Why this ‘kolaveri’ against Sanjay Dutt?

You must have walked their path if you must offer an opinion about someone.
Sanjay Dutt leaving Yerawada Prison in Pune
Picture Courtesy: Internet
I am appalled with the quality of social media/public opinion being hurled at Sanjay Dutt over his release from prison earlier this week. I like Sanjay, the actor. But I love him for the courage he has displayed to face Life, go through a legal process and serve a jail term. Yes, it can be argued that he tried to avoid the jail term as much as possible; he used every legal option available to him. And it can be further argued that while in jail he kept seeking – and getting – paroles. And now, he’s walked out eight months ahead of schedule. So, it’s natural that people ask: will others accused of a crime or prisoners get such a differential, preferred treatment? I guess that question is more relevant when posed to the government and the prison authorities. As far as Sanjay is concerned he only did what anyone in his position will do – which is, explore all legal avenues available to first avoid a prison term and then to reduce it. After all who wants to be in jail?
This is my personal view.
I say this not as a means of offering just yet another opinion. I say this because I have come close to incarceration on more than one occasion. Like Sanjay has admitted to having made mistakes, I too, in the context of the poor financial decisions that I took, have made mistakes. And while there is a realization today of follies having been committed, I did not see anything inappropriate about seeking and utilizing legal counsel to stay away from jail. I believe apart from being a constitutional right, it is also a normal, human urge to not want to go to jail. I can totally relate to Sanjay declaring, upon his release, “It has been a long walk to freedom.” I haven’t had to – so far – face a situation of my physical freedom being taken away. But since I have come close (I share one such episode in my Book ‘Fall Like A Rose Petal’; Westland, August 2014), let me tell you, even that is something that I wish no one should ever have to experience. Which is why I salute Sanjay for not running away from the country or hanging himself from a ceiling fan – he could have done either long, long back; and many in his shoes (may) have done that surely! – instead he stayed on, faced the 23-year-process stoically and served a sentence that the highest court in the land ordered him to.
I am not trying to be preachy here. I am just sharing what I deeply feel. I know the pain of being judged by public – and private – opinion. I know what it is to be called a cheat (by my own family). I know what it means to be unable to redeem yourself, your credibility, when Life check-mates you, only because you blinked and made a couple of lousy decisions. Most people who are hanging Sanjay in a public trail have, mercifully, never had to go through a situation that he has faced. Perhaps they would have crumbled long, long ago had they ever had to face one themselves.

Here’s the nub: if you haven’t walked someone’s path yourself, please don’t rush to offer an opinion about them. Please respect the other person’s right to dignity!   

Extraordinary pain is an opportunity to be reborn

Living through a painful period can seem, logically, impossible – but in reality it is not!
A 54-year-old man committed suicide in Chennai just two days ago, by jumping off the top of his five-storey building in George Town, because he found his chronic back pain of 15 years unbearable – especially after a pain killer injection that he used to take daily was banned by the government and was no longer available in pharmacies. The reason people give up on Life, or suffer a lot through Life, is because they want the pain to not be there. They want it to go away. Or they want to escape it.
Pain is not something that you can control. Just like your being alive is a fact, so is the presence of pain in your Life. The art of living is to be able to live in peace despite the pain in your Life. Why most people struggle with pain is because they work towards eradicating the pain or the source of that pain. Instead if they worked on witnessing the pain, as if they were a third party, they will realize that pain is harmless. And that surely pain does not have an agenda to cause anyone suffering. They will then be able to separate themselves, their true selves, from whatever is causing them pain.
A friend’s actions recently caught up with him – it appeared to all of us who knew him that he had let down his entire family – his grown up, young adult, children and his wife of 25 years. His actions, always questionable, led his wife to be arrested by the police. She was sent to jail for a few days until she was granted bail by a court. When she was released from jail, the lady, much to everyone’s surprise, came out calm and strong. Everyone had expected her to be suffering, to be worn out and beaten, because of her incarceration. Indeed there were physical scars of her trauma. She had not been eating in jail. And so had lost 8 kilos in 4 days. But her spirit was intact. She said, upon seeing me, “Your friend has let me down very badly. At first I was very angry. The pain was unbearable – both of being let down and of being in jail for no fault of mine. I wanted to end my Life. But then I told myself, that would be the easiest thing to do. Then I stepped back and looked at my Life. I can’t live with my husband anymore. I accepted that my Life has changed forever. I have now decided to divorce my husband and focus on my children and be available for them as they settle down and raise their families.” The lady’s stoicism comes from her sense of clarity. Which again comes from her ability to have “witnessed” her pain, her acceptance and her choice not to suffer.
Extraordinary pain – like betrayal, death, financial losses, a relationship breakdown, a health crisis – are all opportunities to be reborn. Through pain, you learn not to suffer. When you don’t suffer, despite the pain, Life becomes meaningful, beautiful, in fact, a celebration! If you want happiness and inner peace, don’t reject anything that comes your way. Least of all pain. Through rejection you suffer. Through acceptance, your inner peace, your bliss, flowers.