Sunday, February 20, 2011
When Rape Equals a Cigarette - Kasha
The February 7th issue of the Telegraph has covered the issue of the tobacco ban in Bhutan and the monk Sonam Tshering’s arrest. Their take on it was “Violators – smugglers of tobacco products or people smoking in public – can be jailed from three to five years – the same punishment that will be meted out to a rapist.”
If I were an Indian who went through this piece, I would probably opt for molesting or raping a Bhutanese girl rather than risk smoking in Bhutan. Poor guy, he has become the guinea pig. The stage is set. The rest of the people are watching to see just how severely he will be dealt with so they can determine just how serious our government is about the ban. The rest of us need to be made to realize just how unnecessarily true these laws are. He is in handcuffs because he was ignorant of government legislations. Because he was ignorant and because he ‘smuggled’ tobacco, he is evil – really evil, spectacularly evil, so evil that he deserves nothing short of being tainted for life as the monk who got what he deserved. I bet in jail, the monks who pummeled their colleague to death a couple of months ago will be laughing at him.
In the past, religion was the only means of controlling a community; we had a social order based on a single religious view shared by those in the same community. Now, even men of religion are behind bars; I mean Sonam Tshering is someone who I would have prostrated to (at least during Rimdros and Chhokus) a couple of days prior to his arrest. Now, ours is a more reasonable faith. Even monks and lams shall be dealt with without mercy by the law if they make the fatal mistake of exposing themselves to tobacco toxins. This is just how fast times are changing. Ok let’s forget the rhetoric…all things have boiled down to the fact that the sole purpose of our religion is to provide moral support for people who have nothing. So we can seek solace in the fact that at least Sonam has religion to turn to when he is in the dumps (which I am pretty much sure that he is).
And the recent spate of fires that we had, I would attribute it to the fact that since we are no longer allowed to smoke in the town areas, people are heading to the forests to smoke and discarding the cigarette butts carelessly.
The whole past couple of months have been a delusion. I don’t see why people have to bother to take drugs anymore. The kids in Mongar wouldn’t have to be chemically conducted to hack their adversary to bits. Why would one need to hallucinate when reality itself has become a hallucination? Let’s face facts. If one was locked up in a psych ward with no one around and no stimuli, these rules and laws are exactly what that person would come up with. Here is how I imagine the case scenario to be when these laws originated. One of the policy makers got up and said, “I’ve got a really bad idea, let’s ban cigarettes.” And another one of his colleagues immediately jumped to his feet saying “And I am gonna make it shittier, let’s imprison the ones who defy the ban.”
Here is what happens when one tries too hard to interfere in matters that one is not supposed to. Let me relate an incident about what happened to my grandma a couple of days ago. We had gone to Lobesa to spend the weekend together as a family. While at Lobesa, we came across an Indian dude walking back to his makeshift kitchen with a chicken under his arm and his intentions were far from honorable. My grandma, being the religiously inclined woman that she is, begged, cried and pleaded with him to spare the life of the poor chicken which seemed bound by destiny to end up in that dude’s stomach. But he was adamant, and refused to relent. But my grandma persisted and eventually her persistence paid off; she managed to rescue the chicken from his clutches by paying him 800 rupees. She was ecstatic. She had saved a life which otherwise was doomed to extinction. But her glory was short-lived. The very afternoon we spotted him limbering towards kitchen once again and this time with a brilliant sparkle in his eyes. And the reason? He now had two chickens under his arms. He had used the money that he got for selling my grandma that one chicken to buy another two. In trying to save one, my grandma had sealed the fate of two.
As of now, there is little that we can do other than lament the fact that despite full knowledge (those at the helm of affairs are more than aware of what is actually going on), it does not lead to consciousness and neither does it lead to wisdom let alone reforms.