Dear Barkha – Write for Yourself

This is an overdue retort to the September 11, 2020 at 7:07 p.m. EDT in the Washington Post – Rhea Chakraborty’s saga is a lesson in how India loves to hate women. I’ve personally admired you since dreaming of being journalist myself but could not, because my parents and I were not as insatiable as you and yours. The day the subject article was printed, my regard for you went from admiration to embarrassment. No, I am not chagrinned of you yet and neither are hundreds of my friends who have been following you flounce at your opportuneness in the Sushant Singh Rajput case.

I am not aware of who all you epitomize but I feel insulted at your representation for all of us in India and Indians abroad. Rhea Chakraborty’s saga could be whatever you want to call it, but it is unquestionably not a shared sentiment that Indians love to hate women. Allow me to remind you that we had come out into the streets, on social media and raised the world’s biggest uproar during Nirbhaya, we went to movies like ‘Chappak’, the story of an acid survivor, ‘Thappad’, about domestic ferocity, and yet again millions of us are supporting the four Sushant Singh Rajput’s sisters, who are women too and who you’ve discriminatorily preferred to pay no attention to.

And I particularly take fault that you are not even talking about Disha Salian who is alleged to be raped and flung out from her Fiancé’s apartment – per what’s available in public domain. It is also being said, she was unclothed with external and internal wounds, both pre and post death. Yet, you selected to declare in your opening statement, “A misogynistic television witch hunt of a young female actor is showing just how much we in India love to hate our women.” Why are you choosing to be on the side of one and not on the side of other, two of who are not alive today? Is this misogyny or your way of demonstrating editorial shrewdness on behalf of influential cabals or is it your benevolence of smashing patriarchy?

You also said, “Since then, 28-year-old Chakraborty has been blamed for his death. She has been called everything from a gold digger to a murderer. She has been accused of smiling too much or too little. She has been judged for everything from not loving Rajput enough to smothering him with so much love that it drove him away from his parents.” How nice of you to paint a prey sketch, snubbing the fact that a 75-year old father and four women lost their darling son and brother. Perhaps, you don’t feel compassion towards the dead, but yet you are quick to jump on the bandwagon of the accused, true to your image of always endorsing the ‘exclusive’ underdogs. After all, despite starting off righteous yourself, seems like the middle-class India doesn’t fall on your radar of introspection.

None of us are rebuffing the fact that there are other matters that need focus; “India’s near-war situation with China, or even on India overtaking Brazil on covid-19 cases.” But we are being human just like you are. You picked to inscribe about Rhea Chakraborty on an American Daily. If this your way of displaying to the millions of Indian-Americans who are supporting the SSR cause that we shall noiselessly consent – please note that we do not. We condemn your pusillanimity to not be on the right side of history and blossom in controversy. If you feel that a woman has been irrationally beleaguered, please write about Fardeen Khan, Salman Khan or Sanjay Dutt getting away from monstrous criminalities. We will stand with you. Kindly don’t make a blanket statement on “how differently we respond to scandals depending on if the person at the center is a man or woman.”

“Then the channels went on to essentially suggest that Rajput had been killed and Chakraborty was responsible for murder. Chakraborty made for the perfect villain, as the media essentially traded cruel sexism in exchange for ratings.” If you are indicating that she is not blamable for the murder or is not the anti-hero that the media is saying she is – the exposés that need to come from her are rather simple. All she has to do is collaborate with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), deliver all the actualities as quizzed, face the family and come clean. Unless, you are saying that the CBI, which is premier investigative authority in the country is also compromised.

In case of Talwar case, you recollected that it was similar to Chakraborty’s where the mother did not act according a natural predetermined reaction of a mother at her daughter’s slaying. And you indicated that just because she did not conduct herself like that, the Indian media went berserk against her. I am not sure if you have kids of your own. I don’t but I still cry heartbrokenly at my embryos being ‘aneuploid’. If you had seen the 75-year old father of SSR, you wouldn’t talk about what is customary and what is not. One thing is clear, you have the flair of gossip but sadly, you are a hoodwinked with your own vague philosophies.

“Rajput did drugs has been blamed on her”, “Media mob has ignored the fact that Rajput may have been battling serious mental health issues.” No one has said that SSR is flawless or could have taken drugs or could’ve been combatting psychological problems. In fact, since Chakraborty has your enduring support, can you inculcate some sense into her to help piecing the puzzles together? She seems to be a very sensible woman with the best of educational and social background. All it takes is one truth to put all conjectures and so-called tribunals to a practical culmination. Depression is a grave subject not just in India but around the world. But this case is not apposite to drive that schema, at least till we know how Salian and SSR died. It is not about ‘bashing a female antagonist than have a complex conversation about mental health in India.’ It is about solving a double homicide.

When you said, “The armchair vilification of Chakraborty may seem like an outlier event. In reality, this could be the fate for any woman whom India decides it no longer likes,” it generated so much bitterness towards Indians (especially in America) that is becomes hard to undo that kind of damage.  With your kind of words, we are constrained to live with fabricated standing and perpetual justification that ‘we’, Indians are not the people you write from your own inner rancor. So, the next time you choose to put pen to paper, in your undignified pursuit to express liberally, kindly do not write for all of us – just write for yourself.

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