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the ravings of a bored teenager

Freedom & Democracy

The worst thing that can happen in a democracy – as well as in an individual’s life – is to become cynical about the future and lose hope.
-Hillary Clinton


 

Happy Republic Day, everyone! Oh, and happy Australia Day too, I guess.

First off, this has been in my draft box since the 19th, so you know I didn’t get anything done. But I would like my blog to be an accurate representation of who I am. That is to say, doing everything the day before. Also, not following a schedule… I was supposed to have, what, four blog posts out by the end of this month, but what the heck, this is a free country.

This is India’s first, second, third, fourth… sixty-eighth RD. (Another aspect of me… laziness.) In case some of you didn’t know, and I hope you all do, the Constitution came into force on the 26th of Jan 1950, and that is what Republic Day is celebrated for. In contrast, Australia Day (which has probably rolled around by the time of this posting) is celebrated for the landing of the British fleet in Port Jackson way back in 1788. To the credit of the Aussies, though, they are trying t change their national Day. This year is going to be more of the spectacular same for Indians, as neighbourhoods around the country and a few outside it will raise the Indian flag while some schools will drag children out of their warm beds for celebrations in school. There will also be a huge parade in Rajpath in New Delhi, with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi as Chief Guest… and a celebration of dates or something. Don’t ask me why we are celebrating the UAE on India’s Republic Day. Expect another speech from PM Modi. There is an NSG debut at Rajpath, along with shows from the Air Force and the Navy. But that doesn’t matter.

What are my plans for the 26th, you ask? First, I will set an alarm for 7:15 am, before snoozing it six times and waking up at 7:45. I would then wear some kurta and jeans, because my pajamas invariably rip under uncomfortable conditions. I’d brush my teeth halfway through this before picking up my bag and watching ten minutes of the Australian Open. Then my mom’s alarm, named ‘KICK THE KIDS OUT‘, would ring, and my mom would kick me out. I’ll grab a bottle of water and some money before running out of the door.

Basically, nothing except the clothes I will wear will be different from my daily morning schedule.

But enough about me, let’s talk more about freedom and democracy.

Democracy is a Greek concept, as almost everything is. It literally means ‘rule of the commoners’, so there, you high-and-mighties (I’m not even kidding. Demokratia is the antonym to aristokratia– rule of the elite). It is, as every schoolboy knows, ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’, and constitutes of legal equality, political freedom and the rule of law, along with Larry Diamond’s four pillars. That is what a democracy-following country runs on/over- the people.

Freedom, apart from being a house in our school, expresses free will. I don’t think I need to talk about freedom too much- that is what political campaigning is for.  Anyway, here is a quote by that genius Thomas Hobbes that will make minds go numb- “a free man is he that in those things which by his strength and wit he is able to do is not hindered to do what he hath the will to do.” Yeah, read that three more times, no one will judge you. Then, once again, is the Greek ideal of liberty- not being ‘owned by a master’, according to the word origins on Dictionary.com.

I tell you, those Greeks are hardcore to produce stuff like 99% of the dictionary, Percy Jackson, Aristotle, moussaka and financial crises.

Anyway, this is quickly becoming a history lecture, so no more about that. Back to me! In school, we are going to watch the teachers take on, and hopefully humiliate, the school team. Why such pro-institutional thoughts? Why, because a loss on part of the younger team gives me a handful of faces in which I can rub it in. After school, I’m going to come home, and hopefully skip that boring sermon that is going to take place next door in the park. I’ll try to catch the Federer-Wawrinka match (#GOFEDERER) before falling on my bed and going to sleep.

Hey, it isn’t a vacation unless half the day is spent asleep.

 


 

So that’s all for now, folks. Expect another post, optimistically, by the start of February, or more realistically, by Valentine’s Day. Thanks to everyone for reading, and thanks for commenting and appreciating A Litany In All Things Innocent. I’m glad all of you liked what I wrote- +100 reads already! That being said, don’t think I can’t take criticism. Pretty much the only criticism I got was from mom, and everyone knows I don’t take her seriously.

I’d better get back to those organic chem questions, aka hell-in-life. Kartikay signing off!

 

 

A Litany In All Things Innocent

“Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”


The world of literature and civil rights lost a woman worth saving in the February of the turbulent year gone past. A woman who dissected the civil rights race of the 60s in a segregated USA while viewing a dangerous world from the innocent eyes of a child, appealing to the child within us all. A woman who defined the strongest parent-child relationship in literature, setting idealistic standards for parents, lawyers and good people at it, burrowing its path through human behaviour. A woman who produced a Pulitzer-worthy depiction of the race-frenzied American South of the  1930s more than fifty years ago, and did as much for the civil rights movement as the movement did for millions around.

I read her book and completed it in the tiny hours of the morning on the 11th of January, and received a message that should not be received at the end of a wrenching read in complete exhaustion.

This is to Harper Lee- a novelist, an activist, a person worthy of envy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and a woman with a pen for every shade.

I’ve never cried to a book, a movie, a song, anything. Maybe I’m tough to get at. Those finishing paragraphs of Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, though… whether it was the total legend Atticus Finch was depicted as, or the hero his son Jem was made out to be, or the heart-shredding interaction between Arthur ‘Boo’ Radley, or the fact that the ever-optimistic Dill Harris never received a fitting goodbye from us readers, maybe even the unsatisfactory end of the despicable Bob Ewell falling on a sharp culinary instrument, Lee was able to establish so many emotions at once for her characters it was hard to continue reading.

To Kill A Mockingbird is heavy, heavy literature- though, as Harper Lee said, for her it was always simple story of basic romance.

Jean Louise Finch, or Scout to her nearest, is the narrator of a story that has its characters embody the darkest- and the brightest- aspects of the human constitution. Scout is six at the beginning of the story- nowhere near the age most people figure out humans have more dimensions than just the black or the white. To Scout, people were either friends or not- Atticus, Dill, Jem and Calpurnia who fell soundly in that arena, against the likes of Aunt Alexandra, who undoubtedly had the best of interests but was thoroughly disliked by Scout, and Bob Ewell- the cruelest scum of the earth one is ever to meet. Scout inherits a world-view not from her father, but from the town around her- quick to judge, leaning toward prejudice. Then there is Jeremy ‘Jem’ Finch- Scout’s elder by four years, with a deep dark spot he visits whenever he hears (or thinks) of his now-dead mother. Jem is an American football fanatic, with dreams to play and a seemingly endless line of magazines. Jem plays Scout’s solace when it comes to school- and a second parent of sorts before he delves into flash furies and teen angst. Charles Baker Harris, better known as the lovable Dill, becomes an instant favourite for me, at least, as he becomes the creative jet behind the trio’s various role-plays, Jem’s guy-buddy, and Scout’s best friend, proposing to her in the first summer he visits Maycomb. And then there is Atticus.

Ah, Atticus. You just had to go and do that stuff in the prequel/sequel.

Around the time I began reading this masterpiece in the English language, my mom told me it had the best parent-child relationship she had ever read. I replied the best I read was Tyrion-Tywin, and let’s say that that relationship ended not well. And guess what? My mom was right.

Atticus Finch, that great man, displayed the parent every child wants- understanding, patient, a man who could look at any situation from the eyes of everyone part of the equation, and then some more. He also exhibited what the justice system is supposed to be- fair, just, smart, a clean chit for every case, someone who held zero grudges. And that isn’t what makes him a special person- it is the fact that he had only one face. As Miss Maudie, an aesthetic gardener and neighbor of the Finches put it- “Atticus Finch is the same in his house as he is on the public streets.”

And, darn it, that lawyerin’.

I’m not even going to say anything about his absolute brilliance the man showed in the courtroom in the face of an impossible-to-avoid verdict. The story being in the 1930s, there is no way a black man charged with rape could have avoided the chair even if he had an air-tight alibi. But the man got the jury thinking- and that in itself is a work made of miracles.

And then there’s the perpetually ambiguous Boo Radley- one of the two mockingbirds in the story. A source of fear but more importantly intrigue to the trio, Boo Radley had always been shrouded in mystery for the younger generation. The Radley Place was the scariest place in their neighbourhood, which was for them essentially their entire world. And can I just mention, that “Hey, Boo” by Scout when she recognizes the pale-as-death man broke my heart was the best introduction I have ever read.

Now, why was Boo Radley the mockingbird? Miss Maudie defines the mockingbird as being someone who does everything they do for the good of others without any return, nor any wish for something returned, and therefore it being a sin to kill them. Boo Radley was a mockingbird through and through. The whole book was him being nice to the kids, leading from gum in the tree to Jem’s sewn up pants to the innocuous blanket over Scout. Now, it is taken in most places that the public killed Boo’s innocence, through some nasty rumors. Yeah, for sure. then there is the highly probable theory that his innocence was killed when he *SPOILER* killed Bob Ewell through aid of his top-of-the-grade night vision. Makes sense, it does. The switchblade Mr. Heck Tate the sheriff brandishes belongs to Bob Ewell, and the kitchen knife was the property of a Mr. Nathan Radley. But then there’s the winding discussion between Tate, who says that he fell on his knife in an attempt to draw the blame away from Boo, a hero, an improbable hero- a feeling reciprocated by Atticus, who acts like he thinks Jem did it (Jem, his son, who was unconscious due to a broken arm. Come on, man, you are a lawyer. No one’s gonna believe that.)

All evidence points to poor Boo, whose only reason for being in the Finch house was to go through the aftermath of his murder. And there is Scout, who thinks her brother is dead, who understands none of what is happening because she was made the target of a bitter drunkard and thinks her brother is dead. No shame, my heart tore again.

And then there is, of course, Tom Robinson, the Negro with whom this whole extravagant chain of events I could drone on about began. But more on the poor man and the stuff related to him in another post.




Harper Lee, I tell you, is a genius. GREATEST. BOOK. I. HAVE. EVER. READ. HANDS. TIED. FEET. CUT.

Well, that was my first blog post, and I really can write more. Every so often I will write more, because… ⇑⇑⇑⇑⇑⇑⇑⇑⇑⇑⇑⇑. That was just an introduction. Stay tuned for much more than whatever that was.

Yeah, I made  my first post an outlet for all my feels. This is Kartikay Dutta, signing off, because my hands are frozen. Bye!

 

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