Friday, July 14, 2006

Resilient or Resigned?

The moon on the 11th of July rose in Mumbai. A full beautiful moon among clouds, softly lighting the blood stained tracks, caressing the charred unclaimed fragments of flesh and breathing over wounded souls. Agonized, distraught, confused and numbed souls of those who were wounded in the flesh and those who were wounded in the spirit.

The night saw those who sank, those who fought the nasty wave terror inflicted on them, those ashore who helped others and those who watched silently, helplessly, impotently….like me, who watched their TV sets, trying to contain a tide of tears that rose with the rising death toll.

The next morning saw the media applauding our ‘resilience’- the equanimity of a broken and shattered lot! Applauding the people who took the same trains to work. Applauding parents who sent their children to schools and offices for their near 100% attendance.

The settling day saw politicians saluting us for our bravery and the way we pick ourselves up. And it saw those who thought Mumbai was targeted because we (the same saluted, resilient Mumbaikars) with our laissez-faire attitude did not react adequately and forcefully to adversities; who accused us of shrugging off grave tragedies likes specs of dust on clothes and moving on with our lives; who indicted that we didn’t care enough for those who died, to be jolted even for a day.

These three days that followed have seen a need to ventilate in most of us. People want to talk about it again and again. They want to talk the fear, the impotence and the frustration out of their system. And each who talks has an explanation for the blast, how it could have been avoided, a potential blameworthy faculty (attitude of people, terrorist groups, political interests, economic destabilization of India by Pakistan), an advice for the government (pulling back on the peace process with Pakistan, using the nuclear weapons), a plan of action for the future (increasing railway security, increasing individual vigilance, contributing economically and emotionally to see that people around us are less frustrated) and so on.

I have largely held my silence for the past three days, providing no subjective perceptions or understanding, no opinions and merely counter-arguing a couple of remarks made by others, because I didn’t have anything to say. I have not been able to collect my thoughts adequately and without that I do not want to form an opinion for I do not want to believe what I find convenient to believe. But I have this to say to all those minds that have been collected enough to form an opinion about Mumbai:

Most of us, who got back to work the following day, live in the complete understanding that we missed being the immediate victims simply by a matter of chance. Potential victims we all are and that awareness we lull to a deep sleep on the cot farthest from our conscious mind for we do not want to share a frightful co-existence with it. We are those who live and function through testing moments and maintain our sang-froid, not because we are unfeeling but because stoicism is our primary defense. We are not an imperturbable, impassive, non-feeling lot but we acknowledge the futility of mourning. We have at some level become immune to insults against our lives and families and refuse to respond beyond a point (which can be seen as apathy or bravery whatever one chooses). We pick up our pieces quickly for we know there is no one else to do so.

For a decade and more we have seen communal tensions and we have seen reactions in their aftermath and the results. We are an experienced lot who have become judicious over years.

We have our own little individual disaster management in place…finally.


sLuG said...

wel...more like strain hardened eh? how true...that is how urban life is today in india...truly din't lik the way the media put it all

back frm my blog...yeh well...i feel life would be boring if there werent something that were seemingly nonsensical
the game is about trying to make sense out of almost everything...

and about what i wrote...i hoped it wud generate new meaning at every read...:)

indscribe said...

You have written nicely Sadia. Debates, endless debates ya sometimes you get terrified but people are less mature these days, I feel. In the past our nation has experiences so much but people were humane and less biased. Now religion comes in focus immediately....khair...
Take care

The Illusionist said...


I entirely agree with you. A lack of maturity, high reactivity and moving on after fixing blame on a convenient target are the seemingly incosequential but retrospectively grave oversights that we have succumbed to as a people. however simplistic and cliched it may sound, its time for some soul searching and time to wake up