Evaluate Your Acceptance

Recently I got a chance to watch the movie “Sakhavu” (Translation: Comrade) starring Nivin Pauly. There’s a scene in the movie, where the daughter of “Sakhavu” shares an anecdote about her activism against discrepancy in canteen food during school days. This made me think of my childhood.

I did my entire primary education in one single school situated in Malappuram district in Kerala named Islahiya H.S.S. Atta Beevi was the principal those days. I was in 10th std. We had a canteen facility in the school. People who had to leave early from home, or those who forgot to take food from home ate from the canteen. Since we were in 10th std, most of us had tuition classes in the early morning, owing to which most of us couldn’t bring lunch from home. Our only solace was the canteen. Those days lunch costed 10 rupees. On Mondays and Thursdays we get biriyani, which costed 5 or 10 rupees more than the normal lunch. The schedule and rate applied to everyone, which included, teachers, school staffs and students.

But some of us noticed that there was a difference in the quantity given to us (i.e. the high school students) and the brothers in +2 class. They got a bit more than the what we got. This elicited the question, “Doesn’t our 20 rupees have the same value as theirs?

Things that happened after that was too much humour for a 10th std student can handle.

We decided to complain. We wrote a complaint letter, of which the task was given to a girl. Because, duh! the letter has to be aesthetically pleasing. Then came the task to actually, physically, go to the principal’s office, face Atta Beevi and give her the letter and possibly tell her the complaint. But the problem was nobody had the guts. Oh, I forgot to mention, Atta Beevi is a scary person. She could have you begging for life, just by looking at you. It’s obvious that she had to be a scary person, thinking about it now. How else would she manage kids like us. So after discussions and debates that wearied us for two weeks (Jk), the task was assigned to a friend of mine.

With the whole class standing behind (literally), he was sent into the Lioness’s den. Things escalated really quickly after that. He must have spent around a minute or two inside. There comes Atta Beevi, with her furious eyes, so red, that has the potential of burning anything that stands in the line of sight. All she had to say was “Any one else have the same complaint?”. The crowd was dismissed. In seconds. I still feel bad for that dear friend.

The pith of the of story isn’t in the humour of it. It’s in the fact that even at that age, a bunch of kids, had the sense to voice their opinion against inequity and inequality.

Of course, I wasn’t part of it. I was sitting back in the bench wondering what these idiots are doing. The stir about uneven amount of biriyani eluded me. I kept asking myself what is wrong with our brothers in class 12 getting a bit more biriyani than us. They are older than us and it’s always been like that. Now that I think about it, I can’t quite say why I didn’t raise my voice. It was a clear case of injustice. Anybody with a minimum common sense would be able to see that. But I didn’t.

If we dig a little deeper into the matter, we would find that this isn’t a singular incident. Even though a silly one, this anecdote emulate a lot of injustice that’s prevailing in the society right now. Suppressed groups remain suppressed for a long time, sometimes forever. Take gender equality, take racism, take caste system, they prevail because people get used to their situations. Ask a guy from the lowest level of the society, “Why don’t you change, why don’t you do something about it?” and I’m sure his answer would be somewhere along the lines of “It’s always been like this”, “I’m meant to do this” or “There’s no way out of this, I’ve accepted it”.

Yes, I believe that’s the essential reason. The acceptance.

How to beat it? It takes cognitive mind, it takes effort, and more importantly practise. If you never reacted to the little problems, it is irrefutable that you won’t take any action for the big ones. So question yourself and your surrounding, rules and regulations. Evaluate your acceptance.