Thursday, December 04, 2008

Bullets at the Ball

It has been a week of profound agony. All of us feel violated. It appears as if something deep within has suddenly snapped. That ten men armed with rage and AK-56 guns came stealthily in the dark of the night in dirty rubber boats and highjacked the collective conscience of a billion people looks astonishing. Many things changed on that fateful starry night. Not only did the bullets fly thick and fast in the ball room at Taj, cutting the guests to an instant death, massive holes were made in many hearts.

A full one week after the Bombay [I prefer Bombay to Mumbai] mayhem, a startled citizenry is still numb. There is fear and anger at what has happened. Last evening at a prayer meeting for the much-loved Sabina I looked on helplessly as the renowned columnist Baachi Karkaria broke down. She said she felt so guilty to have invited Sabina to her son’s wedding to Bombay. Perhaps we are all guilty at some level, I wanted to assure the elegant Baachi. I couldn’t. She was inconsolable. Just in front of me Ustad Amjad Ali Khan wept slowly. At the illustrious Lady Sri Ram College, today, each eye was tenderly moist. Is it a catharsis for losing our innocence, I can't say?

The media is full of horror tales. I’ve stopped reading the blood-cuddling accounts. It makes me go queasy in the stomach. I don’t understand the vanity of it all. What justifies the bloodshed? The answers, I know, aren’t easy to come by. The static is uneasy.

The lone idiot our notoriously ill-equipped cops managed to lay hands on has apparently blurted out that all nautical routes lead to our neighbor’s shores. I give the civil society in that poor country the benefit of doubt. They must be equally appalled as we are. However, as we know well, and others around the world may confirm, the sinister cabal, which plots and schemes this ugly terror, is mostly based out of Pakistan’s badlands. It is time the network is smashed. Who does it, can be debated.

Back home we need to fix our old hatchways.

Terrorists are cold, cruel and calculated. They kill at will. They foist their hate colored flags on our bodies. We can’t afford to stay indifferent. We can't afford to allow them to cut us to death while we are eating in a restaurant or drinking in a café or shopping at a mall. We can’t afford to let them snatch away our lifelong friends from us. We cannot afford to allow our cherished freedom to be held ransom to some twisted, idiotic ideology. We can’t afford to fear a psychotic who kills a sick woman, sleeping in her bed, to prove that he is a man. Or a martyr.

In grief
And memoriam

To humanity
And goodness
And to all those innocents whose lives were mercilessly snuffed out during those dreary days of Nov 26, 27 and 28.