Sunday, 16 October 2016

Something is wrong somewhere

Yesterday my paternal grandmother came to me clutching Chetan Bhagat’s “Two States” in her hands and asked me how I felt about the author. I said he is a very famous author in India but I personally am not a big fan. She then went inside her room and didn’t come out till late evening. At the dinner table, she told me she loved the book. She loved Chetan’s simple writing. It helped her understand some words of English that she had never known so far. She said she would like me to get her more Chetan Bhagat’s books. I bought her all of them.

I am sure readers who are reading this have already judged my grandmother as a mediocre because she enjoys Chetan Bhagat and the likes in Indian writing. But I can’t. She is one of those in my life who influenced me into reading good books. She has a reading career spanning entire Marathi Literature – classics and contemporary and if she starts a literary argument with someone, she has all the odds of winning. That’s the kind of knowledge she has about reading. She has trouble reading English literature, so I definitely couldn’t have recommended her a Kafka or a Shakespeare. (I am not a great fan of Shakespeare but I do love Kafka’s writing). I had tried suggesting her Amitav Ghosh and Arundhati Roy in the past. She did try reading them and found them slightly cluttered with large sentences making it difficult for her to catch up. (I love BOTH).

If you notice, I am trying to make a point here. I see Chetan Bhagat/Durjoy Dutta haters crying foul over the way they write and questioning the abilities of their readers. Every alternative post that I have seen since the release of “One Indian Girl” is a shame post comparing Chetan Bhagat to cruelest of things. I am wondering for a while now, whatever happened to CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM. Why do we have to bash a person up just because he wrote something we didn’t like? Why do we have to judge someone ONLY on the basis of the reading choices they make? Everyone is entitled to have an opinion about everything. Everyone is entitled to express it publicly. We call it freedom. And unfortunately we remember only till here. They call it selective acknowledgement or memory or something of that sort. We forget we are responsible for our expressions as well. There is nothing wrong in expressions, but whatever happened to being responsible while doing that? Why do we have to criticize each and every thing that doesn’t match our choice? Who decides who is a better reader? Who decides who is a better human being? On what grounds are these comparisons being made? Virginia Woolf decided that she didn’t like Aldous Huxley because she found the writing “All raw, uncooked, and protesting.” But Aldous Huxley is still read and adored by many who like it all raw and uncooked and protesting. And no one judges this reading base. I read a few comments on some social networking sites blaming Chetan Bhagat for writing about sex unabashedly. Let me tell you I was introduced to sex in books by Sidney Sheldon and yet, Mr. Sheldon has a fan base as well as critics.   

When you bash a person up it shows who you are than who the person is. Every writer has a way of writing. Every reader has a different perception about different things. Not everyone is going to read everything because we have choices. Books have taught me to be open to ideas and opinions. They have taught me subtlety. Criticism is good if it is going to make a good change. The critics we see today look like they derive some sadistic pleasure by putting someone down and whacking them with hurtful words and statements, till they are satisfied with themselves. And when it’s still not enough they go ahead and whack the people who support them. Even those who are neutral and want to spread peace are not pardoned in this hate crusade. I am sure people are going to pounce on me for writing this piece but again as I said it shows more about them and not about me.

Just a humble request to everyone out there – encourage people because we do not know who is what, has come from what background, with what past or present. Laughing at someone for making mistakes is not a sign of being human. Monkeys laugh without giving a second thought. It is cruel. It is dangerous. Writing hurtful things about others who haven’t harmed you in any way, is shameful. Be kind to people even if you do not agree with their opinions. Remember there will always be someone who wouldn’t agree with yours. Would you like them to treat you the way you are treating someone else? 

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