I absolutely love this time of the year. It’s when you get to put work aside and make time for the things that really matter, like reading texts that go “NEW YRZZZ DOUCHEBAG-AND-VOMIT THEMED BASH! AT SWEATY COMMODE CLUB WIT DJ DIDDY SNOOP AKA RAJU! UNLIMITED BOOZE AND OSHIWARA REJECTS! PASSES @ Rs. BLACK-MARKET-KIDNEY ONLY! FISTFIGHTS AND STDs FREE!”
That aside, I also get to reflect on the year gone by, and present to you its biggest, weirdest and most bile-inducing newsmakers. (Spoiler alert: Politicians feature in here. A lot.)
One of my favourite stories is the one about the BJP MLAs caught watching porn in the Karnataka and Gujarat state assemblies. In their defence, senior BJP leader and the current Goa CM, Manohar Parrikar was quoted as saying, “At least they were only watching it and not doing it.” That makes sense. I don’t really see a huge market for BJP-themed erotica, not unless they call it Fifty Shades of Saffron. And as far as the Congress is concerned, there’s no such thing as smut – there’s only Rajiv Gandhi Akhil Bharatiya Hormone Vikas Yojana.
This was also the year Mamata Banerjee made significant strides in the field of Slowly Going Insane And Losing The Plot. Her TMC railway minister was sacked for proposing a much-needed fare hike, a Jadavpur University professor was assaulted and arrested for circulating “defamatory” cartoons of Didi, and the Park Street rape case was brushed off as a “political conspiracy.” Mamata is a woman who just needs to be hugged, ideally by a straitjacket.
Speaking of cartoonists, Aseem Trivedi made quite a splash this year. He was slapped with a sedition charge for his cartoon that depicted the Parliament as a toilet. The comparison was unfair, because no matter how dirty a toilet is, it can always be cleaned.
Aseem’s case was just one of many that highlighted the government’s policy towards free speech and online censorship. There was also Shaheen Dhada, who was arrested and harassed for a Facebook post criticising the shutdown of Bombay following the death of He Who Must Not Be Named. It’s weird how the party that wants locals to work more is also the party skilled at shutting down the city, forcing them to sit at home. Following threats, Shaheen and her family had to flee to Surat. Because clearly, when you want to stay away from right-wing fanatics, Gujarat is the place to be.
The centre’s approach towards free speech has been dracon- HAHA, IGNORE ME I WAS JUST KIDDING THE GOVERNMENT IS AMAZING. IN SIBAL WE TRUST. DEEP BENEATH THOSE AMAZONIAN EYEBROWS IS A MAN WHO TRULY WANTS THE BEST FOR CONGRESS US. THIS COLUMN HAS IN NO WAY BEEN TAMPERED WITH. GOOD NIGHT AND KISS TO DEMOCRACY.
2012 will also be remembered as the year Sachin Tendulkar announced his retirement from ODIs. You could see this coming. He’d already taken up the Rajya Sabha offer, which, on the ‘I Am Now Ready To Be Useless’ scale is one step away from hawking Sandhi Sudha. Sachin has done more for the popularity of Marathi than any political party. Every Indian is now familiar with his catchphrases, ‘Aila!’, ‘Aai-guh’ and ‘Aey Vinod, chala gaadi park kara c*****!’
In other sports news, our athletes won six Olympic medals in London, which is six more than the Centre expected them to win. The government honoured the athletes’ grit and determination by reinstating Suresh Kalmadi as Chairman of the IOA. This is like going off to fight at Kargil and returning to find that your mom has married Musharraf, and there’s karela for dinner.
And in this way, 2012 kept moving from idiot to idiot, from the ordinary to the frivolous, just like any other year, until two weeks ago, when a girl got on a bus to go home, and everything went horribly wrong.
I’m sorry, but at this point, I’m going to stop with the jokes and talk about Amanat. The news of her death came in at the time of writing, and I address it here not because I think my words will make a difference, but simply as a way of trying to comprehend the insanity of it all.
It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to shut out the world, curl up in a foetal position and drink yourself senseless, but that won’t do. Not after that one girl showed more courage and resolve than the entire collective leadership of the world’s largest democracy. Not after she made a goddess-worshipping nation confront the horrors that have been, and are being inflicted on its women, day after day, year after year. Not after we failed ourselves, as a society, as a nation and as human beings. No, that won’t do.
I don’t have a solution, but I’m looking for better minds that do. If you know of such people and endeavours –bereft of myopic hysteria – that could use some help, please do let me know here. And on that sombre note, I wish that the coming year brings us hope and sanity. We’re all going to need it.