Complicit has been adjudged the word of the year, as it is the most searched for word online at Dictionary.com. The article is an interesting read and gives a comprehensive overview of some of key events of the year 2017.
Complicit according to Dictionary.com means “choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others; having partnership or involvement in wrongdoing.” That means I can safely exclude me you and most others. So why would I ask if you (or I) were complicit? I mean we have not chosen to be involved in any illegal act have we?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines complicit as “helping to commit a crime or do wrong in some way.”
Choosing is an act of commission but in some way is a more loose/vague phrase and may include an act of omission as well. And that is what complicity is all about – omission or as Dictionary.com elaborates: “Or, put simply, it means being, at some level, responsible for something . . . even if indirectly.”
And therein lies the strength and beauty of the word – in its connotation. Simply looking the other way could make you complicit. It is a word that that ropes in everyone standing on the sidelines, it points fingers, grabs us by the collar and demands to know: Why are you silent? Why are you COMPLICIT?
Complicit brings to the fore what we have always been taught since school: “Forget not that the grossest crime is to compromise with injustice and wrong. Remember the eternal law: you must give, if you want to get.” Subhas Chandra Bose
Yet like all lessons this too needed to be brushed up and reiterated. And we need to be shaken out from our stupor, our chalta hai attitude and speak out. We are a certified argumentative lot so why don’t we speak out more?
It is time that we stood up and be counted. Be that ‘faceless’ society in whose name today honor killings and other atrocities against women continue to be committed. It is time to stop blaming the victim and call out the real perpetrators – her parents for being responsible for dowry deaths and bride burning.
It is time to call them out, shift them from the victim category and lump them along with the killers. Why are only in-laws being booked? Why not the parents too? The in-laws can demand, deprive, torture and murder the bride only because her parents are complicit. If they weren’t, then they would have taken her away at the first instance of threat and injustice. With an assured safe house, no girl would feel the need to commit suicide or strangle her own daughter.
But unfortunately, not many parents do that, do they? Once she is married, their responsibility ends. They have done their duty, fed her clothed her, educated her, gotten her married and sent her off with due pomp and ceremony to her real home, her paradise on earth. They are more than happy and relieved to be free of their burden and more than ready to reap the benefits of their good karma.
Wait. What if there is trouble in paradise?
Well what could they do? They were poor, old, incapable and bechare. They didn’t make the rules the society did and if everyone could follow the rules so could she. It was now time for her to pay her parents back for their sacrifice, do her duty, be the ‘good girl’ and shoulder her own burden. Silently.
Besides, if it was her destiny to be an educated, qualified six-figure earning 21st century slave, what could her parents do except shed unhappy tears, keep fasts and pray?
Fiction? No. Just the unpleasant, painful, disturbing reality of many a woman in India. One that we prefer to look away from, blame her and think of other safer comfortable things. But like Luvvie Ajayi says in her amazing TED talk – Let’s get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
While skydiving she realized that “comfort is overrated. Because being quiet is comfortable. Keeping things the way they’ve been is comfortable. And all comfort has done is maintain the status quo. So we’ve got to get comfortable with being uncomfortable by speaking these hard truths when they’re necessary.” Like she says, “And in a world that wants us to whisper, I choose to yell.”
As do I. If aging infirm parents can sue their sons and the government mobilized to enact a law that makes it a legal obligation for children and heirs to provide better and safe living conditions for them why can’t similar provisions be made for daughters trapped in unhappy marriages?
Well, why are you so silent?
Are you ready to call a spade a spade or if you like fairy tales, call the naked emperor naked?
Are you going to speak up? Stop existing in isolation? Take sides? Make a difference, and leave the world a little bit better than it was?
Or would you prefer to be complicit?
Your choice, their lives.