The audience troops into the theatre, walk slowly behind courteous ushers who help them to their seats. They sit expectantly, looking at the curtain, and suddenly see itturning red, then blue, then fiery yellow, and in a few seconds, the colours intermingle, becoming one, with a single rainbow streak going along into the sky!

“Wow!” cry the people, “Wow!”

They sit mesmerized, watching the shimmering cloth transforming itself, entertaining them. They scream with pleasure at the entertaining curtain.

They sit through the whole show, watching the curtain, laughing, chuckling, grinning, smiling as ruffian red cloth, oftimes the brigand blue, moves from the top, envelopes the yielding yellow. Then watch as same impish yellow tries to get away and blue fabric chases it, then splashesherself all over the red.

The audience rise at the end of the show and make their way home.

“How was the play?” ask their sons, daughters, friends later.

“Play?” they ask.“What play?”

“But you went to see a play?”

“The curtain was more interesting!The green going into the yellow!And so funny when red crashed into the blue!”

“Didn’t the curtain open?”


“But weren’t you interested in seeing what was happening behind the curtain?”

“The curtain was interesting enough!” say the people nodding at each other in agreement, “Who’s interested in seeing anything behind!”

And in a bigger theatre called India, the same seems to be happening: There’s a play going on, actors and actresses acting their part, doing their roles, voicing their lines. Their faces filled with anger, their speech with communal hate.

They stick their swords and daggers, not wooden swords and daggers given to them in the original script, but real ones, made of steel, or deadlier ones, made of hateful speech, which they thrust onto unsuspecting crowds who wounded cry and shout and look at us the audience for support.

But we the audience sit impassive, laughing, giggling, smiling, interested only in watching the curtain.

Yes, the curtain of Padmavati, the curtain of our beloved PMs foreign jaunts, the curtain of newspapers full of tributes from small leaders, and clever WhatSapp cartoonand video curtains lampooning opposition leaders amuse and entertain us, keeping us occupied, as those behind the same entertaining cloth, fall wounded, are kicked, lynched, raped and murdered.

The world asks: “Your country seems to be having more rapes than the rest of the world?”

“Lots of communal tension after the present government came in?”

“Demonetization has killed your economy!”

But we stare only at the curtain. Fooled into vehement anger whether Padmavathy should be screened or not, gulled into watching the prime minister’s new clothes, his hands drumming Chinese drums, while what is happening behind the curtain, ceases to interest us!

Are we, you and I, not seeing the play?

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