HOLDING ON TO NEW REALIZATIONS as much as possible, before they slip out into oblivion.
One of the biggest differences between living in USA and living in India is the presence/lack of personal, real-life conversation and this virtual conversation on social media. No matter how powerful your writing is and how real your feelings are, you simply cannot touch family and friends on Facebook and Twitter, or email or blog your smiles or tears.
Powerful USA, a country that takes pride in its individualistic lifestyle and keeps breaking down the real society in the name of democracy or freedom (which is so fake and superficial), has now colonized the privileged class in India, but it still has a very long way to go before it can take over the vast majority of poor Indians — Bengalis, Punjabis, Marathis, Tamils, Hindus, Muslims, atheists or tribals — and their life of togetherness.
And because I belong to that class, I feel so good to be in that environment of togetherness. It exudes love, care and respect, and you can feel it and touch it and smell it and eat it and drink it, in spite of the lovelessness and lack of care and disrespect and hurt that slowly sink in and destroy hope for humanity. It is not easy to describe it, and because my first language is not English, I have a hard time describe it, although I try.
I am writing my Bengali memoir now, and all of the above feelings come through, perhaps better illustrated there (and I’m looking for translators). But I translate my feelings constantly in English for the educated and privileged audience, who “matter more” with their economic, social and political powers.
I never use sexy language, and refuse to be a part of the corporate-media-driven, fake sensationalism and narcissism. I never “like” a post without reading it first. I never comment without thinking twice about it and its consequence.
I use social media in USA because there is no real-life society, except for my relatively small labor union and activism circles. If I had a real society like the one I just came back from, I would refuse Facebook altogether.
People tell me that I have made a difference in their lives and thinking process through my work, writing and teaching, and that’s blessing from some God I truly don’t know. But please know that this virtual medium is only stop gap for me.
I would rather be out there with you, holding your hand, looking in your eyes, and smiling together. Sharing together, knowing we’re actually listening. That is life. Do not destroy it, India. Do not destroy it, Bengal, Punjab. Do not let them destroy the society, America.
Individualism-only is not freedom or democracy. A real society is.
Hold on to it.
Back in Brooklyn, New York