he guests burst in an eye-watering laughter. I do not now remember the capital joke that my father had thrown at them. I was only a mere boy then. All I remember of that meeting at our home, is that they had talked of the ‘glorious’ son of one of their distant relatives who was working in the United States. The presence of one such person in the family was celebrated as if a medal of honour had been bestowed upon them. In average families such was the case back then and perhaps is, even now, in India.
As a child, I knew nothing about America and had just gathered that it is the greatest nation on earth, on the news, in the papers and books, from ordinary men and wild imagination. I knew not of the American Civil War, nor of any of the scientific discoveries to a great extent, history of feminism nor the role of United States in the World Wars, its position as arguably the leader of all nations since mid 20th century. I hardly knew anything about the history of my own country why ought I care about a foreign nation’s?
But the spark I saw in my father’s eyes on the bare mention of this country that day made me resolve that I too one day must set foot upon this hallowed ground, the land of dreams. I too shall be a badge that my family proudly wears when they’re meeting other families. I too shall be the envy of someone else’s father.
United States is a mother with a billion teats. It nourishes her own children, children that have come to her from distant and foreign lands, and stops not there, but sees to it that poor children who do not even have strength to beg for alms receive vaccines, food packages and monetary help. It amazes me how people take its largesse for granted. What is it that obliges this country of abundance to share in its wealth and superior knowledge of trade and science? Despite leading the world in all spheres, it sits not quietly and complacently, but continuously harshly critiques itself and evolves. Such thoughts swirled in my mind as I headed towards a Mexican restaurant for lunch.
Two policemen sitting within the restaurant were muttering their complaints against the current government in low voices but their words didn’t escape my ears. The xenophobic and jingoistic wave, the conservative force inhibiting progress and fueling superstitions and conspiracy theories, the backward stance on climate issue, plain buffoonery and open threats in the stead of fine oratory, the prevalent greediness crossing lines posing danger to human lives; all such problems plague this great eagle today to a larger degree, which I formerly thought it was not susceptible to due to the presence of an intelligent populace. It wouldn’t be for the first time though that humanity is being pinched at places by regressive mindsets and it wouldn’t be the last. We must be patient. Whether the silence of the sea or the noise of the storm both must commence and both must come to an end. All the chaos I read in the papers these days bring to my mind an old aphorism printed on the door of my grandma’s house: “Truth can surely and easily be harassed, but can never be defeated.”
© The Flowers of Art