Last month, I was in a little village in the heart of UP, the state that is the butt of nearly half of the jokes related to corruption and feudalism (Bihar is the butt of the rest of those jokes). And I met a group of people who inspired in me a profound respect.
One of them in particular fired my imagination. You see, he is a person who explains his profession as 'works in a bank'. You know the type- those faceless men and women who sit at cluttered desks in windowless rooms. The rooms are lit by flickering tubelights. The stuffing is poking out of the chairs, the formica is peeling off the desks. We tend to be rather impersonal with these people. There are banks I have had accounts with for years. I have not spoken, really spoken, to any of the people who update my books, give me my cheques, take my cash. I do not know their names. For all I care, they are automatons that switch on at 9am and off at 5pm.
I have missed out on so much.
This particular man leads a life worthy of a fantasy super-hero. 9 to 5, he 'works in a bank'. 5pm to 9am, he fights against injustice. In the evenings and during holidays, Sanjay is a leader in a battle against a modern-day Goliath. He does not belong by birth to the village he is fighting for, he and the village have now adopted each other. He takes what he knows best- numbers- and and teaches the villagers how they can be weapons. And mighty effective weapons they are. If it were not for him, the protest at Mehdiganj would have not have had the impact that it does today.
The last time I went to UP, I met a rickshaw-puller who built a temple so that he could rid his family of the discrimination they were subject to for generations. This time, I met a superhero. What will happen next, I wonder.
An Easter Resurrection
6 days ago