My father is the sort of man that art movies in the eighties were made about. He won’t qualify as a subject, he never went off kilter like the characters had to, but you can see the similarities.
Talented man, bogged down by responsibilities of family and siblings, a victim of the corrupt system but insuppressibly aspirational. Each day, he will start with agony and vow to become corrupt and rich like his colleagues, each evening, he will come back lost and browbeaten by his own conscience.
He is a good man. Non- violent in action, though language can get sentimental and violent at times. The kind of man who cries out of emotion while watching a patriotic movie, listening to mere watan ke logon and upon entering the Jagannath temple.
People like him form the bedrock of a nation and the pillar of a democracy. People who are hardworking, ethical, religious but only to an extent and overtly patriotic.
He was never too political. All my life he has loathed politicians, like so many do. But not interested in serious political debate or issues. He was never too religious. Until very recently. I don’t think he has changed in any other way than thought and speech. Talks as if he loves certain politicians over others and uses the word Hindu a lot more in our debates.
He watches a lot of TV. Reads a lot less. One regional newspaper, may be. He is old. And sentimental. He feeds streetdogs and kids on his evening walks and distributes Ramdev products thinking he is doing good to the society. It took a long time but I guess I am also a little proud of his sustained simplicity and innocence.
The occasion for writing this post is his utterance that this country can be saved only by BJP, no one else will defend Hindus. I argued for half an hour about what Hinduism is, how Dalits and some tribals are a part of it and how they are being shortchanged etc etc. But somewhere in him, Hindus are in danger and need such saving that the party promises.
And, that is an alarming though process in him. If it is multiplied in many people like him, it is a dangerous trend. When the indifferent middle class middle path won’t pick up arms but is willing enough to pass on that responsibility to a militant group, war is only a matter of time. And, god forbid, if more men like him have changed their hearts, we are not too far from one.