How can the leading country of the world, beacon of liberty and democracy, custodian of freedom and human rights, snatch little children out of their parents’ hands, detain them in barbed wire pens with aluminium foil for cover, and make toddlers represent themselves in court? Nah, just kidding, Germany would never do that (I think. I have learned not to put anything past anyone). That kind of barbarism is reserved for nasty tinpot states, like the United States after its tragic takeover by a petulant mandarin—in the sense of orange—who came pre-loaded with a gold-plated piece of flint where his heart should be, and porridge where his brain should be.
Of course India has been separating immigrant families for years, as Scroll.in
recently reminded us—sticking the children of Bangladeshi immigrants in one shelter and their parents in another, or keeping the kids in India and sending the parents back home. As you know, everything of consequence in the world first originated in India. Now even Denmark is going to follow suit with its ‘ghetto package’, which will separate children from parents to dye them in ‘Danish values’.
In case you haven’t noticed, the world has officially gone nuts. Countries are being made great again by reinforcing fences and enforcing cultural homogeneity with big spiky sticks. Globalisation is so 1990; normalisation is the new thang. Here in India we were also promised greatness again, which has been duly delivered to us in the form of government ads for our greatness in the papers, on television, online, and on your mobile phones. The rest is wonderland, as in Alice In.
Once you’re down the rabbit hole in any wonderland, you find a thing called normalisation. That’s when crazy and repugant become pedestrian. Isn’t it jolly here, through the looking glass, in our land peopled with Queens of Hearts who bounce around going ‘Off with their heads’ about once a day, so that now everyone gets breakfast, lynch, and dinner? The houses of the People are stuffed full of March Hares who get away with saying insane things that would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago, as they also try to make humans less legal than numbers. Here in wonderland, newsrooms are staffed by a combination of March Hares and Dormice who combine loudness with laziness and cowardice, and justice really is about sentence before verdict. The country is being led into lunacy by the man with the Cheshire Cat smile, aided by his Knave of Hearts, and people are cheering them on. It only takes enough lunatics for lunacy to be normal.
Between now and 2019, those still in relative possession of their faculties are going to have to retain a firm grip on them, because, let’s face it, there can be a real thrill in giving in to madness. Ah, the freedom! Ah, the emotional high! Ah, the frenzy of the rampaging id! Bloodlust is breaking free ever more frequently, whether online or in the flesh, and those who hold the reins of power encourage it with tea parties, garlands and sweets, and the backing of state resources and patronage. It’s a real funhouse, this wonderland, where we can see ourselves bent out of shape in the looking glasses—except that the mirrors are fine, and we really are grotesque versions of ourselves.
Maybe 2019 will be a change for the better; maybe not. Either way, the question that beats like a pulse in my head is the White Rabbit’s: Are we too late?
Mitali Saran is a Delhi-based writer email@example.com