Ekta -The Talk Show- Ep 1

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the first episode of our monthly Talk Show, Ekta! I’m Shubhang Mishra, your host for today.

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

Ekta (एकता) is Sanskrit for oneness- unity. The ideal state of existence and the way we were and are meant to be. At times, our profound diversity and differences challenge our harmony and misdirect our synergy. Ekta is the show for us to talk, listen and empathise with those whose stories are real, yet often unheard. Ekta is here for us to put our differences aside and UNITE!

We have with us today, two very special guests. Let’s welcome Amarpreet Kaur and Mohan Kumar with a round of applause! Our translator for today is scholar and multilingual, Farida Yasmin Sultana.

Mohan and Amarpreet, please take your seats and tell us all about yourselves- Your profession, upbringing, ambitions, just anything about yourselves that we’d be interested to know.

Amarpreet: Hello, I’m Amarpreet Kaur, I was born in Punjab and raised in Delhi. I have recently established my own startup, Techfast, a software solutions company and it has taken off on a high note. I grew up in an orthodox Sikh community. My parents always prioritised my education. I graduated from IIM with a degree in management. I also happen to be a state level badminton player.

Mohan: I’m Mohan Kumar. I am 60 years old and I come from Marudhampatti, a remote village in Tamil Nadu. Our village is hidden from the chaos of the modern world so perfectly that this is my first time in a city! I come from a very looked down, disadvantaged caste. We are barbers by profession. My ancestors, my descendants, all my siblings and cousins are barbers. We shave off the corpse’s hair during the last rites and cremate them. Because of our ancestral association with dead bodies, we are seen as unlucky and untouchables.

Amarpreet: That sounds pathetic! Your story reminds us that the worst is still alive in some places. Having grown up in a city, casteism is something I don’t get to see every day. Never have I taken the time to realise that there are villages as remote as yours which keep the flame burning. Could you tell me more about your village and this casteism?

Mohan: My village is highly impoverished and away from everyone’s eye, including the government’s. We do not even have lights in our houses and we use oil lamps at night. There are 2 toilets for the entire village and they are reserved solely for the upper caste men. Time and again, when our girls used them at night secretly, they were thrashed and embarrassed publicly. It is customary for us to not pass by the front door of upper caste men’s houses. We can only pass from behind. We do not look them in the eye directly.

Amarpreet: This is terrible indeed! Sounds like a travel back in time. Has education brought any improvement to areas such as yours?

Mohan: Education is a luxury. There is one primary school in our village. For higher education, we must send our children to town. Upper caste men may afford to do so, but not us. Education is not a necessity for girls, especially. They must learn to excel in household chores and marry their cousins by 15 or 16. We cannot marry outside our caste. If we do, they would kill us for honour. By the way, how old are you?

Amarpreet: I’m 30 years old.

Mohan: How many children do you have?

Amarpreet: I am not married.

Mohan: How undignified! In our village, having many children is so valuable that it compensates for one’s lower status in the hierarchy. Since I have 7 children, I’m not as looked down as my counterparts with 2-3 children. By your age, a woman must be married with children. Tradition is important, rural or urban. We accept our occupation, our way of living, because it runs in our veins. It’s our tradition! The upper caste men, the Chettiars deserve to live better than us because it has always been like that. No one can change that. It’s like you city folks have lost your identity completely. You don’t know what it is to struggle in your lavish city life!

Amarpreet: Sir, do not invalidate anyone’s struggle. You said this yourself- I am considered undignified for making a choice not to marry. As a villager, you don’t have the luxury of education. As a woman, I don’t have the luxury of choice! I have to live the way the society wants me to. I face more societal pressure than my male counterparts. I have always considered it my duty to serve the world in any way I can without getting tied down by family life. As a woman, my work is neither recognised as much as a man’s, nor appreciated. I started my own company so I don’t have a man ruling my life. I am a survivor of workplace abuse and if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from that traumatic experience, it is that a woman can ESCAPE. She can fly away from trauma and create her own life. Yet, no one believes this. The society doesn’t allow a woman to be the maker of her own life.

Mohan: I suppose we all have our own struggles. It may vary in intensity and nature, but it is a struggle nevertheless. Thanks for teaching me this! I always believed that city folks lived the life of a dream.

Amarpreet: Sometimes I wish I lived in a village, away from fast-paced, mechanical life. In the city, it is a test of who can run the farthest without burning out. We burn out everyday, physically, mentally and spiritually. Often, I forget to eat a meal. After all, urban or rural, we all strive for that one thing- that food on our plate. But you have taught me that it comes with immense challenges to live in those unwalked lands. What we believe to be dead here in the city is something you live with. It is saddening that people live without respect and are conditioned to believe that it is okay.

Mohan and Amarpreet, we are nearing the end of the show. Is there anything you would like to say to the audience?

Mohan: Never invalidate anyone’s struggle. I’d also like to say that oppression in the name of tradition doesn’t make it less evil.

Amarpreet: Discrimination of all forms are still very much alive. Look around closely, you may actually see it happening right under your nose! When it does, be sure to confront and make some noise against it. You and I can erase it from history.

Thank you very much, Mohan and Amarjeet! It was a pleasure having you with us today. You personified Ekta in the truest sense! Ladies and gentleman, hope you enjoyed our talk show today. See you next month with another interesting topic and another fascinating set of people to share their true stories. Signing off, Shubhang Mishra!

49 thoughts on “Ekta -The Talk Show- Ep 1

  1. Very engaging interview, I must say. It’s often uncanny how I have conversations that relate with the posts I see. The caste system, for example, exemplifies stratification birthed from unjust methods. But the take-home of this interview “Never invalidate anyone’s struggle. I’d also like to say that oppression in the name of tradition doesn’t make it less evil,” was absolutely spot on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you touched upon these two issues still so prevalent in a country with growing economic growth.
    While I believe education has reached a lot of Indians but education also hasn’t been able to change centuries old ideology of casteism. :/
    As for women 🤷🏽‍♀️ *sigh* Things seem to be improving at snail speed.
    Beautifully written. 👏🏼

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you soooo very much, dearest friend, for taking the time to read and comment! 😀 Living in a tier 1 city, the only thing close to casteism I’ve ever experienced is when people mock my Brahmin Slang (in all regions, Brahmins seem to have their own dialect with more words from Sanskrit), my vegetarianism and some of my practices. But I’ve never got offended by that. I joke about it with them. I was shocked to hear this story. Mohan is based on a real character. People in villages have learned to live with it and don’t see it as wrong anymore. It’s however promising to note that the younger generations have woken up. Thanks again for reading! 🙏

      Like

  3. Wow, I think if the village is modernized, the caste system and many other social ills will disappear naturally. The thing is modernization is slow to spread to remote places, where people live in their traditional ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very well said! I’ve visited some remote villages and it feels like a travel back in time. They live in their own world abd perhaps, timeline. Thanks a lot for taking the time to read! 🙏😀

      Like

  4. Inspiring. Injustice and discrimination, as well as abuse is so chronic and prevalence, many accepted is as normal when it’s not. It’s never easy to be that person who unturned what’s wrong but it’s that action that will set us free.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m just reading the book by rohinton A fine balance and it talks about the caste system. It is so frustrating that even after all these years the reality remains the same for so many people. Especially in rural areas

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. Right from the name ‘Ekta’, the ironical name, interview discussing the most important like discrimination, untouchability, the work pressure, darker sides of being a woman employee, illiteracy, validation of ill-treatment, disrespect, urban life’s problem and everything!!!

    Validating the trauma is still happening everywhere calling it a fate and living through it, is the worser part. Such people suppress the ones who gather courage and tries his/her best to come out the trap they are caught in.

    You are a wise girl!! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you soooo much, dearest friend! Thanks for taking the time to read it and coming back to leave this beautiful comment. You summed that up very well! This, basically is the essence of the post. Thank you so much! 🙏🙏🤍🤍

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Dear Sahana, your writing is so very mature. As I have said earlier too once, the topics you choose are something that everyone needs to talk about. Beautiful idea, love the execution as well.
    Just one thing to add, what you have covered are very obvious struggles. We need to be aware that gender inequality can happen at a dinner table in a very rich family too. Similarly, casteism too can be very subtle. Using separate utensils for househelp being one example. It’s not about cities and villages. While villages have bigger problems, sadly educated city people think they are above everyone else.
    Sorry got carried away, I feel very strongly on this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Comments like yours are so enriching and help me know where I can do better. For that reason, thank you sooo sooo very much! 🙏 Don’t be apologetic for getting “carried away”. It’s necessary to talk about it. The subtle hints are a great example! I’ll think of more points to write next time. This time, I just wanted to keep it crisp without increasing its reading time. There’s a lot more that could have gone it to it, I feel that too. Anyway, thanks a lot for taking the time to read and giving your highly insightful comment!!🙏😁🤍

      Liked by 1 person

  9. That’s an another excellent idea of bringing the burning issue into the picture Samsahana. You got a great talent to expose the righteous things in place which truly need a real change. Most of us know these differences are still alive every where in the city n in the village as well. Of course in villages it’s still worst to see such scenarios but by birth they have been grinded into our minds n hard to realize and accept it. Be blessed dear one!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This is such a unique post and I was captivated throughout!!! I love this idea and style of writing and you executed it perfectly! The different stories and perspectives were so intriguing to read! Amazingly done, my friend! I absolutely love this 🖤🖤

    Liked by 2 people

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  13. Wow, listening to Mohan made me want to cry so hard!
    How sad and horrible this world is…
    It is my hope that such discriminations in the world get to be called by their real name; evil, so that nobody is taught to normalise them ever again!
    I really Loved Mohan’s take away at the end; oppression in the form of tradition doesn’t make it less evil.
    That’s very true. No body is less of a human being than the next person and the world should learn to treat everyone with utmost respect!
    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing a descent job that puts food on the table, no matter what kind it is.

    Thank you so much Sahana for most insightful talk show. I look forward to more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey! Thank you so much, my friend, for taking the time to read this! That’s such a nice thought. Any job that puts food on the table is good enough. At the end of the day, that is what we all need. Thank you so so very much for taking the time to read and comment! 🙏
      PS: Hope you’re having a nice time in India 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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