My teachers often tell me my writings are vague, but I just reflect my life and my times. Perhaps life is very vague. There is no authority. Hoodlums and urchins boss over the poor people. There is a government at the center but its presence is no longer felt as we move away from the capitol. Even America for that matter isn’t in a better position. Unknown Mike Tysons rule the streets, the cities by the mafia and the government by millionaires who can afford to spend a lot on elections.
Maybe I think too much for a 14 year old but I can’t help being aware of what’s going on around me. The world is full of inequality—the poor countries and the rich ones. Even in my own country there are so many poor people and some very rich. I am one of the fortunate kids who has been getting a very good education, but in India there are millions who don’t know what education is. Education, I feel, is the first step toward democracy. In “Indian Democracy” there are officially 22 percent educated. This includes those who cannot even write their own names. This is the political state of affairs in India.
Not more than five percent read the newspapers. Village folk don’t even know the worth of the chit of paper they throw into the ballet boxes. The ballot boxes are quite black in India. Votes are bought at cheap rates and even snatched by bullies. It is a grim state of affairs.
Let’s be more personal. I come down into my own personal life. Let’s break up all the Western myths of India to say that the song “Faith” arrived just three months after it was released in the U.S. And we in India listen to Guns n’ Roses and watch Beverly Hills Cop.
The city has a lot of excitement. It ain’t as monotonous as they have in the communist countries, but what’s the change and excitement anyway? Because life just passes in the wink of an eye, as Jimmie Hendrix said.
Coming up to the spiritual part of life in India, most of the foolish Westerners have come here seeking something but they all finish up nowhere. I think they have the same gods up there in the Western skies.
In this painting, the ceremony of Goddess Durga is taking place. The goddess, with her lion, defeats the monster Asura. With the goddess are her daughters, Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati and her sons, Ganesh and Kastik. In this painting, with a little satire, I have depicted religion today.
Maybe my writing reflects nothing of my being 14. I have been blessed by a birth in one of the bigger Indian cities in all the opportunity of becoming something. There is a lot of competition in this country of more than 800 million. Some people think and face it. Some run away from life. Some are content with everything that is there, and to be content is perhaps the greatest thing. And with a little humor.
I am content with everything. It’s no better anywhere else. And because a higher standard of living doesn’t mean a thing to me I don’t mind where I am, in India or anywhere else in the world. Life hurries on, and the leaves that are green turn to brown.
Essay and art: Sanjay Ghosh, age 14, New Delhi, 1989