Kalra just shared a video of an Anaconda snake gobbling up a girl in Egypt. So disturbing and cool nah? If you want a link, mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at facebook.com/sonalkalra13.Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/sonalkalra