Sunday, September 04, 2016

The Ugly House

It was an ugly house.

The old house, and old it was, was an unsightly mess.  Chipped off paint, mold and seeping water, poorly designed pillars, broken steps, overflowing septic tank, a "garden" full of weeds and insects, garbage strewn around, decomposing left-over food, ...

People who had seen other houses passed by this house and cursed loudly at it.  "What a horrible ungodly pigsty it is."  "It should just be razed to the ground."  "What an eyesore." "Don't the people who live here have any sensitivity?" "Are they even human?"

An old man lived in that house.  Nobody had bothered to ask him why his home was the way it was.  And he was too old, and too frail, and too naive, and perhaps even too ignorant, to explain it.

But if you looked closely, and carefully, it was apparent that he had lived an irregular life.  His right arm, amputated, was just a stump.  He had a hunchback, it seemed he had carried heavy burdens.  There were concussion marks on his head, and marks of lashings on his back.  Who had tortured him so brutally?  It was a miracle that he was even surviving.  It was said that he was a slave for many decades, but after his masters set him free, his own brothers enslaved him and tortured him even more.

There was no supply of water to his home, even though he paid his monthly bill.  He was unwashed and so was his house.

He had tried to go to a hospital once.  He was abused and chased out.

At the end of his tether and teetering at the brink of giving up and dying, he was so scared, so scarred, so witless and so inward-looking that notions of beauty, aesthetics and even good health were meaningless to him.

When I see my fellow countrymen and countrywomen, the easy option is to deride them for their underdevelopment and unwholesomeness.  But when I see the scars of their history, the unwritten history, and believe me it is unwritten as yet, of their brutal oppression by their tyrannical masters, and the fear in their eyes, and also the hope that their children will win an Olympic medal, have better hair and a good haircut and will read books not just in the syllabus, I see them not as flawless vessels of glass but as sometimes ashen embers in a clay oven burning so that the jade that comes out of the hearth will be more beautiful and will reflect the sun's rays with more fierceness than the dull deathly despondence of their fathers and forefathers who lived in ugly houses because all the beauty and truth and hope and songs of gaiety and freedom had been robbed from them.

1 comment:

Venkat said...

India's problem with uncleanliness (or being 'ugly') lies to a large extent on the attitude of its people. It was only this morning I saw a man spit out from the backseat of a luxury car on the streets on Mumbai. The same people will abide by the laws of the land when they are in the West. One routinely sees people spitting pan masala on the roads.
Regarding Olympic medals: the only sport that India really pays attention to is cricket. How many Indians in their life are really encouraged to even think of any other sport as a career option? Even if they do succeed the system provides no support, is corrupt, and they are forced to think of other options as a career.
The real issue is the people who deal with the only man. The day those men decide to stop being corrupt and do right is the day India can start think of becoming a developed country.