Monday, June 27, 2011
Police, Kiss and Sex in Kerala
I cannot imagine the officers (including the constables who are seen often in the streets) in the Kerala Police Department are a ruthless lot. I don’t imagine that they live in a zombie land where pecking, touching and kissing do not happen between human beings (I don’t say between male and female because why can’t a male and male kiss or a female and female kiss?)
In fact when the same sex people kiss (yes, the real French kiss where lips dissolve in tongues and vice versa) it means more than just love and carnal instincts or mindless passion. It could be an experiment in the basic forms and in a sublime state it could be the highest form of surety and protection.
I remember Whoopie Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey kissing in Spilberg’s Color Purple (written by Alice Walker). One cannot forget because the kind of sense of security they impart with each other in that one deep kiss. Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das are reported to have kissed in one scene in ‘Fire’. I have not watched the movie.
I have kissed a male. How was it? You may ask. Hmm... it tasted a bit forced and salty. The pre-kiss trepidation would give way to a post-kiss tenderness. You feel like muscle-less.
I am talking about the feelings of a hetero-sexual while kissing a person from the same sex.
Human beings are made as homosexuals. But then once they progressed in time they became heterosexuals. More than being homosexual, human beings are great masturbators. I watch children pleasuring themselves without knowing that they are pleasuring themselves. It is natural. And having homosexual encounters during childhood and teenage and much later when you are alone with a male friend also prove that human beings are born homosexuals.
Freud had written several tomes to analyse and justify all these fundamental characters of human beings (the unfortunate thing was that he proved anything out of heterosexual sex was a form of illness and aberration, which could be corrected). Europe and later America took Freud seriously and started pumping people with electric shocks and torture machines to correct them. Thank God, they were the first to realize the folly too. With Lacan, Foucault and later with Zizek, now they are a cool lot.
Globalized India is the problem today. India do not allow couples to kiss in public. If at all they do it is seen as a shame. Gay pride is accepted now legally and constitutionally still India hums and haws at the very mentioning of it.
While kissing a male friend (I remember it was in 2003 October) I was trying to prove a point. What was the problem in kissing a male in public? Friends, including my wife cheered me. (Wives will have problem only when their husbands go on a kissing spree with women or they take their challenges too seriously and become a serious convert to the new religion).
In fact, my passion for digression is quite evident here. You may ask why I started off with a reference to the Kerala Police and then went on talking about homosexuality and kissing.
The case is different. I recently came to know about an issue of a young woman in Kerala, working in the IT industry facing harassment from the hands of the Kerala Police for travelling with her male friend by bike at a certain hour of the day or night.
I am unclear about this issue because I searched for details in google and it did not yield much result. The facebookians were so vehement in their passionate protests against the police that most of them forgot to give the finer details of the issue.
So what I know is this: Tesni Banu, a young IT professional was going by bike with her male friend, police stopped them and harassed them. Charge against them was very grave- immoral activities.
This is the same State (Kerala), God’s own country at the southern tip of our incredible India where girls are raped at home by their fathers (not foster fathers but biological fathers), only to be sold to a series of pimps and raped by people including politicians, film stars and many more important people. Many end up in committing suicide. Many end up in mental asylums. Many simply vanish. Many end up in brothels. Many end up in hospitals. A few speak up from their deathbeds and the egalitarian state of Kerala makes it sure that the girl does not speak again.
This is the state where there is 100% literacy, health care and life standard at par with New York City.
If the Police stop a couple and charge them with immoral activities, one should not take it for the moral uprightness of the state and its police. Instead, it shows the weakness of the state, its people and its law and order system.
Left wing or right wing or left of the centre rules Kerala, it remains to be so.
In no state in the world Police officials are treated as friends. Britain seems to have a street police force that is people friendly. Police force is meant for people’s protection. But in India we have a police force that has been turning fast into an anti-people militia supported by the state.
That’s why Arundhati Roy says, in the fight against the Maoists, states help their police to become an army and army a police force.
So we have a militarized police force in place.
But my question is what makes a police force militarized? Can’t the individuals within the force think differently? I am not naive to think that such people do not exist and also I am not naive to believe that any organized force is meant for the exercise of individual whims. Police is an ideological apparatus of the state.
It is meant for imposition and control of and by power. Police are expected obey and execute the orders of the ruling authorities. As a force, both the government (read rulers) and the police are abstract notions. They find their escape through abstractions of law and order.
But the individual within the force is a concrete entity. Once divested of the uniform, he is just another person. When he is out of his official skin, he is just another citizen with no special authority on anything.
But going by the general feel, we have created a cultural outlook towards the ideological apparatuses of the state including the Police. Police are a corrupt force. Our films tell us so, the constables are invariably hooligans or morons. Either they extort money from the hapless people or they extort laughter from the onlookers. Police (both good and bad cops) could kill people. They are never booked by the law of the land. They become law unto themselves. So we believe in their omnipotent status. So none takes panka with the Police.
That’s why the noted activist and artist in China Ai Wei Wei says that a person who hits a police (man) is either out of his mind or a fool with death wish (not exactly the same words). But a mob is a different entity. Like police, mob is also an abstraction.
But what about those individual police men who patrol the streets? Could they be just maniacs and fundamentalists in uniform? How could they get offended by seeing a man and woman on a motorbike, even if it is at the dead of night?
Let me talk about the Kerala Police.
There was a time when we thought the police mean a gang of thugs in uniform. They were pot bellied uncouth rogues who could fill (given a chance) a thousand pages of Wikipedia with a expletives. They drank, raped and extorted money. As they drank and raped and extorted money, we thought the governments also did the same. And the movies confirmed our fears.
Then we grew up. We saw the Police force changing in Kerala. There was a time when people used to say when one gets no job and one does not have education beyond seventh standard he could get a job in Kerala Police. So the hooliganism could have been justified. What else you would expect from a guy who is just a school drop-out, phenomenally lazy and with confusing ideas about the Police as imparted by the then movies? He would obviously become corrupt and bawdy.
Today, the scene is different. Thanks to the higher literacy standards, the young men and women applying for a job in the Police Department have higher degrees; most of them are graduates and post graduates. If you find a PhD holder amongst cops in Kerala, you wouldn’t be surprised. Most of them come to this job while giving tests and interviews for other jobs. A small state like Kerala could not afford too many people in non-Police departments. So the less fortunate ones opt for a cop’s job, if not a bus conductor’s job with the state transport department.
Interestingly, most of them, before they become cops obviously have gone through different experiences (that too most beautiful and dreamy ones) in life. They teach in tutorial colleges where you get an ample amount of time to flirt with young girls and boys. They get enough time to spend time with their friends in the village squares or city recreation joints. They watch movies with friends, visit libraries, give hope to their girl friends, fall in love again and again, steal kisses and so on.
I had a friend, extremely humorous and intelligent and we used to spend our evenings in a gang at the village square. He used to teach in parallel colleges. He taught Economics. One day he became police cop. After a couple of years, he told me that he dropped that job as he got selected to the finance department of the state government.
Exceptions are not rules or the other way round. But how can you expect a guy like my friend stopping a couple in the middle of the road and charging them with immoral activities?
There is something fundamentally rotten in our system (especially the policing system) if our young police men are behaving like this.
Is it frustration? I don’t think an average middle class guy (or even a lower middle class guy) who becomes a police cop is frustrated in the case of sex, money or status. I am talking about Kerala.
Then what prompts him to do this? His power? What is the maximum power a police constable could get in a society like Kerala? He won’t be even allowed to jump a queue in a film theatre or beverages corporation vends. Is he prompted by the moral underpinnings of man woman relationship? What has gone wrong with him?
Let me take the case of my generation. I have a few friends in the Police Department in Kerala. They are all married, settled and have sired boys and girls. They don’t look like corrupt cops who could stop a girl and harass in the middle of the road just for being with her male friend.
None of them look like the stereotypical cops. Many of them are ardent fans of light music and gazals. Some are stamp collectors. Some collect and read books. Some people have terrific knowledge about international films. Some do gardening during their leisure time.
One day I was walking along a street in a town in Kerala. Someone came by a motorbike and started following me. He was wearing a helmet and I could not make out who he was. He stopped the bike in front of me and started tickling me. I was angered, embarrassed and felt really funny in middle of the road. Then he removed his helmet and lo....M (name), my school mate and close pal. He was the gun man of the Governor of Kerala State.
Both of us were forty years old when he tickled me in the middle of the road.
How can I expect such warm people could do such things to their own brothers and sisters in their own land?
If they do, they need treatment. They are sick people. They should be quarantined and counselled.
If the Police force as a whole in Kerala is sick, then it should be disbanded and called for new recruits with sophisticated attitude, good education and with a lot of sense of fun.