I do not watch TV. To protect myself from knowing what is going on in the world. Ever since Imitha has taken to reading the morning newspaper, I have z class security from any kind of news. There is however no protection from mothers. Mine gives me several missed calls by the first half of one morning. I call back thinking the worst. Are you alright? – I ask anxiously. Her voice sounds tense. She tells me with urgency – Have you heard about Papon’s controversy? I sigh! She proceeds to fill me in with three controversies one after the other. Papon’s, Zubin’s and Zubilee’s. I beg my mother to not pass on worldly inanities to me. Who shall I tell then? – she demands.
Talking about inanities, I have stopped watching Papon’s live shows for some years now because of it. He talks too much on stage and makes one wonder what he is on. I take it as a personal insult when he expresses random un-thought-through political opinions from the self-righteous moral height of the stage. Once he said something about Oxomia and Bangladeshi. And that was the last show for me. So this time he has gone on to say one of the songs he sang during this Bihu should have been the national anthem of Assam. (I do not know the English for Jatio Xangeet).
Quite not-surprisingly Zubeen has gone on to say the same thing. No, not that the song Papon says should be the national anthem but that one of the songs he (Zubeen) sang during this Bihu should be the national anthem of Assam. I never watch Zubeen on stage. Why, just the other day he pulled out a gun at a show and pointed it at the audience, didn’t he?
What gets my goat, in the middle of being extremely busy cleaning poo these days, is that big shit is being given to this whole national anthem thing. After lecturing me on why I should renew the Tata Sky connection, mother carries on to tell me that there are fervent panel discussions going on in Assamese TV on this. Some sentimental Oxomias have even burnt Papon’s effigy. Wow! Papon now has joined the lofty club of people whose effigies get burnt. That is really big hey. Congratulations Papon! I digress. Mother insists on sharing details of the whole situation to me. Papon after all is 'like a son' to her. She names intellectuals and artists who are part of these panels. Really now? When Papon makes random comments bordering on communal hatred there wasn't a peep from anybody. When Zubeen pointed a gun at a packed audience, there was no controversy. This could have wiped out a considerable number of culture-loving Oxomias. But no intellectual or artists talked about it. It turned out the gun was fong-kong (South African for fake) but how dare he do that even as a joke? No, this did not hurt the fragile Oxomia sentiment. The whole existence of Oxomia nation instead is threatened because Zubeen and Papon want their own songs to become the national anthem of Oxomia Jati. I say why not? Did not some Oxomia great-man say once – change is constant? Why is it not possible to change the national anthem? Why should we have a national anthem? Why should we have only one? Who chose the national anthem we have now? You have bad general knowledge – mother scoffs me. But my maths is good and I have a win-win solution. I illustrate to my mother -Half or more of the Oxomia people who exist now (not forgetting we do not have a definition of an Oxomia till date) did not exist when the current NA (national anthem) was chosen. If you have to democratically select a NA now, we could do a vote through SMS. How many votes the existing NA would get is a simple answer of two minus two. So Papon and Zubeen wins. On the other hand I think the people who want the NA to remain status quo should do this SMS thing right now instead of panel discussions and effigy burning. Since the Oxomia Jati currently is anyway divided equally into Papon and Zubeen fans they will negate each other out. And even if one dinosaur from last century want the current NA to remain, it will win. The Oxomia Jati should relax and continue getting drunk and breaking chairs at Bihu functions to Papon and Zubeen's Songs. My mother is speechless for a second. Her maths is not as good as mine.
My beef with the Zubilee issue is something else altogether. She, by the way, was not allowed to perform at a Bihu function in Guwahati because she wore a salwar-kameez. The rules, it seems, say one HAS to wear a mekhela-sador to be able to sing. I warn my mother to stop at this point. She pulls out her feminist card and asks me – Why is it that there are dress-rules only for women? I tell my mother she must not bore me with such radical thoughts. Everyone knows one can sing even in a salwar-kameez. Provided one has a nice voice and is trained and practiced. I have never heard Zubilee and cannot vouch for her singing. If the Bihu committee is unaware of this fact, they must have been drunk. I do not want to comment any more on a woman’s autonomy and the right to choose what to wear. These are being rehashed since before the days my mother wore bell-bottom pants. Nor do I want to say anything about why men have no responsibility in preserving or pickling our culture. If culture can be maintained only by wearing mekhela-sador then all decisions about culture should be made by the ones who wear mekhela-sador. As my duty towards a fellow sister I have already shared her post on facebook. But my beef is why salwar-kameez and why that particular one? Salwar-kameez is one of the most boring attire designed in the history of woman kind. It covers you from neck to ankle and is difficult to take off. In the scale of clothing excitement that gets it a whooping minus 2000 immediately. In terms of appeal one can only look very sisterly (read behenji) in it. And the particular piece of salwar-kameez Zubilee wore that day (she has posted it on FB) is hideous. While I completely agree on what she has to say about no one having a right to dictate her what she wants to wear, I absolutely disagree on her choice of the costume. I think instead of the moral police, the fashion police should have stopped her. Not from singing but from wearing it.
That is why I tell you to dress properly – with mother things have to ultimately turn to me. You also have no sense of dressing. Wherever you go you always look like you have come in your night dress - she chides me. Why are you always telling me all theese ma? – I defend myself. I think you should stop watching TV too. She sighs in Nirupama Roy like melodrama again – Who else can I tell?
Here is a nice one from cartoonist Nitumoni Rajbongshi.
You can check out his work at http://www.cartoonistnituparna.com/ or on Facebook at Cartoonist Nitumoni Rajbongshi.