I met two army officers on a train traveling from Ranchi to Delhi. Our journey started at five-ish, and by dinnertime we were arguing about non-government organizations, the ambiguity of human rights violations, democracy vs. military rule, freedom to choose vs. fundamental national values. It was strange to be a part of such a textbook debate, to know that this is precisely the dialectic you've been told to expect when you meet an army guy.
Night before yesterday, met another textbook case: a casual migrant with a bit of land in Shahadara, which he leaves every once in a while to pull the rickshaw, knowing that all this can ensure him is bare survival. With talk that veers involuntarily to his children and eyes that grow wistful at this remembrance.
We inhabit stereotypes. But it is painful when there's nothing of an individual that leaves a tiny escape route from categories. Lets them sprawl a bit, be something they're not expected to be, say something they're not expected to say. Military discipline or the harshness of want. Or social norms. Or familial obligations. Or peer pressure.
Do we have it in us to resist, resist?