A prominent English newspaper of Kolkata regularly invites pictures from the readers upon a chosen topic each month; the current topic being "Silver Linings".
Everyday 5-10 elegant pictures of the setting sun playing peek-a-boo behind the clouds are getting published; the skyline might be of Kolkata or rural Bengal, Qutub Minar or Eiffel Tower. As a matter of fact, I have also sent a picture of sun rays piercing through white clouds above a rural setting!
As I am regularly viewing the pictures with much eagerness; the other day an exceptional picture not only met my eye, but hit my heart as well. Also I mentally thanked the sender of the picture for interpreting "Silver Linings" in a metaphorical way, not literally. The picture showed a young lady sitting upon a road with deep philosophical eyes and a little girl playing with a few toys with pure smiles and joy in face --- though poverty was written upon the appearance of both of them. No wonder the photographer has discovered "Silver Linings" in the frame as the body language of the two characters clearly imply that they are simply refusing to get bogged down to poverty and sufferings. The photographer deserves kudos for thinking and viewing in a different way ie outside the "mainstream"!
However with passage of time, certain contrary thoughts have started emanating in my mind revolving the picture. The photographer had perceived Optimism within the act and stance of his subjects. Myself have also got impressed on the sight of the two unvanquished figures; surely many have also thought likewise. But would the photographer, myself and fellow minded persons agree to put our feet within the shoe worn by the young lady and the little girl! At least I would not as I am not ready to sacrifice my middle-class existence! Then why should I draw inspiration from the "Silver Linings" being transmitted from the folks of the road! If I wish to learn to fight various adversities in my life in a valiant way by thinking that at least I am in a better position than those two fighting smiling figures; then am I not acting selfish by treating them as mere pawns in the war of life!
Thanks to the instant lockdown without notice in March 2020, millions of poorest of poor were negotiating the highways in almost starved stomachs while undergoing the long arduous journey walking back home hundreds or thousand kilometers away. Though hundreds of those unfortunate folks collapsed upon the streets out of heat strokes or accidents, surely few of them were seen to be smilingly marching home despite being hungry, tired and sleepless!
Now on witnessing the sight, if I only draw inspiration from their positive attitude of life and move on; am I not overlooking another side of the coin i.e. the heartlessness embedded within the whole episode! Shouldn't I question why they had felt compelled to frantically walk home in the cruelest of conditions! Why they had got subjected to such a mental and physical turmoil when the privileged folks were "enjoying" the pandemic-induced-lockdown to the full by reviewing 'Ramayana', playing Ludo with spouse, cooking delicacies and posting it in Social Media to count the number of "Likes" garnered! Shouldn't I feel ashamed that despite billions of our fellow citizens burning in the hell of acute poverty and hunger; we are made to hear the relentless trumpet of India's "development" and "modernity"! In the same vein, why should I view "Silver Linings" in such a frame where the subjects are bereft of basic human rights and dignified existence! We will only look at their smiles, but not the hidden tears within their soul just like we remain engrossed with the beauty of the spring without caring to have a look at the tears of sad grieving women as written by Rabindranath Tagore("Dukhini naarir noyonero nir Sukhi jone jeno dekhite naa paay .... Aaha, aaji e bosonte eto phul phote, Eto bnaashi baaje, eto paakhi gaay" --- "Tears of an upset maiden be concealed/Hidden from people who are happy ... Abundance of blossoms in this spring, Flutes sound sweet, birds sing")!
In this context, it would perhaps not be irrelevant if two much-publicised "charitable" quotes are invoked ---- "Behind every successful man, there is a woman" and "Indians should worship women as Debis(deities)"! Though apparently there lies no objection in these two statements; but any self-respecting woman would demand that they also desire to be successful and walk beside their man, not behind! Also they are least interested to get "worshipped" as "Devi", just equal treatment with the menfolk without any sort of discrimination would be enough for them!
Ending with that much overhyped story of "resilience of Mumbai" immediately after any bomb explosion hit the megapolis or it goes under water in monsoon! What excellent jargon by the well-sheltered, well-fed privileged (who do not have to suffer through loss of lives and property) and a section of the media to hide scandalous failure and callousness of the state of affairs of the much overhyped city! Mumbaikars are bound to act normal despite any social/seasonal setback as offices(specially of essential sector) are still required to attend, shops required to open, hospitals required to visit for treatment with the domestic workers bound to call on their employers! In such a hard materialistic world where the majority have to fight for food everyday, where exactly lies any scope of affording the privilege of sitting at home and so is there any option other than being "resilient"!
"Silver Linings" in any situation or sphere is definitely welcome; but only when the apparent picture of "Optimism" does not sweep the ills and failures of the society under the carpet!
(The views expressed are personal)