Friday, September 13, 2013

'Dobby Is A Free Elf'

So, the other day I had to bring cottage cheese (yet again) from the Milk Bar. I asked the shopkeeper to give me Rs. 60 worth of cottage cheese. Ek pau paneer laa be, he said to his shop assistant irritably, referring to India's quintessential local unit, the 'pau'. The disgruntled assistant brought some of the stuff, but even I could discern that it wasn't one pau. The shopkeeper looked at his assistant, as though enraged. Slapping him hard across the face, he said something that sounded like Yeh ek pau hota hai bhench**? Tune theek se nahi sunaa? Maalik ki baat theek se nahi sunni hoti, haanh? Translation? Well, here is a rough approximation: "Is this one pau, you brothel-born? Didn't you hear me? Is it not your duty to listen to your master?" The shopkeeper considered the assistant his slave! The assistant responded in a manner that would put Kreacher the house elf to shame.
Nearly a century after Lincoln's efforts to abolish slavery in the United States, modern slavery exists in this form in India. Many times the victims do nothing to mollify their situation. And shockingly, many times the victims are little children! I ask you, are these workers, indentured labourers and domestic helps not human beings? Do they not deserve equal treatment? To conclude, I would like to restate the title. "Dobby is a free elf!"

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