The Rat's Fate

Aesop’s fables are usually short, simple and filled with wisdom. A couple of recent events that attracted a lot of media attention reminded me of the tale of the rat and the frog. For people who haven’t heard the story, basically there was this rat which went and befriended a frog. They decided to travel together, their legs tied to each other – one of those typical show of friendship. As they travelled, they came across a pond. The frog suddenly felt immense desire to enter the water. Forgetting the rat it jumped right in, dragging the poor rat along. It is anyone’s guess what must have been the fate of the rat. 

Now coming to the events, the first one is the backlash Anushka Sharma faced on social media in the eve of the Indian cricket team’s exit from the world cup. Male chauvinism and unrealistic expectation from sportsmen are two causes most people attribute to this backlash. But I see a different cause – friction between strata of society. Most of us middle class in our heart of hearts have a hidden bitterness towards celebrities, politicians and scions of wealthy business families, who we feel have been gifted a fortune on a platter while we have to struggle for every penny. This bitterness is what I feel finds outlet in public outrage against celebrities. Say Virat Kohli’s girlfriend was a non-celebrity - would she have attracted this much ire?

The second one is the video on choice starring Deepika Padukone. The Video reminded me of the famous lines by French queen Marie Antoinette. When someone told her people did not have bread to eat, she responded as to why they do not eat cake then? Some view it as sarcasm but there is other view that this was her innocence and total disconnect with the life of the masses. This Choice video seemed the same. It came out as if all that matters to women is taking care of appearance and having sex. That is possible true of women belonging to the class the actress and the director of the video belongs to. But women of other classes have other more pressing matters that demand their attention.

Similar differences exist between the middle class and lower rung of society as well. We have often heard people complain about how much they have done for their maid servant or driver; yet the person does not at all seem grateful. Obviously so! Whatever scraps you throw to them, the basic class difference is not going to vanish. In their heart of hearts they must perceive this as a basic injustice to them and resent us. In some cases, it is even justifiable. While some may have obtained their position in life through personal initiative, intelligence and toil, quite a few must have got things as a privilege of birth. Middle class people have access to education and life style which without any effort on their part endows them with some basic etiquette and communication skill that makes them automatically eligible for certain basic white collar jobs. This opportunity is not open to the lower strata. 

While I am not outright against intermingling of classes, I feel one must be cognizant of the fact that friendship across classes can be a slippery ground. One has to be watchful to avoid the tragic fate of the rat.

14 comments:

Suresh Chandrasekaran said...

Perfect tale to illustrate the point, TF! Yes, there is always that 'they did not deserve it' thing - to a greater or lesser, even vanishingly small, extent in most people. Sometimes, though, when it comes to celebrities, people tend to view them in larger-than-life terms and reject them the moment they show signs of human frailty. THAT aspect, I think, is getting much lesser these days - since the days of the enigmatic, aloof celebs is almost gone now - but there is still an element of it that can crop up now and then. As in, someone thinking that VIRAT is so good that he could NOT have failed BUT for Anushka's presence there :)

Cart Hick said...

Thanks Suresh. On celebrities, I think life always gives a balanced deal. The faith that fans have on them only brings them the money. With people recognizing their human frailities, I hope they get lesser money too.

indu chhibber said...

There is a saying in Hindi 'Hasaye ka naam nahin,rulaye ka naam hai' ; which means that when we condemn someone for an omission or a failure we forget the good work done by that same person.
Despite the chasm in our ages,i find i echo your thoughts.This intermingling of classes is not for me.

Saket said...

I could see a new perspective reading this post. Your analysis on why celebrities get targeted is interesting and commendable.

However, you seem be chiding Anushka for making friends with a cross-class person-a cricketer. Why should she bother for the opinion (which keep changing everyday) of all and sundry if she has chosen to be friends with someone?

And perhaps this one, like most other celebrity relationships is of some convenience. It gives both the limelight celebrities crave for / need for survival in this world of short-memories. The fact that both have showcased their relationship eagerly makes me think so.

Cart Hick said...

Glad you agree with me, Indu. I think people are more forgiving of people in their own class than with people belonging to a different class.

Cart Hick said...

Thanks Saket. I think there is a misunderstanding though. I never said Anushka- Kohli relationshop is cross class. Both belong to the same class. But they both are a different class compared to us middle class folks. So I feel we are unlikely to be sympathetic towards their real or perceived faults. At any opportunity we will jump at them.

Shweta said...

My applause for this post! So well articulated . I found myself nodding along each line . Sometimes people rebel without a cause based on prejudices. A very perceptive post indeed!

BTW. Nice analogy with Aesop's fables. I simply love Aesop's fables. Such simple allegories with such profound morals. This was one if the earliest stories I heard from my parents. Yet after so many years recently when I found one of the early editions of the book in a historic BnB, I was as excited as a child to reread them.

Cart Hick said...

Thanks a lot, Shweta. Early edition of Aesop's fables - that should have been interesting.

Sarah Malik said...

Your opinion on deepika's vogue video is definitely the most sensible one i have read till now! I do not believe in the idea of class or caste though, we must rise up against and above these prejudices now.

Ashwini C N said...

True. The resentment takes various forms like outrage or obnoxious remarks, because we see someone living the life we dream of. A lot of human emotions (unpleasant ones) can be related to this. Having said that, yes it is a very tricky terrain which has to be dealt carefully, when one is trying to genuinely understand the issue. Ignorance is sometimes perceived as arrogance.

Cart Hick said...

Well Sarah - there is ideal scenarios and then there is reality. While we want an equal society where all people have equal opporunity and stuff, that is not reality. As long as ground reality does not change, one can not just talk of getting rid of preujudices. Are you going to share your wealth equally with your driver, maid servant etc. Are all these celebraities,business men, politicans going to give their wealth to us. As long as that does not happen, we will have edginess in interaction and we can not push it under the carpet under the name of being un preujudiced.

Cart Hick said...

Thanks Aswini. No one likes someone else getting more than them. Till we have a world where everyone gets equal share of goodies, the resentment will continue. At an individual level, maybe we can work to overcome these negative feelings at our own level and become self actualized and stuff. But that is probably a life lon journey.

themoonstone said...

Interesting perspective Karthik. The other perspective is the Deepika P's video chose to focus only those aspects which they could probably glamorize and which sells. I have also my doubts, whether the whole thing couldn't be completely thought through..in the sense of even having the controversy it was likely to generate.

Cart Hick said...

That is also possible, Asha. I just used a perspective to support my argument.

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