It would be hard to find a building more burdened with suffering and memory in all of Delhi. And yet, if you walked past it, you would hardly turn your head to look at it again. There was nothing that distinguished it from the tens of thousands of other urban cages anywhere in the country.
Tushar, the son of a police officer in Haryana, studied at University of Pennsylvania and worked for three years as an investment banker in the United States and Singapore. Matt migrated as a teenager to the United States with his parents, and studied in MIT.
All of 19 years old, Raheem’s voice was steady as he spoke about the uprooting, betrayal and loss his family endured during the communal violence which swept the districts of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli in Uttar Pradesh in 2013.
India’s classrooms today mirror, produce and reproduce the disgraceful inequalities that scar the country. It is here that the children of the rich receive the best education that money can buy. They rarely if ever rub shoulders with the children of the poor, of working-class parents, and of socially ostracised castes and discriminated religions.
A middle-aged man who repairs shoes on a street corner in Ahmedabad and who has slept for many years on the pavements of the city is one among the hundreds who joined the Azadi Kooch, the protest march from Ahmedabad to Una village in Gir Somnath district against the public lashing of Dalit men for skinning a dead cow.
There’s a shameful practice with a tragic legacy that has gone on in India for millennia. It involves entrapping women, men and even children into a hated and humiliating occupation only because of the accident of their birth into the lowest caste.
There is one memory that Tauseef Hussain, now in his twenties, still cherishes of his grandfather Ehsan Jafri. When he visited Jafri in Ahmedabad from the United States with his mother, Jafri’s daughter, during summer vacations, he would have to sit in Jafri’s library in the stifling summer heat.
Amidst the grief, the bewilderment, the anger and the sense of loss that lingers after the brutal killings in a gay night-club in Orlando in the United States on the night of June 12, 2016, the Parliament of the World’s Religions issued a luminous statement – a moving, reflective, startlingly self-critical open letter to leaders and people of faith the world over.
Finding my Way, a singular book of dense and haunting beauty, audacious, original and innovative, iridescent with startling imagery and wisdom, could only emerge from a multitude of exceptional encounters. Of Gond painting and the poetic English word. Of tribal forest village India and the big city.
On the wall is a painting of a beaming Rohith Vemula. Below his face is a poignant engraving: 1989-Forever. Under the painting on the floor are sprawled around 20 mattresses, on which groups of students sit in clusters, work on their laptops, or stretch out listlessly.