A friend Whatsapps me yesterday on a group asking “What’s this new shame?”

What shame?

I don’t watch much of these idiotic news channels anyway. But apparently the video of the man was looping across all national news channels ad nauseam. Oh, why? Because this is the degeneration of our civilization, the absolute death of humanity, the nadir of our collective conscience, the failure of a state. And if you are sickular, the real “hell”. Insaniyat ka balaatkaar (if you are brave enough to use the word).

Well, where were you all this while? Were you insulated enough to think that every poor soul in this country has a ready vehicle at his/her disposal to carry dead bodies? Did you think every little dispensary, community health center of this country is equipped with a van to carry dead people?

It only needlessly shows my state Odisha in poor light. Okay, the state is poor and Kalahandi is a particularly poorer place. But it’s not as if the rest of the country is bathing in milk. It’s not as if in the rest of the country, people have a very dignified death. This over-the-top ranting seems to emanate from people who either don’t know India’s realities or just wish to create some noise.

I too feel for the man. But I feel no shame. Simply because this isn’t anything new. You are not ashamed of something that happens to you everyday, do you? If you are ashamed today, either you have no clue or you are only a headline grabber.

I am not against the very justified uproar. It has certainly served to wake up some, and put this very specific plight in limelight. But please, it has to be seen the correct perspective. If you are aware of the basic conditions of the country, you would have already known that for the poor in this country, carrying out the last rites is always a challenge, starting with the dead body. And whether you blame the system, whether you call it a death of humanity, millions in this country would continue to be burdened with their dead. And no matter how hoarse you cry, a government can’t immediately fix anything. Because being poor is not just about eating less, or wearing less. It extends to all spheres of living. And dying.

True, the visuals are shocking. But the images that you have been fed on are also stage-managed. The man didn’t ask your sympathy. He probably didn’t ask for any help. It wasn’t as melodramatic as you are led to believe, with sad tunes playing in the background, their faces in slow motion.

So exactly is this new shame? That a man chose to carry the dead body of his wife instead of waiting for help? What if he sat and wailed like many would have done? Would anyone have made noise? Why not? Had the real issue been much different? No.

He just chose to be different. Here is a man from Odisha, who had the guts to walk for so long with a dead body. If you say he didn’t have a choice, I don’t agree. Not many have done what he attempted to do. But poor soul. He also suddenly killed the humanity for many.

No, you don’t have to crocodile-cry about the state of affairs in Odisha. We aren’t doing great, but we don’t live shamefully either.  Let me tell you something. I am absolutely apolitical and have no allegiance to the ruling party in Odisha. But here is the state government, not withstanding it’s thousand shortcomings, that had already initiated (announced in February this year) the “Mahaprayan” scheme, to provide vehicle to all major hospitals of the state to carry the dead. This would soon be extended to even smaller community centres.

I ask, how many states have done that?

But this isn’t shameful enough to show on TV, right?

 

(Note: I had written the draft of this article much before the media revealed that the man didn’t ask for any help from anyone. Also I purposefully didn’t put any pictures on this post.)

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