Ground Zero: Merry Protest-mas to you too

‘Tis the Season to be Jolly and finally I am feeling the teensiest bit happy after a long time. Not over the prospect of days off, or that winter has finally made its appearance in its jokey Bombay avatar, or even that the price of onions doesn’t stink as much as it did two weeks ago.

It is because of the numbers turning out to protest against the CAA and the NRC and the NPC and no, I don’t need to spell out the lethal alphabet soup that is tearing this country apart with its demands that you identify yourself as a citizen through hard-to-procure documents,

Ground Zero: Merry Protest-mas to you too

if you don’t want to land up in one of those massive concentration camps being built and which now also threaten to provide some people with a whole new jobs avenue.

To watch clips and videos and pour over pictures of the August Kranti Maidan rally on Thursday caused such a welling up of emotion and even the release of tears for many, that it gives you an idea of how much suppressed rage and fear governs this city. As it is, living in Mumbai has its own

hardships and problems, mainly of the mobility variety. Prices are soaring, the state government stares at ruin if it does not get its act together, the hyenas snap at our heels.

But since Diwali, the shops and establishments, purveying all that our hearts still desire, have been lit with a kind of false cheer that hasn’t gone out.

And now that cheer is threatening to turn genuine. We seem to be a united country after all, maybe the divisions have not gone beyond the point of no return. Hindu-Muslim seem to be raazi after all, and the kazis in Delhi can just suck it up.

I love Christmas colours, green and orangey-red. They go so naturally together, providing visual relief only in their unity. Whether pots of poinsettia, wreaths of holly and mistletoe or Crawford Market synthetic firs, that dull green holds the infinite promise of the season, awaiting only its glittery strings and shining baubles, its cunningly hidden figurines and the excitement of mysterious wrapped packages under it. That green tree, no matter how big or small, always delivers.

Once I bought an Araucaria fir, a sad, slightly-lopsided thing precisely because it looked so sad, like a fir standing on its head with the bigger branches spreading ever-upward.

I imagined us growing old together in our cramped city flat. But good sense finally prevailed and I carried it down one March to plant it in proper ground.

But before I did, I noticed a single bead of bright resin oozing out on its bark and on impulse, I squeezed it, only to release an absolute rush of pure, olfactory delight.

I thought of cold breezes and mountain heights, starry nights and the song of the universe, goodness and kindness and hope in a new year, second chances and forgiveness.

Last Thursday, watching thousands of people of every class, community and political persuasion, students, parents, teachers and activists come together on a weekday afternoon to protest against a fell law, kranti became truly august, democracy was restored to its true meaning.

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