Monday, December 01, 2008

Secure At My Desk, I Write

When I was around ten years old, I watched a report on the possibility of a comet colliding with earth and wiping out all life on the planet on Prannoy Roy's flagship show, 'The World This Week'. Being somewhat more indulgent of my imagination than most people, I was scared to death by the report. That night I insisted on sleeping next to my mom because, of course, that was the foolproof solution to every problem, even a daunting one like the end of the world. For weeks after watching that show, I would scan the night sky for any sign of a comet bombing the world into oblivion. With the passage of time, the terror of the comet also loosened its vice-like grip from my mind, and life went on.

Now, suddenly, I realize that a comet collision sounds like pumpkin pie compared to what people keep doing to each other in this seriously strange world. When bombs go off in a crowded pre-Diwali market in Delhi, when people going about their business are blown to bits in Ahmedadbad, again and again and again, when Jaipur and Guwahati show the geographical spread of the new and efficient method of controlling spiralling populations by simply getting rid of a large chunk of people and when Mumbai's movers and shakers find that their distinguished lives are as much at the mercy of an unknown bullet as are those of the ordinary families trying to catch a train to be home for Eid. A shake of the head, a few pithy comments and condolences, breaking news spattered with blood, strategic thinkers and lobbyists on the news, muttering at dirty politicians trying to extract mileage. Life goes on, and the ones who have been hurt shed a few tears in the process. India is a soft target, Indians have notoriously short memories, and we all wear pretty yellow Post-its on our heads labelling us 'Muslims' and 'Hindus' and 'Jews' and 'Westerners' so that the next gunmen can pick out which ones they want to target next time. These days even the other side wears labels like 'Islamic terror', 'Hindu terror' and terror of other denominations, because maybe they kill people differently from each other. Time isn't really the greatest healer, apathy is. We continue doing our mundane jobs while somewhere another young man is taught that ending our lives arbitrarily is the way to set everything right in his world, to end the cycle of poverty, misery, misunderstanding and ghettoisation that he deals with everyday.

Who are these people who play with us so? Why are they so easy to 'brainwash'? Why are there so many of them willing to kill? How desperate are the lives of those who pick up guns to settle scores with unknown, uncomprehending victims of their rage? When you make people believe that a shortcut exists which will take care of all their problems rightaway instead of telling them that it takes hard work and years of it, to build schools and generate jobs and start businesses, to pave roads and build houses and make women feel a degree of safety on the streets, to give children an unblighted childhood and to make life what it should be, you create a bloodthirsty race of terrorists who are themselves too scared of their own reality and seek quick fixes for everything. Well, wake up and look around. Things won't change because you jump on a boat with a bag full of bullets and dry fruits with frenzied visions of martyrdom in your eyes. Every life that you take is an intricacy of nerve and vein, bone and muscle, complex beyond your imagination, something you cannot even comprehend, let alone give back. And yet, it takes you not a moment to tear it apart. I fervently hope that you live, with the crushing weight of possibility held by each life that you snuffed out so casually. I hope the guilt never leaves you alone, not even for a moment.

I look at the pictures on the screen, showing the very spot where I met A for the first time. I feverishly read every news update, in between assuring the relatives and friends that I'm okay. I wonder if I've been spared this time so that there's fodder left for the next strike. I wonder if I can ever feel safe again, even if I could insist on sleeping next to my mother. I wonder if I'll ever get my voter ID and actually do my bit instead of wondering how people like this keep getting elected. In the meantime, there's always next time, and life goes on.

Update: - Thank you for all the thought you put in your comments, it was a good exercise to read and debate all of your views with myself. However, this particular gem of a comment gets my vote as the final word. It made me crack up so loudly that I was the cynosure of all eyes at work for a while today. Please do read it.

22 comments:

probe said...

at your best.

Mugdha said...

That's just about it...

Sim said...

you just gave words to what we are all feeling.

heh? ok said...

@ probe, mugdha, sim
now all the parties have already put up posters 'dedicated to the martyrs'. sheesh.

Dreamcatcher said...

I don't know if they would suffer from any kind of guilt because all humane qualities in them have probably been annihilated long ago.

Anonymous said...

It is also high time that the media and other such likes stopped advocating war, pause and think a while about what it is that creates these situations. Violence begets violence, we need to remind ourselves of that. We need sanity and not hysteria.

A

another brick in the wall said...

I think it's our culture.. i dunno if i am wrong.. but from what i can see.. it's always been our culture..

we are a very family oriented country.. that makes our lives self-centered.. all our lives we are busy running after money trying to earn a financially secure life for our family.. so we choose a "safe" career.. we become MBAs and CAs.. we don't join the army... don't get into politics.. it's not meant for common men.. we hide in the skin of this common man and we let some worthless ppl take control of us... rule over us.. dictate us.. and we are too happy to say we are helpless.. we sit and watch the drama on tv.. we cry.. we forget.. cz it's imp to forget.. else guilt fills us.. then we can't live our lives.. so what do we do.. we run run run run run till we reach a safe spot.. far away from our reality where no one can question us.. no one can reach us.. and we shout it wasn't my fault.. we assure ourselves and we lead on a normal life... we close our eyes and call ourselves brave cz we lived through this horror.. we don't care cz although my friend got shot at some coffee shop.. it wasn't me.. it wasn't my family.. and we say.. it didn't affect my life.. no we don't want it to.. cz we are so helpess [dead?] anyway.. we have to move on cz we don't want to feel the burden of guilt when we take our next breath.. we don't want to step out of our families, our "Securities" and bring about a change.. no.. we want to sit back and abuse and forget and wait.. in the meantime.. one joker gets dethroned only to be replaced by another useless fuck.. but our world is still safe apparently... we still haven't felt the heat.. nope.. my family is healthy and eating.. why the fuck should i care.. it doesn't matter.. join army.. why? so we follow orders of our blessed leaders? we are brave and yes! SENSIBLE.. to sit back and watch the show.. we have a movie to catch.. that's our life.. we have places to visit... we have websites to launch.. we have some fucking work to do.. we have to live for god's sake.. someone will do the job of cleaning.. in the meantime.. i have to start working on my pending projects.. i don't care cz my life is good and stable.. no difference it made to me.. so what if one stupid taj blew up.. so what some ppl blew up some 100 clueless ppl at CST.. i am a proud fuckin marathi speaking deshashtha brahmin male.. of course.. HINDU.. oh.. and i think an indian.. oh maybe an asian.. and i guess an earthling.. and a human being too.. right? who gives a fuck of who died.. it wasn't me dead.. it wasn't my family and friend circle.. so let me work in peace.. rest of the world make go up in flames.. i have no business.. it's not gonna earn me a fuckin paisa if i am gonna do some service towards humanity... nope.. just gonna lose my time.. cz some filthy politician is just gonna sing the melodies of marathi, hindu, indian greatness and spoil all my good work.. so i refuse to step up.. a common man i am.. i ain't making no difference to this goddamned society

jai hind.. jai maharashtra? balls... fuck india.. fuck indians.. i am so not fuckin proud of anything and anyone anymore.. i am one self-pitying self-loathing human being.. just like those gun men who have blown up a million lives till now.. cz i am a silent audience to all the mayhem they bring upon our lives

Dewdrop said...

I just have one thing to say when I read the headlines in the press and see the live coverage in the media on these terror attacks - we Mumbaikars and the nation as a whole have become numb to these atrocities... My heart goes out to the innocent victims of this senseless violence. In the largest democracy, we are so inept that we cannot elect politicians who are less regional and more Indian, who put the country and its people before their individual gain. How many times will we hearr, after every terror strike, that the Center and the State had prior information on the attacks but did NOTHING about it... it is a shameful that the terrorists who attacked our parliament and were caught and convicted to the death sentence by the highest court in the country are still alive just because the politicians want to appease a certain community. One can just hope and pray that good sense prevails and we wake up to realise that enough is enough!

Something very similar I've touched upon : http://steamingcupsofcoffee.blogspot.com/2008/11/maimed-mumbai.html

Do stop By.

heh? ok said...

@ everyone
i don't think there's anything really left to say. except that we need to stop pointing fingers at the others within our country and start looking at ourselves. do we unconsciously profile people by religion when we meet them? if we're honest with ourselves, we know that most of us do. so maybe it wouldn't be too farfetched to assume that the people being profiled in such a manner know and resent it. therefore, the entire rhetoric of 'appeasement' rings a little hollow to me. i think indian muslims are struggling with the same basic issues as the rest of us, and such cynicism only sets them back. as for the 'appeasement' in question, i think it's easier for the political elite to focus on hanging/ not hanging a terrorist as the relevant issue for his religious community instead of focussing on, i dunno, maybe providing more avenues for education?

i'd like to make it clear that while i definitely do not appreciate making political issues out of topics such as the religion of a terrorist on death row, or whether a certain politician offered not completely vegetarian offerings to a hindu god at the expense of issues like food, water and livelihood, the culpability for this also needs to be fixed with care. if the hindu right wing decides to orchestrate bomb blasts to get 'revenge' on behalf of the hindu community, i as a hindu refuse to shoulder any responsibility for their actions. in the same vein, i don't hold indian muslims culpable for whatever is being done to 'appease' them. that part of one of the comments made me uncomfortable.

raghu said...

no no, im not saying this because i love negating.. but seriously in a country of 1 billion a casualty of 300 should and infact must be unnoticed.. wasting anytime on it is just not the right thing to do.. there is simply nothing we can do to secure our coastline or make sure that the officers dont accept bribes and let a coupla terrorists in.. really.. there isnt much you can do.. one can attack marriot even today, its so easy if you have one nice shining ak 47.. there isnt much cops can do.. there is just too much fuss for something which cant be helped.

more people die of causes which can be dealt with more easily and directly without having to take actions of countries outside of ours. we shud perhaps deal with those problems rather than wasting on something that happens once in 5 years.

i sound as if we are offering a sacrifice to pakistan, the same way we offer sacrifice to some god.. well but thats just one way to look at it :P

the fact is we are very very safe in mumbai and there is simply nothing to worry about :D

DoubleDrats said...

The cherry on the crap cake is people like Rahul Bose indulging mercilessly in scathing political commentary.
Yes, that's what we really need. More insufferable morons talking about things they don't understand.

Wisdom said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
raghu said...

oh so that was the ad that pissed you off.. hehe

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