April 10, 2010

Tragedy Has Not Touched Me... Thankfully

Whenever I though of killings based on identity, I always imagined myself safe. Maybe it was because I belong to the majority community in my country. The only time I was actually scared of being killed because of being different was, when I was in Bombay and the MNS was attacking the North Indians. I was not scared for myself, not at all. I went to a posh school of my city and the only thing that it was vulnerable to was the fact that it was Christian. But it wasn’t a religious conflict during that time. It was more regional. I was scared for my father. We still had our ‘DL’ number plate and I don’t know how it was possible, but my father did look like north Indian. The project my father was on during that time involved people from all over the country, so there were South, East, North and West Indians there. Hence, everyone came to Bombay with their regional number plate. I don’t remember it clearly, but I remember telling my dad not to take his car. I thought that if the car they took (my father and his friends car pooled) a car with a Maharashtra number plate, they would somehow be safer. I remember him, laughing and not taking me seriously. He said those people only had the balls to attack people who were defenseless. That meant poor people. In any case, he said, if death has to come, there is nothing we can do to evade it. That time, to me, it seemed foolish.
                                                                                                                                           But maybe, that is the true nature of death. When the 26/7 flood happened, I was at home, safe and sound and all the water around the building was a source of amusement for me. I kept yelling, “Global Warming” at the top of my voice. The only damage we faced was that water seeped in the car and we had to repair it. We got a week’s worth of holidays from school that time. Many people I knew were stranded on the roads during that time. Yet, the tragedy seemed so far away from me that I didn’t it could affect me directly. The deaths during that tragedy, to me seemed unimportant. It’s sad but true.
                                                                               Then the 26/11 happened and then I realized, death does really come unannounced and you cannot evade it. So many people died: rich, poor, a common man to policemen. It did not spare anyone. Who would have even thought that death would come in the form of young men with explosives, to cause enough casualties that would scar them, and others for a lifetime? Because when you are young, you can’t escape conscience. My memory of 26/11 is not the Taj burning. It is of the Chabad House in Colaba. 
                                                 I’ve read a lot about death and loss. Yet, after a short period of numbness, I am unable to feel the real magnitude of the situation. That is what happened during these times, in different proportions too. It is my inability to relate to things that prevents me to grasp it properly. Before, I thought, that if a writer was good enough, I would get it. But, as it turns out, that is not the case. Also, I think I have this sick fantasy, to see loss first hand. Now, it struck me, that maybe I won’t be strong enough to hold myself, they way I do, in my imagination. Who knows. But as I see it now, maybe I don’t want to know in the first place.