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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 11, New Delhi, February 27, 2021

Loneliness etc | Humra Quraishi

Saturday 27 February 2021, by Humra Quraishi



24 February 2021

Humra Quraishi

Japan has appointed a Minister of Loneliness. As news reports state, this minister’s focus would be to combat loneliness leading to rising suicides. And if I’m not mistaken almost three years back, in 2018, UK had also appointed a Minister of Loneliness to try reach out to all those battling loneliness. Don’t know whether any lessening of the lonely, but it sure does indicate that loneliness is one of those urgent concerns of the governments of the day.

What if the sarkar of the day appoints a Minister of Loneliness, here in our country! First and foremost, all those political characters who till date didn’t utter a word of their lonely existence will start talking aloud of the vacuums in their lives and with that try and grab that ministerial seat! Once that done, they will keep track of all the lonely souls around, intrude into their personal space. Giving them bogus gyaan on how they should try beat loneliness! Maybe those sarkari yoga gurus would be made to seat up there to teach the various asanas, after compelling the gullible to buy an array of hurriedly made concoctions!

Perhaps, fresh rules and regulations would be just round the corner to keep track of the lonely Indian’s professional and personal life. There will be a whole list of don’ts and dos. Hundred intruding queries, to be duly filled in lengthy forms. And special squads could be unleashed all around, in our cities and towns and qasbahs to question and query, if the lonely Indian has managed to grab or steal or pluck or even temporarily borrow a companion: Is the companion a composer or maker or editor of any of the tool kits? Is he from the tukde-tukde gang? Does he or his grandmother or grandfather have links with any of the dead or alive Maoists in any of the so called Naxal belts? Did he take part in the farmer protest meets at the borders of the capital city, New Delhi? Did he cry aloud against the CAA- NRC- NPR? Did he insist for a re-investigation into the Delhi pogrom of 2020 and the Gujarat pogrom of 2002, as the political masterminds and also the foot soldiers are seen roaming around, all too freely? Did he dare point out that in the pogroms, the poor victims are shown as culprits, with the actual killers going about untouched? Did he question why the cops are not arresting the communal hate-speech givers? Did he of late travel to Canada or China and by any remote chance come across or even stray past any of the international rebels? Did he get critical of any of the Hindutva gangs or goons hovering around, making life hell for the hapless? Did he raise his voice at the lynch killers, unleashed by the political mafia of the day? Above all, he did try convert the poor lonely soul, from a this to that religion, along the so called Love Jihad strain?

Towards the end or even midway the grilling session, the lonely Indian will be so fed up with the questioning, cry aloud and beg to be left all alone! To be spared these onslaughts of today’s political ways or sways.

Yes, though there’s denying that loneliness could be as lethal as cancer or corona but, here, on the social circuit we don’t want to talk about any of the emotional realities. All seems to be going all okay! Its only when the situation crosses the bearable boundaries then cries for help can be heard. Who is there to hear those cries! No one! For till date nobody gives a damn to loneliness!

If even a minister of Loneliness gets installed, do you think he will reach out to the lonely Indian! After all, don’t we have ministers for women and children, and also for the supposed welfare of the minorities and also for the several other disadvantaged groups and communities, and yes also for the farmers, industrial workers and mazdoors, and above all, for the collective health of all! But see the dismal conditions prevailing all around! Needless to lace out the details to the ongoing rapes and lynch killings, together with the hounding of those who dare defy the Sarkari ploys of the day!

Can any of the victims or their kin dare raise their voice against the political mafia or for that matter against any of the mantris and santris and the thanedars and subedars, and the administrative machinery under their control!

The dark reality is this: hundreds of lonely Indians die unsung and prematurely even in those joint family setups or even in those beemaru marriages! Yes, in those fake useless marriages which are made to drag on for the sake of the so many sakes!


Just about a fortnight away, all those typical women’s day announcements are doing the rounds. Have had enough of the typical stale stuff. Its about time we look into the conditions in which the women inmates survive in the jails and prisons across the country. Have there been studies and research undertaken to look into the emotional and physical and psychological well-being of our women prisoner?

And if one were to broaden the sphere and ask, how does the entire imprisoned population survives…in what conditions? Men and women languishing in there for years at a stretch. Most of them under-trials, so technically innocent, yet so many years of their lives so very completely wasted. Also, don’t overlook the new trend, whereby in riots and pogroms it could be the very victims who are paraded as dangai-rioters- culprits! Double or triple whammy for them as they sit with a nothingness clutched to them!

What’s becoming of us, with these bizarre happenings. With the arrests and detentions of even the innocent, dark times getting darker by the day.


Leaving you with these lines of Akbar Hussain Akbar Allahabadi, tucked in the volume, ‘Celebrating the best of Urdu Poetry’ by Khushwant Singh and Kamna Prasad (Penguin):

My rivals have lodged complaints against me in police stations for
the crime
That Akbar continues to take the name of God in the present age
and time.

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