I Want To Be a Fanatic When I Grow Up

I want to be a fanatic when I grow up,
announce a pair of curious eyes
emerging from behind a large glass of Bournvita milk,
somewhere in a Tier II city of lost sparrows
and grey skies.

Stunned, the father mutes the television,
puts away his daily headlines,
the room temporarily lurks silent,
a man in a suit with a mic stopped midway
threatening some people to toe the line.

Finally, the father’s features soften into a smile,
It’s a long road to becoming what they televise.
Start small,
try becoming a troll,
women, minorities, marginalised –
an endless list to put to rights.

It’s a service for good –
if you remain diligent, at the young age of 17, you can visit student protests
to shoot.
21 is a critical age – that’s when acquired education
can be put in the service of hate.
You can auction women, send rape and death threats –
everyone benefits from such digital engagement on the internet.

As I said, the road is long and the climb steep,
we begin with jokes and stereotypes,
make our way up to bullying,
and then we vandalise,

Segregate, discriminate – let hate
be part and parcel of policies
to legalise, to justify,
to validate god’s will.

My dear son, if it was a pyramid
and you are making your way up,
the top is where there is little space,
higher stakes,
fleetingly you might realize,
while listening to calls for ‘cleanliness drives’ –
that this is not what you wanted –
well, too bad, my son – it’d be too late,

even death does not free a life
imprisoned by hate…

Rachit Sharma works in the social sector, he designs and facilitates leadership programs for young people. He is currently based in Meerut.

The poem emerged as a reflection from the author’s engagement with the ‘Dignity in Difference Project’, which is focused on amplifying youth voices and actions in addressing diverse factors of violence and Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, and Pakistan. The project aims at increasing knowledge of the push and pull factors, enhancing the multidimensional capacity of youth leaders and their strategies, and strengthening multi-stakeholder partnerships to prevent violent extremism in South Asia.

Featured image: Pariplab Chakraborty