When messages from family and friends started pouring in, with family worried that they will need proof of their citizenship and friends reassuring that there was no cause for worry, it felt like a Déjà vu moment when a few years back the dreaded letters: CAA and NRC, were first introduced to our Indian dictionary. Back then though, the extended family’s extreme reaction was also a concern wrapped in two dreaded words: Detention Camps.

This time, however, the Home Ministry immediately sought to allay such fears. The message posted to the Press Information Bureau (PIB) website on Tuesday, was clear that this Act has “nothing to do with the community which enjoys equal rights as their Hindu counterparts”. It will not ‘curtail their freedom and opportunity to enjoy their rights as they have been practicing and entertaining since Independence’. It will not ‘impact their citizenship.’ So then, why the sudden implementation?

Explaining the need of the law, the Ministry said that this was to fast-track citizenship for the undocumented Non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who came to India before December, 2014. Since India does not have any pact with these countries for repatriation, to customise the citizenship system and control the illegal migrants, this Act was needed.

This was also a generous aim to bring back all those who were persecuted on religious grounds. It also added that “Islam is a peaceful religion that does not preach hatred or violence”. So the Act actually “protects Islam from being tarnished in the name of persecution”. Moreover, under Section 6 of the Citizenship Act, which deals with citizenship by naturalisation, anyone ‘eligible’ could apply. And there was also “no bar on Muslims from anywhere in the world to seek citizenship”.

However, it is interesting that all the above contents posted to the PIB website at 6.43 PM on Tuesday, are now unavailable from its original webpage as reported by sections of the media. Everything posted on PIB’s X page as ‘CAA myth busters’, with questions, answers and explanations, have also since been mysteriously deleted. It is unclear why.

Even though there is always a lingering sense of anxiety, I am not afraid. I am just puzzled. Why such contradictory statements? When rules of a legislation passed by the Parliament in late 2019 are notified just before the elections, it also makes you wonder about the whole point of the exercise.

Is it a ploy to keep us forever confused? Is it another Jumla? Or another distraction so that debates and discussions can now be about CAA and not the Electoral Bonds, the SBI or the Supreme Court.

However, I finally understood the meaning of CAA from an ambiguous one-liner, which ironically arrived from the prestigious “University of Whatsapp’. For better understanding, and more clarity, let me elaborate it as a story:

A couple has ten beautiful children. The kids are hungry. They have no toys, no allowance and even no clothes to wear. They don’t even have proper education.

The parents have small time jobs but their hearts are big. So one day, they go to the orphanage to adopt a few more children. The adoption agency is not only suspicious but also aghast.

It warns them repeatedly that this could be a difficult, gruelling, challenging, time consuming and a nerve wracking ‘Act’. Perhaps very expensive too, something which they cannot afford. They advise them to drop the idea and concentrate on looking after their own kids.

But the couple is adamant. Eventually, they fill in the application and come home. Only to find their kids sitting outside their house, with a stubborn question on their perplexed lips.

‘Why do you want more kids when you already have us? Why don’t you see to ‘our’ needs first?’

Now here’s the interesting part. The couple go past their protesting kids and into the house. But not before making a final announcement.

‘Okay fine. We’ll do that. But first PROVE that you all are ‘our’ children. Until then you can keep sitting here’.

This, my dear friends, is my first story. The second isn’t a story but an episode from the recent pages of ‘history’. You may have forgotten it but I haven’t.

I haven’t forgotten the promises of punishment to the corrupt rich. Or the distributive justice to the poor. I haven’t forgotten the taste of that tonic supposed to cure the financial system of a range of maladies, which instead resulted in cash crush and unemployment.

I haven’t forgotten those assurances that had tapped into our deep wellsprings of anger created by inequality. And I have certainly not forgotten how the Indian housewives had to scrape out their ‘secret white savings’ to make them public, so that all the black marketers could profit.

So, I am not worried or afraid.

I am just shocked that we have such a short term memory. How can one ever forget all those endless queues and queues of ‘patriotic’ people lining up to wage a war on corruption?

Well, guess what? This new exercise is just as useless. It is as futile as Demonetisation and as wasted as the surplus letters in that iconic word ‘Queue’. When a word that can be pronounced and written with just a ‘Q’, where is the necessity of the ‘u.e..u..e’?

I’m hoping this is another masterstroke. And I am hopeful someone out there is already ‘inventing’ that ‘Nano GPS chip’. The one that will be implanted inside each one, not to track us down but to verify the proof of our nationality. Perhaps that, and only that will also determine the truth. Of who is a citizen and who is not!

The views expressed here are the writer’s own.