mumbai -the pain and the shame
I speak because I exist. Had I existed just because I speak, I would have never known silence. I imposed silence on myself for the past few days, not just to mourn but to watch. And as I watch, words and thoughts are piling up and pressurizing me to write. Newschannels have left me numb- with pain and anger.
Mumbai was tragic. It was terrifying. Even without the melodramatic exaggerated expressions of our newscasters it was terrifying. Death became statistical while Drama became the priority. Even as the brave and committed men in uniform were battling on behalf of us, everything was presented on the little screens with the usual fierce journo-competition that takes precedence over prudence and proper conduct. What if even as they kept claiming that the big hotels had no TV connections, someone near me in Chennai calls his terrorist-buddies and tell that there are commandos being air dropped and there is a man with a rocket launcher? Barkha and Arnab were at their usual best – dramatizing even the English cricket team’s decision not to play two more matches. In fact, I learnt that VPSingh had died much later in the day since he did not get the flash news that just gets in– the English team was more newsworthy for our news givers. And then came the discussions!
I was spared of the dramatic loading of a gun by a superstar but a starry writer compensated with a ’wowable’ response. Shoba’a’ is infuriated and indignant. Enough has become enough for her. She had the audacity to say live on TV that being the highest tax-payers in the country they needed more protection. Is tax a bullet proof suite (pun intended) ? Just because I pay less tax, as I earn less than the exquisitely dressed lady, should I take a couple more bullets? I am not supporting the idiotic if not chauvinistic comment from a saffron goon about lipstick and candles. I do not expect anything sensible or sensitive from them. But Ms.De ? She was proud of the whole of India in her book, and now she is becoming as regional as the MNS goons.
Mumbai means as much to me as Chennai. The murders in the railway station are as pathetic as those in the star restaurants. But is this the time to say enough is enough for Mumbai alone. It is now (as always) the whole of India. The pain is national. The shame is national. The whole country has had enough of rubbish- the latest being the regional chauvinism.
And it was not even a Mumbai citizen’s natural reaction to an assault on her/his peace and existence. It was the rich man’s annoyance that his citadels of comfort too are mere illusions in the face of terror which had hitherto struck mostly people on the streets, buses and trains. This was the shameless sub-text of those TV discussions. Their anguish though called a Mumbai citizen’s anger was more a response to the affront on the protection that their affordability was promising. True, Mumbai is the frequent target, but the second attack should have seen all these people out shouting and demanding a better system in place. Even now, if this nth number of attack had not been at those two landmark-but-rich-man’s hotels, I wonder how much of real tears would have dripped down those cheeky cheeks. This was the shameful shadow of the terrible tragedy.
We have lit the candles, carried placards, condoned and cried in real pain or with appropriate emotions as the correct response, and now we shall get ready to vote for the same bunches- our politicians, who have continued to prove their mettle. A Marxist dared to say no dog would care about a house- a house in which resides the father of a slain army man! A minister quoted film dialogues! BJP in their confusion over whether or not to praise the slain ATS chief say that the anger on politicians is not fair. The congress having decided to sack its chief minister could not find a replacement even after 30 hours! Thank god we did not need the permission of the `beloved’ Bush to say we are angry. If this is the way this country is going to behave, then will its million Gods be able to do anything?