Two: Birth of Maya
She was born Maya, nine years after independence—nine years of Right reign for the whole country, as also for the non-nation of the eastern ethos that was extensively covered in the first chapter of this yarn. That entity of doubtful name—the land of her birth—was cleaved uncleanly in two, as Jarasandha was, when the overseas rulers had handed over the reins to the duly elected Right.
The entire country was passing through an economic and cultural upheaval—more pronounced in the amputated Western Half of the Eastern Nation (WHEN, for short), as it was christened after the bisection, where the wounds were still too raw and sore for comfort.
Millions had crossed into WHEN—from the other half, for the rulers there did not want the tainted infidels, many more from the neighbouring entities within the realm too, for it was far better for the livelihood of the have-nots of the region. WHEN tolerated them as it did the countless blue-bottles that descended noisily from nowhere in the mango season; her neighbours within and outside the border did not. So you could see them infesting railway stations and city pavements of WHEN, cooking what little they could get by begging (from the less unfortunate), borrowing or stealing, sleeping and breeding there with the imagined privacy of plastic sheets, and braving bad weather.
Might to muster the support of the millions, natives and aliens, with false promises, money, casteism and muscle was the policy of the Right, while the Left was too busy in rabble rousing. When they wrested power after three decades of struggle, the LEFT did exactly the same for the next three decades and more…
… Now, why was the just-born little girl of our fairy tales christened Maya, too grandiose a name for a lower middle class child, a girl child at that in a land where there is a history of the poor folks killing new-born girls by feeding them salt in place of mothers’ milk?
If you look up the antecedents of that name, you will come across a number of explanations. In Buddhist annals, that was the name of the queen who gave birth to Siddhārtha. It is also somewhat, but not fully, synonymous with prajñā or wisdom; illusion or sorcery; ahaṁkāra or awareness of oneself; bonding or attachment with objects, places or persons, especially in the dialects spoken in WHEN; a pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilisation; and a 3-D computer animation software. In everyday WHEN idiom, contrary to all etymological theories, it also means fellow-feeling. Was it the last that her parents meant? Or did they mean ahaṁkāra—pride, hubris (ὕβρις)—in the modern WHEN sense? Both had been a subject of intense speculation ever since she emerged as a public figure.
It was not her fault that her parents belonged to the lower middle class— economically speaking and, perhaps, intellectually too. That should have been reason enough—the sense of being wronged by the upper crust of the soceity—for her to side up with the rebellious Left. That she chose the Right to launch herself surprised many of her colleagues and detractors. There is not an iota of truth in the rumour that she was inspired in her politics by Orwell’s 1984, for she had never even heard of it, though she had a Master’s degree in some obscure subject and also an overseas PhD without ever being abroad.