Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Are you visible enough?

When Griffin turned invisible courtesy all the medical concoctions in the famous novel by H.G Wells, the world let out a gasp debating if it could be a near possibility where human beings could alter their refractive index, and merge into the thin air,unnoticed. Some said it was impossible. It was a mere work of fiction, debunking facts, playing with our imagination. Then came Mr. Ralph Ellison who had a 'colored' perception of one turning invisible. The margins were drawn and the intellectual debates on the question of identity rolled on. Harry Potter's cloak of invisibility turned into a prized possession for every creative mind. It was Harry's tool as it helped him unveil secrets galore in many of his post-bedtime adventures. Moreover, as youngsters we have often been told and re-told stories of disembodied spirits and ghosts, who are 'invisible' to naked eyes but their existence can nevertheless be denied.

"If I were invisible.." is a common topic to nurture writing skills in creative and imaginative children of all ages. What gets me amused is the answers I receive as a teacher. Imagination runs wild as children quench their desire for adventure and fun in their well-written essays. If one decides to plunder a chocolate shop, the other wills to spend a quiet time in the library hidden from the view of critical eyes. Another yearns to quench her longing for travel to countries afar by gaining admission in a flight unseen by the attendants. Being invisible is such a boon to these young minds. It can make their dreams come true, can help them perform the unthinkable, unleash their naughtiest side and still not get is the route to freedom and bliss, the same which are denied in actuality, curbed by norms, destroyed by morality.

Yet, even though we dream to be "invisible" are we visible enough in the current state of affairs? I would like to share an incident that took place recently in a public bus. The fare was six rupees. I was not carrying adequate change. The seats were full, so I had to stand my way to the next stop. While trying to balance myself and coping with the multiple road-bumps, I managed to fish out a ten-rupee note. The bus conductor was visibly in a bad mood. He started hurling abuses at me for not carrying the exact change. With some remarks being too offensive to bear, I joined the war of words, desperately beseeching the other passengers for help. It seemed that every soul in the bus had lost both their senses and voice. They looked out of the window, indifferent to the hooliganism demonstrated by the conductor. I was shocked and hurt. Hurt by how my co-passengers chose to behave. Hurt that they chose to remain invisible.

Scene 2. A busy thoroughfare in a metropolitan city populated by the literates and the educated. A truck collides into a car driven by a a gentleman in his mid-thirties. He is accompanied by his young daughter of five.The gentleman suffers a fatal head injury due to the tremendous impact. He lies unconscious, with blood trickling from the sides of his forehead, turning his pale cream colored shirt red. The child with tear washed eyes pleads for help from the passing vehicles. She needs to save her Daddy. Her Daddy is lying still and motionless. No help was extended. No generosity shown. The father breathed his last in the city peopled by invisible men.

So what makes us invisible? The sameness of our lives? Our self-centered nature? The desire to avoid trouble at all costs by leading a 'safe' life...a life where there is no room for 'unwanted' disputes and aggression? Or perhaps all of them. We live in a society where all people turn stone faced in public but share winks and LOLs in the virtual sphere. It is a dog-eat-dog world, where survival of the fittest attains new parameters. "Your problem is your problem, and my problem is yours too" is the attitude that defines us today. Anonymity is a part of us and we inhabit the anonymous.So basically, we don't need a cloak to envelop us in secrecy or a pill to guarantee our invisibility. In being what we are today, we are invisible (and not invincible, as many would choose to believe). A reason enough to celebrate, eh?

With witnesses turning hostile in corridors of Law, and Justice seeing the light of the day after decades, I wish we decided to be visible for a day, and fought back our complacence, be passionate, feel alive to each moment of our lives. I wish we took an adventure down the common streets by standing up against the wrong and backing up the right, by finding our voice and behave rationally (for a change). I believe, that at present, turning invisible is the simplest thing that one can do, but turning the visibility button on demands  courage...and a lot of it.
Enough of receding to the background as a wallflower, 
Awaiting the wheels of fortune to turn in our favour.
It's time to be the change we so long desire,
Let go off our inhibitions,and kindle the fire.
Set minds ablaze with a passion so strong,
We need to be visible... to right our wrong.

So, as a teacher, my question to you is if you were given an opportunity, would you embrace invisibility with open arms (and savour a part of yourself that you already are..) or would you decline it and choose to be visible instead (and save yourself and posterity)? 

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