Kulbir Kaur | The Undoubted Benefits of Being a Sneaky Basenji

Those who dare to question powers were previously labeled “anti-social”, now they are “anti-national”

Sigmund Freud called America a “giant mistake” when he and Carl Jung went to Clark University to lecture. (America in 1909 had appeared to him as merchant and devoid of intellectual essence.) My “giant mistakes”, on the other hand, concern my inability to continue transforming into Basenji. Despite all the conscious efforts, resolutions, even wishes on my part, to be one, I persisted as stubbornly as our plastic thelis in the bazaar and could not join the flock of sheep – I by that means the pack of Basenjis. Unlike the barkless dog, my big mouth has repeatedly caused me trouble, so much so that I sincerely suspect if I have been surreptitiously cursed (or blessed, as the case may be) by Narad Muni for saying “them. good things to good people ”. And the timing has always been perfect.

Now this is not a recent habit that I have acquired. This is the one I have suffered since childhood. We children would wait for Karva Chauth’s day when married women, dressed in head-to-toe red with thick makeup and bridal jewelry, were the cynosures, providing material for gossip, ridicule, praise. and reviews for days. to come. The day was perfect, but the timing was – still is – questionable. I chose the alleys of the row of houses in our neighborhood to play badminton and very calmly made a remark about the wife of my friend’s newly married brother who preferred to cover herself in layers of makeup despite her beauty. breathtaking. Waving my badminton racket in the air, I presented my precious observation that she must have started applying heaps of cosmetics when the puja was a five hour drive away. Lo and behold, my friend standing by the kitchen window heard me and didn’t speak to me for a long time until one day she accepted my esteemed opinion. But of all the houses and house windows, my choice of where to deliver my line was flawless.

I am of course not one who easily learns the lessons of life. Working at the college as a new recruit, I sharply criticized the conduct of the principal who not only loved to entertain an army of sycophants, but also followed one rule: “Show me your face and I will decide who to bestow my favor on. “. This is how I hit the head of the institution head-on and faced the music, in many musical notes. I have been rightly called a “fool”. Basenjis, yesmen and yeswomen, were the “samajhdar”. They had a unique and uniform principle when they interacted with powers – “don’t question them, be acce bacche!” “

In today’s world of chaos and paradoxes, a new dictionary is being written where every word seems to have a meaning that is just the opposite of the original. And it was Basenjis who wrote this not-so-secret code. For example, “smart” and “cunning” can just mean smart and dynamic, while being “straightforward and honest” reduces you to a “murkh”, a top-notch “mood”. As a child, we played with a clay doll that had a still body but a dancing head. You don’t have to move your body to do anything, just shake your head in front of the successful person, paraphrase their words, and repeat their message is the idea. My upside down world echoes with the sound of their wise but unsolicited advice – “matlabi ho jaa (be selfish if you have any wisdom left)”, or “karunga mein gandi baat (I will talk to you)”.

Strange are the ways of living in this world, as my mother, my grandmother and my great-grandmother vouched for individually and separately, but never witnessed it. But yes, I have heard stories from them full of amazing events; where day was night and night was day. In the space of a second, a man could become a monster, and women were bloodthirsty witches in the guise of nymphs.

These are just stories, I thought at the time. Now I wonder: does this mean that while living the same old monotonous life day in and day out, unbeknownst to me, I have reached Gulliver’s world where people sleep all day and are awake at night , where they hide their true stature as miniature trolls or huge demons, measuring against each other, weighing each other and tying you with ropes? Or am I Alice in Wonderland, where the Red Queen is about to scream with her head, only will that happen in reality?

I studied for years; read countless books. From Kabir to Kant, from Gorky to Gabriel Garcia Marques, from Premchand to Pouchkine, Oscar Wilde, Rahi Masoom Raza, Manto, Ismat Chugtai, Rajinder Singh Bedi, Amrita Pritam, Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Gandhi, Nehru, Karl Marx, I cannot count the number of authors and books that I have ingested. I loaded myself up with degrees but, lo and behold, I only recently achieved wisdom – religion and only religion is the ultimate vanity box. Dharm is your Aadhaar card! There is only one tape measure. Who are you, they ask. A Hindu. And you? A Muslim. Whether you have knowledge or are ignorant of the political left or the political right, even rightly or wrongly, it doesn’t matter, simple bhai! Play the game of religion, write ballads to the glory of politicians and live in mirth – “bas maujan hi maujan”.

In the new dark age or kalyug, the Basenjis follow one more rule, diligently. Those who dare to question powers were previously labeled “anti-social”, now they are “anti-national”. This notion is the ideal way to camouflage your failures, weaknesses and vices. Patriotism has become the property or the jagir of a few people and communities. But behind the costume of religion and patriotism, the message is loud and clear: “Shut up”.

The world is only for the merchants – choose only the gold box or, if you can’t, the silver box and reap the benefits (Shakespeare, please forgive me). Yet, is there anyone who will ultimately choose a simple box with the inscription: “Whoever chooses me must give and risk all he has”?

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