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.

For whom the bell tolls

A book of faces