Saturday, October 16, 2004

Midnight's child

    Midnight has many children; the offspring of Independence were not all human. Violence, corruption, poverty, generals, chaos, greed and pepperpots. [Rushdie, Midnight's children.]
Growing consumerism, amassing of wealth by a few, involvement of those in the government and law enforcing authorities in unlawful activities, surge in alcoholism, and flourishing sex rackets. All seem to be interconnected, at least in Kerala. So many sex scandals in the last decade, each has its share of politicians, police superintendents, businessmen, and top movie stars.

The latest "sensational" (as the media call it) scandal is from Kumarakom, the now famous tourist resort in Kerala. A teenager from Kumarakom, who aspired to become a movie star, was raped over several months by many "important" people. She also delivered a baby two months back on the 15th of August. Another offspring of Independence. Another midnight's child.

Kumarakom was made internationally famous by Arundhati Roy's "The God of small things". Kumarakom is also famous for "Kumarakom musings", the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's new year thoughts in the year 2000, when he was vacationing in Kumarakom. Vajpayee wrote:

    Guided by the light of the eternal and universal values of our civilisation, inspired by a modernising vision of national development, and powered by the youthful energy of one billion children of Bharat Mata, we can certainly make the 21st Century India's Century.
I wonder whether this teenager's child will ever read Vajpayee's musings from her/his birthplace, and if so how she/he will react to it. Perhaps the mother and child will find Arundhati Roy closer to reality:
    It's odd, when the Prime Minister goes vacationing in the setting of your worst, most private, childhood terrors. It's funny how my terrors have become a tourist paradise ... but it's okay. I'm a big girl now.
Update (November 14): In a sad development, the teenager who was at the center of the Kumarakom sex scandal, passed away today morning [PTI].

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