‘Ab Nukkad Kispe Ho?’

There is no dearth of social issues to harp on. Blog posts are probably passé; street plays are the *in* thing. Every college has a dramatics society which eventually lays claim to the nukkad and the common man. My university is no different.

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Dutifully links to the university website’s page for the drama festival. This, here, is my senior.

As preparation for a national drama festival here at KIIT is inching towards crescendo, my theatre group’s script for the nukkad natak, or street play, went through gashes of blue ink and black as my seniors leave switched on the midnight bulb and play god to a better script with greater clarity and a harder hitting message.

It is interesting how it began as the story of a parrot and his lady, and then doubled its pace, only to ask the audience: Ab kispe nukkad ho?

It is rather easy to sit with one flaw in our societal fabric in mind and churn emotional and linguistically gobsmacking dialogues. It is easy to win the judges’ points, because by now you probably know what they look for in a good performance. As you walk towards the clearing in middle of the public to perform, as is wont in street play performances, you take a deep breath. You slip your mask on, go all out and roar your lines out in the open air, as if challenging the very evils you slay in your play. An enchanted, enraptured audience and an enchanted judge later (if you’ve been that good), you settle down with a beaming face.

You might just start gearing for yet another drama fest.

Why?

Street plays started out as means to awaken them who slumber in the face of injustice, fear, callousness. They are tools to set in motion a clear, ringing call to arising, a ringing call to a stand and a ringing call to think and a ringing call for action.

But for how long? It is both true and sad that the penultimate nail in the coffin proved to be a happenstance in a bus at night; a young girl and her friend were fiendishly abused and left half naked to die. Police authorities squabbled over jurisdiction on the case, while passing men and women maintained a calculated callousness towards the two undead victims of our hypocrisy.

And just like that, the nation was enraged before one party could point fingers at another. Debate and candle light marches and political agenda followed (very late). This was a minefield of concerns that the Pandora’s Box cuddled:

‘The government doesn’t care…’

 ‘our women aren’t safe, our men aren’t safe!’

 ‘Our women cannot dress or move about freely…’

‘the government is full of male chauvinist pigs.’

‘rapists should be hanged!’

‘Where are the fast track courts? They have been upto no good.’

‘The government simply doesn’t care’.

The political machinery is responsible for matters in India today to some extent. We, the people are responsible for the vermin we live in today. What felt more outrageous: that, that the minor rapist got away, or that the Nirbhaya episode was followed by at least five more documented cases of rape?

We, the people frantically look for solutions and send our women into shelter, under cover. In a democracy, like many have pointed out for long, a matter of an individual’s life or death cannot be based on emotion alone. The legal system demands reliable proof of a crime. There are punishments for crimes of every severity; I too, like many, feel that even a life sentence falls way short of justice, but will making these rapists suffer till death for their condemnable actions make the country safer?

Once these four men die, will all rapes disappear?

Rapes are an act of impulse. A dirty, lecherous, savage, unforgivable impulse that many people have given into and ruined people, literally. Death to a few is a superficial manner of dealing with the lives of the many women in our lives and others’, in the land that once worshipped her as divinity.

Unless we, the people decide to change how we think, our mothers and sisters and wives and girlfriends and neighbours and maids and daughters will have a good chance of getting raped all the while you cocoon yourself into thinking that such a thing could not happen to you.

Daughters are told to cover up and dress *decently*. They are expected to come back home as early as possible. They are asked to ignore lewd passes made at them while they walk back home wearing a skirt. Girlfriends and wives are asked to ‘chill’ and not pay attention to a lowly autowallah. It is a waste of time. Why don’t our parents instruct their sons to respect the women in their lives in the first place? Why don’t they instil in them a sense of responsibility towards both the sexes? Why don’t parents teach their children to stand up for what they think is right?

I am a daughter and I am often appalled by the blinding contrast in attitudes in a place like Delhi wherenn

the Slut Walk was supposed to be a message, nay declaration of women’s right to wear what they want, a declaration that rightfully pushed the blame onto the perpetrator, and the number of girls in Delhi I know whose parents turn down their noses at spaghetti tops and shorts and such.

Unless we accept our folly and our role in the problems we face as a nation, nothing shall change. Not the rapes or murders or burglaries. Nothing, unless we claim our share of belongingness to this place we stay in. Towards our own people.

I will be enacting that street play with friends at the end of this month. Right now, I am writing this post to shout out to anyone reading my blog that I am not one of them. Those-Who-Choose-Silence-over-Action people. A lot of people will watch the nukkad natak, some will read this post. Will it make a difference?

I know it will.

A German pastor around the Second World War, Martin Niemoller put it succinctly in words:

When Hitler attacked the Jews, I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. When he attacked the Catholics, I was not a catholic. Then they came for the communists, I did not speak out as I was not a communist. When they came for me, there was nobody left to speak for me.

PS- ‘Ab nukkad kispe ho?’  in Hindi roughly translates into ‘What do we enact in a street play now?’

Also read: I changed my Facebook DP because-

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2 thoughts on “‘Ab Nukkad Kispe Ho?’

  1. nukkad nataks have lost that impact they used to have once upon a time. They are about the same old issues since past 20-30 years. patriarchy,cast bias, corruption,rape ,eunuchs, dowry…. being few very popular topics which still rule. I know people may say that reality hasn’t changed then and nukkads are mirrors of reality. But there are so many different issues on which nukkads can really focus like problems of youth,relationship issues, of deciding what to do in life, about how we have grown up so quickly and matured so fast that we have forgotten those days when before spending time under the banyan tree we had no need to see if we had time enough?about how important it’s to be successful in life and how society has snatched those free moments from us when we could fail and still emerge winners. Reality has many dimensions and by over focusing on socio-political realities we tend to ignore realities which are perhaps equally real to us if not more.

    • Dude, that did not strike me. Beyond issues that burn the *masses* and the television, there are things that don’t fall under breaking news.
      I feel sad now, that nukkad naataks are being boxed under social issues and awareness. Have we stopped experimenting entirely? I’m not sure the answer is a staid yes.
      Maybe techniques, maybe the reach. Maybe not everyone is doing the same old things.
      I agree man, the issues you list are equally in want of attention, though it is not like they aren’t addressed by plays.
      One atomic reason why socio-political issues end up being focussed on is probably also because at some point, someone decided to use it as a form of mass mobilization. The trend has caught on. But let’s hope that it not be the death of this form of expression.

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