Accept it or not openly, we do have lines to demarcate those ‘others' who think and behave and live differently from us .
Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about how the terrific power cuts in Tamil Nadu are going to bring down Karunanidhi. This is the middle class talking.
Yesterday, in my class I heard echoes of what the ‘poorer class’ is talking through their children. Obviously the children echo what their parents say. This was part of an idea suggested by Swarna to get children to voice their own thoughts.. something they are not encouraged to do. After holidays, we moved on to ‘politics.’
‘Karunanidhi has given 1 kg rice at 1 Re.’
‘Karunanidhi has given us a gas stove.’
‘He has given each family a TV.’
‘The chief minister is doing so much for the people.’
Another 'across the line' experience was this morning, when I met Jaipunissa.
Jaipunissa used to be a cheerful, energetic, never-say-die girl who dressed to kill everyday when she came to work in the small factory I used to run long long ago. We had a batch of Muslim girls who vied with each other in colourful dressing.
She was already nearing 30 when she left, to marry a 70+ man to secure her future. When he died a few years later, he did leave her a little house and some money. His sons took away the house after some litigation.
Now, after leading a life in relative comfort, she can't bear the thought of going back to work and exists on whatever she has.
But the major change was the black-cover-all burkha she was wearing. I could just about see her eyes, dispirited, sad, tired.
But truly, with just two inches of face showing, it is really difficult to connect to a person.