on loss & life
I was living in Bombay in 1993, and my father was still stationed in Bhiwandi then - a town filled with weaving / loom factories and dairy farms, filled with religious tensions and dispute. If you didn't know yet, my father is a retired Police commissioner, who spent his career working in and around Bombay, chasing the bad guys . . . with a brief posting in Nagpur, in 1994.
First the Babri Masjid demolition and then shortly after - these blasts happened. We remained stunned. Terrified at the faceless nameless danger that lurked; saddened at the lives lost, and gripped in fear for the safety of our loved ones near and far. And yet there we were, feeling united because we all were hurting together regardless of who we bowed to, in our home altars.
The city changed too. Many buildings got barricades, security guards and metal detectors, we began to question every beat and skip in our step, started looking over our shoulders, kept a mental check of who was around us and created backup plans. There have been numerous attacks on the city since then, each trying to shake the bounce in our step. But the city perseveres strong and beautiful, chaotic and lovable as always.
The workings of the Mumbai police changed too as their commitment was questioned - when clearly, there were bigger forces at work. This long standing and honorable institution, compared in the same league as Scotland Yard and Mossad (because my dad proudly talked of it) - was burdened with a task greater than resources available. And yet, they continue to work hard to protect the city, its people and keep strong - its spirit. Even today – they do.
I have moved away from my hometown and my father has long retired, holding the incurable scars of his service on his mind, body and soul as badges of honor - he has fought long and hard for the city that he loves.
Today, I read a great article about my hometown. It comes on a day that one of the terror suspects that masterminded the 1993 attacks - was hanged. India does not take hangings' or executions lightly, from moral debates to logistical discussions - from defining right v/s wrong. Everyone has an opinion about it.
I ask that anyone who has lived, breathed, worked in this city or ANY city that gives it livelihood, feeds and educates their young, gives it shelter and allows for love and life to happen - first learn to treat that city as their home. And then ask themselves this question - what would they do, if someone barged in, raped their children, stole what little they had and then, on their way out, destroyed the furniture, tore up the bed and broke the front door? Would forgiveness, understanding or empathy for the perpetrator come easy? It would be hard to judge someone’s motivation for repeatedly contemplating violating a 'people' and even more difficult to be an apathetic judge of what the best course of action or punishment for a crime that affected the soul of a city so vast, vibrant and magnanimous – could be.
But we also wouldn't stop living life, appreciating all that we have any less because of it. We would not stop caring nor breathing, would we? Instead, it would all be dearer to us, because life is unpredictable, whether by design or fate – we don’t know what our next few hours hold. We would hope to be more respectful, more caring and forgiving, more considerate and more conscientious of our actions towards others. We know that it only takes one person to make a difference. I only hope we can find time each day to recognize the true bounties we possess – measuring happy moments, counting true friends, laughter and smiles, celebrating life – with all its pieces, knowing we have been given one more day to be the best human beings we can possibly be. We can try to be that one person – who keeps the value of life, ours and others, at the forefront.
So let us celebrate life, we can make it better for all of us!
(All the books sent out to my Kickstarter family of readers were signed this way.. I hope they take it to heart.)