There are these times when you realise that something that you are trying to do is utterly pointless. And then you come to a realisation above that- which is that that is precisely why they need to be done more, to reinforce the sense of it. I know, not making a lot of sense, am I? Let me explain.
The NGO I work with organised a theatre workshop recently. As a part of the workshop and another campaign, we came up with a production- a street play on youth and contemporary politics; meant to raise awareness, and not at all affiliated with any political party. Armed with loud voices and vivacious spirits and a brilliant dhol, we dressed ourselves in black kurtas and mostly red duppattas. This already made us feel a little bit like an army. In effect, we went to a lot of places, performed without fear and garnered great feedback. Not only that, but we generated a lot of pretty interesting post performance discussions with the audience. The best part about the play, proudly titled 'Bharat Bhagya Vidhata' is that it contains just the right mix of humour and punches to the gut. We sing songs and we provoke just as much laughter as we do serious thought. All in all, we were pretty proud of what we were doing, since we don't expect any one of our viewers to stand up after the play and say "I shall change the country and I shall become next PM." But the fact that people have come up to us saying we encourage/inspire them is good enough for the moment. Moreover, at every one of our performances, and there have been quite a few, there has been at least one invitation from another institute or organization that wants us to perform there.
However, something happened today that shook our spirit a little. We usually alternate performances between institutes and public places. Today, we went to one of the bigger parks of the city, hoping to catch a regular audience. Let me state here that this is the second time we were going to this place. As usual, before we began, we walked around the park, telling people about the play, inviting them and creating a general atmosphere. It worked well, and we began on a high note. Just about the point when the play hit the halfway mark- at about 7 minutes, this gentleman walks in, all enraged, demanding us to pack up. He said that we were disturbing the walkers and were a nuisance, and I quote, "I called the commissioner and I am very happy I shut this down." Not wanting to create trouble for ourselves as well as those present there, we stopped as we were, apologized to our audience and silenced the dhol. Not that our ego as performers wasn't hurt, but more than that, our shoulders slumped because we realised that our voices, no matter how loud and how necessary, were still silenced.
What still managed to make us smile was the fact that a lot of people from the audience came and apologised to us because of what happened. Another person who was pretty sorry apologised that we weren't allowed to continue, but in a loud tone stated "these young people are like the roots of a tree. Even if we forcefully uproot them from here, they will find root and grow somewhere else. They cannot be contained." His pride mirrored in our eyes.
Today, I understood that when your voice is silenced, that's when you need to speak the loudest. After this setback, we walked out a little disheartened, and yet feeling more enthused than ever. Let's just say, stronger, louder voices are waiting just behind the curtains. In the words of one spectator against our agitator, we will find root and grow again.