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An Open Letter To Celebrities Of My Country – OpEd

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Whether Actors, Sportspersons, Socialites, Simply the Rich or the Ones who occupy Social and other Media Space for no specific reason…

I am not exactly a spokesperson for the masses. However, for lack of choice, they seem to have selected me to complete this task of informing you about a few things that they strongly feel you should know.

First, the masses don’t care about you, your private lives, your psychological problems, the men or women you might be dating, your views on education, politics or public life – things that don’t remotely concern you. The thing that is particularly nerve-racking is to watch your private lives paraded in full public view. What is annoying is that all of this is shoved down the throats of ordinary people and they are made to look like voyeurs prying into your private lives. You’ll be surprised to know that the common masses have much more interesting lives which cannot be captured by any sitcom or film. You wouldn’t want to know how boring your life is compared to theirs. Stop devouring their time which they should be giving to their families and themselves. Stop imagining that just because you got money, power and influence you also have an interesting life. On the contrary, poor boys and girls from slums and ghettos know how to enjoy the time at their disposal because they live at the edge. They may have little but they are not short of ideas on how best to have fun.

Second, your kids! 

About 47 babies are born every minute in this country. Your baby happens to be one of the 47, whether you like it or not. There is absolutely no reason on earth why your baby should be any more special than the other 46 babies born in the same minute. If at all they are special, they are special to you, because you are their parents. Likewise, with every other child born in this country. My sincere plea is that you do not impose your thoughts and feelings about your children on the parents of the remaining 67,384 kids who share their birthday with your child. Parents love their children everywhere. Parental love is one of the most profound of human afflictions, that can make or break people. That’s how nature designed humankind: that children should be a source of unending happiness. You don’t have to make a demonstration of it and flood the media with pictures of your kids and yourselves. Seriously, we don’t need them. 

Kids are cute everywhere when they are well taken care of. If your kids look a little more likeable than countless other kids born in the villages and slums of the cities, it is only because you have something that they do not have: money and privilege. Don’t you think it is a wee bit sickening when you want to show off your wealth and privilege in the form of your children, while you take a sadistic pleasure in expecting others to watch in envy! I personally think that it’s pretty sickening and wouldn’t do it if I were you. Be a little thoughtful and considerate towards those who are less privileged than you. As the moving poem by Brecht says:

“You who bear your sons in laundered linen sheets, And call your pregnancies a ‘blessed’ state, Should never damn the outcast and the weak” 

Third, we are not interested in the cars you ride, the people you socialize with, the cost of your handbags, how much you love your partners, where or who you are holidaying or shopping with at this point, your silly tweets or what is happening with you on Instagram. Every time you have a breakup or something unpleasant is happening to you, you don’t have to make a request asking us to respect your privacy. To begin with, we couldn’t care less about the breakup or makeup. It’s your problem. Deal with it like everyone else. So the question of violating your privacy doesn’t arise at all. If at all there is some curiosity it is because your paid buddies in the media keep imposing you on us, virtually badgering us with images of your unbelievably banal lives. Stop paying your publicity agents to do the advertising and trust me we won’t even remember that you exist. 

You please respect my privacy. Don’t you think that it is fair on my part to ask you that I should not have to think of you each day of my life! Because your life is an empty and barren one, do I have to pay for it by listening and watching and thinking about you, though I have countless more important things to do. You don’t respect my feelings or the fact that I am entitled to have some free internet time for myself and that I don’t have to see you everywhere. If you had the slightest respect for my need to be alone, you would stop paying your publicity agents and thus prevent them from bothering me without any consideration for my individuality.

Fourth, another horror I wish to bring to your attention, which also reflects the malady of conspicuous consumption, are your weddings. The vulgar pomp and show are painful for those who are barely able to get a couple of square meals a day. If there is one thing that should have only a few people in attendance, that’s a wedding. In our country where marriages largely are a sham, the weddings tend to be excessively colorful. Unfortunately, almost every Indian film ends with a marriage. Any serious film should begin with a marriage: that’s where the interesting parts lie: the deception, the boredom, the cheating, the violence, in fact the seeds of fascism are born out of those loveless marriages resulting in loveless families and loveless neighborhoods. 

The thing I often wonder is whether you realize or not that life is short when you come to think about it. But as human beings we invest and reinvest in other human beings in order to ensure that as a species we survive the battle against nature; that future generations will live in cleaner environments; that they will not have to give their loyalty to unscrupulous elements merely for survival; that they will not be seduced by or submit to anything other than real human feelings. If you cared for those unborn children a little bit, you would do something to alleviate the sufferings of the weakest of the weak. It doesn’t seem like they exist in your imagination for a single moment in a day. 

In Nazim Hikmet’s epic poem Human Landscapes from my Country there is a doctor, exactly like you, who is someone who means no harm to anyone, but looks at life from a philosophical distance as years that are passing by. He has a lot of leisure and needs to fill it until the very end. In other words, nothing is meaningful to him because in the end we die anyway. The doctor who works for the police enters into a dialogue with a revolutionary in prison, and asks the latter his views on death.  

Halil, the revolutionary who is going blind, responds: “You have the time and chance to think a lot?”

Doctor: “Don’t you?”

Halil: “Sure, I have that privilege, too.”

Doctor: What do you mean ‘privilege’?

Halil: “’Privilege’ means this, Faik Bey:

            the woman you just operated on,

            who you yourself just said

Hasn’t even dreamed of sleeping past dawn,

                                    this Dumel’s wife

                                    and Dumel himself

And most of the people in our country and on earth

Don’t have the satisfaction of thinking a lot.

They don’t have the time or chance.

They work so hard and get so tired

            that when they fall into bed at night – even at sixty –

sleep descends on them like lead.

…And when they think,

They think of life’

            not death…”

Of course the doctor is persistent and asks Halil, what, if the poor had the time and opportunity to think a lot. Halil responds that the poor wouldn’t think about death the same way that the doctor did. And then he adds: “because you are alone in life/ you are alone in death.” 

To be attached to life is to live in a way that is meaningful for others and not just for one’s own self. That attachment shows in opening the doors for others to be a part of one’s life and likewise to play a role in the lives of those very others. You cannot have so much that it ends up creating people who are in need. Since wealth cannot be owned except in the head, instead of amassing it without respect for nature or people, to distribute it is a healthy way to live. Disease and social unrest cannot be controlled by force. Like the tsunami they will engulf everyone irrespective of their social positions. A more sensible alternative is to create a just and humane society where people do not have to kill each other out of greed or envy. If you are alone in life and have to compensate for it by being a celebrity, it also means that you are alone in death.   

I am sure that you are wondering why the masses wanted me to tell you these things, when they could’ve done it by themselves. Unfortunately, the people of my country (I’ll stop referring to them as “masses”) have neither the time nor the privilege to talk to you. In fact, they barely have any time left to spend with themselves, let alone with their families and friends. Since I happen to be among the slightly privileged group with some time at my disposal, it was I who volunteered to do this job for them. 

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Prakash Kona

Prakash Kona is a writer, teacher and researcher who lives in Hyderabad, India. He is Professor at the Department of English Literature, The English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad.

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