Friday, November 26, 2010

Two years on

Exactly two years ago, almost to the hour, I was downstairs in our basement, doing my usual combination of watching TV while tweeting/blogging/Facebooking. The parents were in their room, watching TV. Suddenly, the mother called; NDTV was saying shoot-outs were happening in South Bombay. No one knew exactly what was happening; it seemed like some gang war had broken out.

I called my friend who lived in Powai at the time to ask where he was; he was home, but told me to keep him updated since he didn't own a TV. The brother, in faraway Boston, tended to get worried when attacks happen here, especially since mum and I had almost got caught in the GK blast just two months prior, so I shot off this mail to him:
shootouts happening all over south bombay... not too sure at this point if it's a gang war or terror attack. cafe leopold, taj hotel, oberoi hotel, vt station. find out if your friends are ok.
I wasn't very big on punctuation back then.

By midnight, we knew it was a terrorist attack, but it hadn't yet struck home just how bad the situation was. I put up this utterly frivolous post which I have never yet forgiven myself for, shut down my computer, and settled down to watch TV. And for the next two hours, watched in increasing horror as Bombay burned.

26 November 2008. It's one of those dates when practically everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when the news came in.

2008 as a year was bad for India. There were attacks happening every few months, if not weeks. Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Delhi - all these cities got hit one after the other that year. And this is what we heard about. Back then the Naxal situation wasn't even getting the media attention it has got over the past year or so; no one was even bothered about Kashmir.

But Bombay caught everyone's attention. The sheer audacity, the targets, the execution, and the way it went on for nearly 60 hours - quite literally, the world watched as Bombay burned.

Everyone knows someone who was affected - directly or indirectly. Even after it was over, emotions ran high for weeks, with India wanting action. Heads had to roll, and India didn't care whose heads rolled. Kasab got the fastest trial and verdict ever, and is now sitting in jail, awaiting the day his sentence is finally carried out.

But a post by Dilip D'Souza asks a very pertinent question: why this and not others? There's a lady he has quoted in his article which hit me.
“If we have a remembrance for one,” she said, “I want it for all. I want it for everyone who dies like this. Otherwise we wonder, what did our sons die for?”
Two days ago, on the roads of Delhi, I saw a piece of graffiti saying 'Justice for 26/11 victims. What about victims of 1984 riots?' As I tweeted when I saw that, it's never going to be enough in this country. There will always something else that'll come to mind and make you feel the despair.

1984, 1992, 1993, 2002. Events that make me cringe when I think of them. Events where justice hasn't happened even today.

I'm not trying to take away from the trauma of 2008. It was a terrible time - I personally know someone who was in Singapore at the time, and whose mother was in Hong Kong. And whose father spent the night hiding in a restaurant in Colaba. And he couldn't tell his mother this, because she was in hospital with her daughter, who gave birth to her first child that night. Can you imagine what this guy was going through? Knowing that he may just lose his father the same night he gets a nephew?

But see, that's the thing. This time, we were hit, so to speak. We knew people who were impacted. It wasn't faceless, nameless Indians dying in some corner of another city. It was people who have access to twitter, to blogs, to freaking candles.

Why don't we ask for the same kind of justice for other victims? Why don't we speak out for any other tragedy?

This is a very hypocritical post. Apart from sharing a whole bunch of links on twitter, what have I ever done, after all?

I don't even know the point of this post. It's more rambling catharsis than anything else.

It's just... the bleakness of it all is very frustrating at times. Isn't it?

1 comment:

Anil P said...

Too often it's the scale of an event that will determine coverage, and also the duration of the 'scale'.!