Scapegoats or Sport, this Sankranti

Those were Pongal holidays for our school. We were not sent to our grandpa’s place. That morning, we heard some sounds outside. The staircase adjacent to our balcony led to the terrace. A sidewall with holes all along screened the staircase. We peeped from the holes to find what was happening in our opposite house. The uncle, we called neighborhood elders as uncles, was hurtling a steel bucket towards the aunt, his wife. The lady was threatening him with a knife fixed to a wooden block. We have one such in our kitchen, used by my mother for cutting vegetables when she was sitting on the floor. Uncle was now ducking while the aunt aimed another missile. All loose things in sight were exhausted including flower pots in the yard. When nothing was available, the aunt was straining against the wooden gate to let it come loose into her hands. At that time, a gentleman from the street talked what looked like some sense to the now exhausted couple which seemed to have worked. Soon all was quiet on the front then.

My father was telling my mom that he knew the reason behind such fights in the locality. We overheard the secret that the president of the colony requested some select spouses to playact as warring partners to create some scenes in their respective homes so that there would be no domestic violence among the rest of the households. So, we were disappointed to know the whole thing was, after all, a sham.

Recently, cockfights and chasing bulls are checked by courts to stop cruelty towards animals and people’s betting tendencies, barring stock markets of course. One site,, says, “Cockfighting predates Christ by at least 500 years. Believed to have originated in China or India, it was practiced by the ancient Greeks, 
Persians and Romans, who identified it with Eros, the God of Love and passed it on to medieval Europe.” Proxy wars are better than real wars. I also cite playing chess was to fight our battles in drawing rooms. Big nations once engaged terrorists, extremists, and mercenaries to fight on their behalf. The former might have thought that a lot of money, wealth, and personnel could be thus spared. However, it is just another story, for those antisocial elements turned loose to fight against their own creators as well as the innocent public.

History says it was a custom/tradition to engage slaves and prisoners as sacrificial lambs left alone to fend for themselves in Roman amphitheaters to face lions and tigers, all for the enjoyment of spectators and emperors alike. Now, those barbaric blood sports (at least, human blood here) were spared, and instead innocent creatures like pigeons, cocks, and bulls are being used to 
whet human’s atavistic hunger and our betting instinct. These days we find our heroes in movies chasing villains in climaxes like all hell broke loose to beat villains to a pulp. So hard it is to watch, seeing which will be no exaggeration as some of the chickenhearted among the audiences drop dead, or shed a tear or two in favor of such victimized baddies. These proxy wars are even played in daily TV serials too. They are no tearjerkers anymore. We see the softies among women being teased, to no end, in every other frame by the vamps who became a legion these days, and more popular by the day. Any appetite for sadism in viewers including masochism can be whetted after watching one or two episodes, particularly in local language channels.

I wonder what happened to the words of Gandhi, Buddha and ancient saints who trod the path of peace in this holy land. Ordinary farmers and consumers are susceptible like fighting cocks, to be manipulated by corporate and political groups including neighboring rival countries to fight their personal wars. It is better to watch out for those who find guinea pigs and scapegoats in vulnerable sections of the society.

Sometimes, blood needs to be let out, to let in peace and quiet. It is better for people to limit their angst to just animals which are normally eaten for dinner rather than turn the ire against fellow humans. One can hardly answer some debaters who bring plants into the picture to argue that the former have feelings too, vide Jagadish Chandra Bose. An actor is heard as saying that there should be a ban on biryani, if there should be a ban on Jallikattu (bull-baiting), for this Pongal festival.

Next, I have a fear for strays. How I wish if the same were engaged in similar sporting fights, as innocent walkers like yours truly or the humble postman could be spared. All said, let traditions prevail, but no adding injury-enhancing drugs, blades and sharpened horns and nails to the creatures in the fray. I am of the view that it is better to let those trained animals fight till their adrenaline or they last, instead of us raising our adrenaline to target fellow humans.


More by :  Seshu Chamarty

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