Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I wake up in the morning to find a troubled sms from Arjun, “Something terrible happened. Newspaper front page.”

Fearing another massacre in the name of region or religion where me, my friends and my family always miraculously survive, I check the newspaper. “Assam boat Mishap” it said, “over 200 dead” and I quite surprisingly heaved a sigh of relief. I spent another twenty minutes evaluating my cruelty and insensitivity. How could I sigh? How dare I sigh? ONLY 200? ONLY A BOAT MISHAP? Nothing less than a group of militants or a death toll of 500 will do to invoke a great deal of sadness. It’s a lot like Kill Bill you see. You scream and claw your skin terrified at the sight of the first gruesome murder. By the end of it, blood is only red, only some kind of a liquid that stops churning your stomach. Gore is only a term. It’s all a psychological mumbo jumbo. You master the craft of avoiding sympathizing and feeling or getting horrified. Growing up with Khasi-Bengali communal wars, which alarmed my parents so much, that they dislocated me from my roots much to my dismay, by moving to a place full of hostile Bengalis because “it is safer to be with one’s own kind” and in that process, erasing all possibilities of a mixed community around me (I don’t blame them), I have learnt to grow up an immunity to face mass death. Because in Shillong, you could be jogging in the morning when you bump into a body. A dead body hanging from the street lamp. Beheaded. Or a massively mutilated dead body right outside your door. And as if mutilation wasn’t enough, the murderers will have shaved the poor fellow’s eye brows as well for special effects. And you think ohh, another dead body?  If it is not death that you read about first thing in the morning, it is a celebrity’s redundant love life. It’s a bargain for life. I have learnt to not let it affect my emotions. More dead people. Ohh. More prisoners, ohh. They filled up the cemeteries and jails. Is that so? Only one person dead? Not enough I must say! 

Arjun texts me back, “No Adidas. Some management issue.”



Captain Barbossa said...

i know what you mean. my dad serves in srinagar, before that he was in congo, siachen, dras. so yeah, he's seen a freakload of death. and yt for someone who's seen death so closely for no fault of his/her own, due to natural causes or in the field (firing etc.), the deaths that do end up affecting him, are deaths by suicide. every day, around 1-2 soldier(s) in Kashmir kill themselves and yet this suicide is left unreported. and if a civilian does the same an officer gets court martialed. and then i see people i know talk about suicide so lightly it physically hurts me. of course we can joke about it, but here's a limit. deth is not a joke. suicide is not a joke. and there isnt cause for relief if the death toll for any event is less than 100. there just isnt.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Damn right I know what you mean, especially that comparison with Kill Bill.

Insulated from all brutality, in the bhodrolok neighbourhood of Park Street, or the upper class Brahmin areas of Nagpur, things you wrote about were never a part of my imagination.

But brutality was always there, lurking in the background. And I only understood this when I became a journalist.

Now, after a stint in Orissa and the killing fields of interior Vidarbha, I realise that after the first shock, death grows upon you.

I don't know if it's a good or bad thing, but experiences like these do enlighten you. More importantly, you grow up, without realising that you've grown up.

---- Arnav