Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Do Ree Mi

Do Ree Me?

Its easy actually..Ignorance that is. One would think its difficult, like unlearning something or accidentally learning a lot. No siree. Look at me, I say! Living in a town, then a city, then a metro, progressively so, its only easy to live in a bubble and not realize 'it' exists in reality. Nobody ever talks about it, really. No wait! I did come across it a couple of times, VERRY hush hush. Someone's someone's someone was gonna get married, and the groom's parents wanted the entire home furnished. They didnt really use the D word. It was already illegal by the time i could talk. Its got a more subtle, implicit
term to it. Expectation. "Its just an expectation from the groom's side" they said.

Every other time I've come across the D word in exactly two places--family dramas of the 80s [the kiran kumar/visu/aruna irani kinds with bad mother in law and meek son and such] and in newspapers.Regularly so. Family tea-time was usually reserved for climax of such movies.Yep, thats the part where kerosene soaked daughter-in-law is about to be set alight, and her good brother-in-law is delivering memorized bhashan to wicked mother-in-law. For what it was worth, those movies had a social message atleast. And in my heart of hearts, i believed it was like slavery or smtg. Sure, there are movies about it, only to show how wicked it was. Of course it doesnt exist anymore, its illegal for gods sake.

Then comes the time when i am reading newspapers like its going out of style. Headlines, bylines, reports, everything was gobbled down [even obituary columns, though that was coz grandpa wanted to update his address book]. Dowry cases were reported there of course. "Kitchen deaths" of brides. There was always a suspect, so it kinda became like murder, you know? you read murder reports, someone is always captured or guilty, its illegal as hell and hey, of course tehre is a 2% chance anyone in your family or friends circle who do it. Makes sense right? Apparently nope. Coz you run along in life, hop skip and jumping into the next birthday, growing older, none the wiser, thinking education is the solution to all things idiotic. AIDS, female infanticide, etc--education works right? Well, wrong apparently.

Coz hey, it still exists. And guess what? among the educated fools, no less. Price tags on sons, price tags on their education, price tags on MNC status and price tags on payslips. And no, lets not stop there. For every guy who demands dowry, there is a bride's family willing to pay up. Though decidedly, a simple lesson on India's social structure should indicate where the power lies. And while i am only too happy to talk of exceptional instances where there is no Dowry, implicit, explicit or otherwise, it still doesnt remove the fact that the "groom's family expects the apartment to be furnished" or the "wedding to be funded". Which is the point where your whole belief system in education comes to a grinding halt. And rightly so. Why?

coz it points out exactly where education fits in the system. Its a means to an end, given the importance for the ends, which in most cases, is a degree, a job, and a career. Its not presumed, or assumed, to make a person see the world better. Or understand the difference between logic and fallacy. Or used education as a tool to guide a person to what is simply sensible, practical, broad-minded thinking. Its a bunch of math tables, and calculus, and engineering courses. and if THAT is education, and THAT only--i cant find it in me to laugh at those who are taught 'holistically'. I couldnt laugh senselessly at those who are taught sociology, painting, social-services, imagination-classes, moral science and not just math, science and geography. Education needs to be wholesome to be complete in any sense. And if education fails to instill in people the values of equality, the respect for human beings and to question authority and traditions. Then it hasnt done its job. So the next time an engineer tells me that "our education system breeds extremely intelligent people" i would certainly like to ask for the definition of that intelligence. And if in any way, the encapsulates the word 'sensible person'. I doubt it always does.

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