THEY

Sreedhevi Iyer
Oct 4th, 2014

They already know, and they are ready. They are obediently disobedient. They have ingested the manual in their smartphones and iPads. It says not to respond to provocation with hatred. They have their umbrellas but only because it rains. Their real armour is their smiles.

They first come out after asking permission from their teachers. Then they grow, gathering at intersections rather than conventional open spaces. Like their ideas and identities, their positions are at the points where different paths turn and cross. They know the power of occupying gaps in journeys. It makes those around them stop, look, respond.

They cry in surprise at the tear gas but they recover. Their tears are not new: they have been streaming for a while, love loaned out and returned because of expiry dates. Like a new bride on being sent back to dysfunctional parents. They open their umbrellas for themselves and for everyone else. They hold them over their policemen.

They welcome all who come out to become them. They have the tents with free water bottles, biscuits, pizzas. They put up tables under ceiling sockets to create phone- charging stations. They still shop but do not break windows. They hang up projections of support messages on social media from different parts of the world, and in about twenty languages. They quote Les Miserables and think it is V for Vendetta. They display banners in Chinese and English on pedestrian overpasses. They plaster posters quoting Abraham Lincoln and Karl Marx. They wave the torches in their smartphones like a forest of electric shine. They sleep on the streets. They twist yellow strips of fabric into ribbons and adorn themselves with them. They adorn the world with them.

They gather at these crosspoints because that is where history halts sometimes, gauging a turn. They know history, like time, does not travel along straight lines but in spirals. A parallel event may and must have occurred in a different dimension for this to be possible. They understand they are the progeny of Mandela, King, Gandhi. They know the value of responding to blind power with gentleness. Courtesy. Song. Like their predecessors, they know passivity is infuriating. They know their weapon is their opponent’s shame.

They show their individuality by becoming a collective. They coordinate in groups with minimal leadership. Their figurehead representative loathes the attention on him and focuses on the task at hand, even after his arrest and release. They buy food in bulk and direct traffic. They protect stray dogs. They forward and share images and articles from their phones till their fingers hurt. Sometimes their connectivity is killed. They find alternative apps not requiring Wi-Fi. They will find a way, still. They know the obligations necessary to find their rights.

They expand to include their peripheries. They accept the ethnic minorities and expats as guests morphed into family. They are now the American lawyer, the Macanese businessman, the Indian engineering student, the Nepalese journalist, the Pakistani butcher, the mixed-heritage returnee and the hyphenated coconut. They are all of them and they will become more.

They soar as they approach their deadline. They see and hear their chancellors and they are now them, too.

The attacks have come. The violence, the ignorance, the blindness. They are now hurt. They sing and share online with a different tone. They can see the world watching. They now witness as much as they cause.

They understand this. This has happened before. Some of them would have already known. It only means there is more to stand on. This is about them, but also not about them. This is about all they have ever known, and all they were told of what was to be.

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Sreedhevi Iyer
Australia
Last blog date: Oct 4th, 2014

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