The awakening

Updated: Jan 05, 2020, 08:05 IST | Rahul da Cunha | Mumbai

Google provided this fascinating search for knowledge, leaving you no time for much else.

Illustration/ Uday Mohite
Illustration/ Uday Mohite

RahuklIt hadn't mattered to him before. To be fair, he argued, that being a teenager in the age of Wikipedia was wicked—('wicked' in millennial speak meant 'excellent'). Google provided this fascinating search for knowledge, leaving you no time for much else.

Plus, it was tough enough being a student today, having to hit 90 per cent marks for college admission, the peer pressure to achieve. So, you wanted to spend your leisure hours doing Gen Z things like #BottleCapChallenging and Netflix binge watching. He didn't watch TV as it is. He was the modern ostrich—head buried in his cellphone. Or focussed in his playground—a 4 inch by 4 inch playstation.

Point is, he'd deliberately stayed away from current affairs, specifically the Indian political scenario.

As it is, the country had been run all these years by a cavalcade of 'boring' uncles'—not a single one of them even attempting to communicate in his language or address his concerns. If the general retirement age was 60, why were all these doddering old fogeys still helming the show? None of them really seemed to give a sh** about the needs of his generation—which was frankly a bit weird considering that 50 per cent of the nation's population was below 25. Every election, whether local or general, each one declaring that their bunch of uncles would achieve more than the previous bunch of uncles—more development, less corruption, blah, blah, blu, blu. It was party vs party, with no real focus for the people. And those political banners, the faces staring out at you, resembling the cast of a Ram Gopal Varma movie.
Living in Mumbai city did tend to carry with it the risk of ivory-towering oneself from the rest of the country.

But, last month was a turning point. A light bulb had gone off in his head. It had happened in that far away land called New Delhi.

Jamia Milia and AMU had been these very political colleges, very aware, intense in their beliefs, always protesting. But, on this day, in the dead of night, the cops had burst into hostel rooms in the two colleges, beaten up innocent students, with batons—peaceful protesters outside the college were jailed.

And then the true resistance began—many of his college peeps and he had attended the Mumbai one. He was blown. For once, his Gen had showed up in numbers—holding some crazy ass clever posters. His admiration grew for the bunch protesting silently in the Delhi cold.

The dam seemed to have burst, in city after city. It clearly wasn't just CAA. But CAA was the last straw on the camel's back.

The noise was deafening. The young had spoken. The larger picture hadn't mattered before.

But now, there was no way he could be silent.

Living in the present wasn't possible anymore.

John K Kennedy's words resonated in his head: "Ask not what..."

He had to have a say today in his tomorrow.

Rahul daCunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahul.dacunha@mid-day.com

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