The era of silent movies faded away long ago. Now, another art of silent characters is fighting a losing battle. Puppetry, which was once a regular feature of street shows and carnivals, is a withering flower. The puppets attired in vibrant hues presented a life full of colour and splendour. The ebb and flow of the music soaked the puppet in high-voltage energy, while the rhythmic beats matched pace with our heartbeat.
Frenzied, as though infused with life, the puppet bounced, acquiring a human form, and the show revved up. It darted hither and thither, its waist seesawed, reminding us of the balancing act we perennially strive to achieve with the ups and downs in life.
Yanked by the strings, we dance to the cacophony of life. All of us feel the jerk when boundaries, stereotypes, fears, societal norms and demands desist us from exploring the beyond. Society, an assemblage witnessing the drama, smirks inwardly and sneers at us, finding pleasure in our ordeal. But we silently suffer without batting an eyelid. We push, pull and shove and still find ourselves stuck in the bog of immovable reality of our existence.
The other day, while I was being driven to Chandigarh's biggest mall, I saw a horse cart controlled by a man, pulling the reins with one hand and menacingly brandishing a whip in the other. He lashed the horse and my heart split. The scene evoked horror and pity in me, even as the horse picked up speed. The mute animal endured like a puppet pulled at the strings, capitulating to its needs, fears and merciful existence.
The cart-wheel started rolling lickety-split and the revolving wheel reminded me of the norms, the unchangeable patterns and the dominating thought process around which the entire society revolves and then dictates how men should be men and women should be women. A woman does not have a heart if she does not cry her eyes out and a slight display of liquid emotions in a man's eye is termed unmanly. Lavish spending is indispensable to a wedding. Bosses will always be bosses. If blue is for a boy, then it is a common favourite of all.
The art of puppetry may be dying, but the custom of silent presence is omnipresent; we give in to our fears, limited beliefs and superficial demands for a peaceful existence in society. Everybody is chanting freedom and space and wants to break free with no strings attached.
"I am not a puppet," I affirm to myself. But society…