Are We Equal? by Ravneet Sangha

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I stumbled upon a Pakistani play; yes yes I am not supposed to watch them, as I am an Indian. And, we are in a state of war with them since 1947 and will remain so till we obliterate each other. It’s a strange kind of love and hate relationship we have with them, we can’t live with them, we can’t live without them and we have the worst sporting rivalry with them. It so happens that one of my best friends lives across the border and we constantly WhatsApp each other all day long being normal friends, the only difference being that we live two hours apart and can’t meet each other as visas get denied. Pakistan and India are the two Punjabi rishtedaars who are fighting over a common piece of land but so entwined with each other that they share everything. We welcome each other with open arms and literally spread the red carpet when they come to Punjab and vice versa. The bonhomie and the hospitality are unbelievable and you have to witness it to assimilate it.

The play is Ranjha Ranjha Kardi and in the opening episode has a scene where a lower caste girl is being taught how to read the prayers from the holy book Quran. So, the village women are upset as she is made to sit with their children and learn the right way. The teacher who is imparting the knowledge says the book is made for all and nowhere did the Prophet say that they couldn’t read it and by merely touching it; it wouldn’t become unclean. All our religion profess this, all the saints say this, that we are all one, the impurity does not lie in the hands, it is not the work that makes one small or unclean. It is the mind that is impure and the thoughts that make us unclean. When are we going to get rid of these shackles? I am not saying we here in Punjab are better or superior, trust me we face the same problems. We all have bigger problems at hand and enumerating them is another story. When we start treating each other as humans and as one, not divide each other on caste, colour, creed, sex, nationality we would truly inherit this earth. Imagine, we need to make laws to allow people to be with each other, be it same-sex marriages or inter-caste marriages. On the rise are lynchings, tolerance is ending, suspicions are on the rise and we ridicule each other just on the basis of caste. The words of the play really resonate in my mind and I faced the same situation when some women in my village objected to my teaching children in the evening school, they took their kids out and didn’t let them come back. The problem being that why were the lower caste children sitting with them. I wonder, where does it say on their faces that they are different? Dividing each other on the basis of color which is just melanin and the caste that was all man made is so regressive.

We all breathe the same air, maybe I could start giving bubbles so that they can breathe the pure rarified air! A pure race never led to any advancement, purity lies in the mind and that is the source of all.

Ravneet Sangha

Ravneet Sangha