Strange title you think? This post has been on my contemplative mind for quite some time. I was unsure of its aftermath until fear decided to take a backseat. So begins a narration which had hitherto been just a soliloquy.
Like most Indians, I have always been an ardent patriot towards my country. I’ve grown up watching our freedom struggle imitated in movies. The Bhagat Singh tales being my favourite. Most of them ended late into the night and I watched with moist eyes till the last credit vanished into the blank screen. I returned to bed with a feeling of pride to be a morsel of a country so powerful. Those movies now remind me of how electrified my body got when I heard the word INDIA.
INDIA, the land where raw beauty resides, where the wind carries the warmth of the earth, where people still prefer to split their full coffees in half with friends, where the anthem can churn emotions from a rock, where the simplest of procedures seem elaborate, where happiness is found in a paper cone of groundnuts, where public transport seats are allotted by handkerchiefs, where celebrities are worshipped fiercely, where the rules are never understood, where faith is omnipresent, where the digging never ends, where perfection is found in imperfections. It is this imperfection that I fell in love with.
I have always wondered what makes India the country it is.
The culture? The people? The tolerance? Maybe all three. I was proud that my country is tolerant. I believed in its ability to fight back.
Not anymore. We are so tolerant that we have grown accustomed to inhumane behaviour that periodically haunts us. The child who watched brave men fight for justice has now grown into a woman who can only see terror eat her country by a notch everyday. I’m sure most of my countrymen were glued to their televisions like me from the 26th – 29th of November ’08, horrified by what had occurred in Mumbai. All we heard in those three days were gunshots and wailing. All we saw was dismay and anger. All we felt was pain. I shudder to think of how the people at the venue must have felt. They did not know that they would smile for the last time. Tears roll down my cheeks when I think of what their last thoughts were. A father must’ve thought about his daughter who wanted a present he could not afford. He must be regretting not being able to see her expression when she finds it hidden in her closet. A son must have hated himself for having fought with his mother over something silly as meeting friends and having slammed the door on her face when she asked him to stay indoors to spend time with her. Would she ever know that he loved her dearly despite their frequent tiffs?
A sister must have thought of her brother who called her minutes before she was shot to ask her to come home soon so he could show her that he finally learnt how to ride his bike. Would he know that she could teach him all his life even if he would not get it?
A husband must have thought of his wife who is waiting at his in-laws’ for him to hold his baby for the very first time. Did she know that he would still love her just as much with the baby around? A couple must’ve thought about their toddler who will soon be an orphan in a country that will do nothing for him. Will he remain an orphan all his life?
If a common person like me who was safe several miles away can feel such pain, I can only try hard to imagine the trauma and anger of the families of the victims who relive it everyday.
My countrymen have paid a heavy price and tolerance can only agitate their angry hearts. Today I ask- Why are we so tolerant?! Why are we so imperfect?! Is the fate of an Indian to only die in a blast? Have we even accepted it? Will our leaders EVER consider safeguarding its citizens? These are one of those eternally unanswerable questions.
From the 26th-29th, I mourned for my countrymen and also for the patriot that died inside me. It is sad but I no longer believe my country’s ability to fight back.The truth is that we never will.
We are deafened by terror and maybe even emotionally attached to it. We sympathize and forget like it never happened. I wonder if our blood has diluted. Maybe our great fighters had thick blood to churn the enormous amounts of loyalty they had towards the country.
I no longer feel proud as I don’t see the courage my countrymen once possessed. I do not think I need to live the trauma to declare this. It is true that I still hope that the thirst for justice and peace will never dry in the throats of my countrymen.
I earnestly hope that one day we will fight back or at least attempt to.
( This post is for all the people who were directly and indirectly affected by inhumane behaviour. Writing is the least I could do. RIP )