Shaming Shame

'Shame is an externally dictated response to a societal construct, imposed by the group on an individual. It proscribes what you must not watch on TV, or read only with a torch under the covers, or listen only when others aren’t around; it forces the length of your hair, beard, and even skirts, and its absence makes you feel safe to take off your veil because no one will look and tell your brothers, parents and elders—the keepers of the community’s values. Rushdie defied that, and in The Black Album, Kureishi cheered that defiance, by showing the gradual transformation that his protagonist Shahid Hasan underwent, opting for freedom over blind faith.

In Behud, Tarlochan Kaur Grewal (Bhatti’s alterego) celebrated her victory differently: Even as a man burnt her manuscript, and the image on the wall showed a window engulfed by flames, letters of the alphabet defiantly fled the fire; a photocopier began spewing out pages of her manuscript—like those people on an island at the end of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, who recite the books the authoritarian state has outlawed and burnt.

That, in the end, is the best weapon against the bigots: to remember, to share, and to tell these stories, again and again, so that even if they burn the books, our stories survive.'

- Salil Tripathi, 'Shaming our liberties'.


Popular Posts