Thursday, 22 November 2012

A Hanging and a Civilization Gone Wild

When I was younger, I'd ask my folks when I'd grow up and they'd say, 'one day…' There was no hurry to launch me in the world. Agreed, that my lack of preparedness led to my undoing again and again. It dragged me through hot burning embers but, I'm glad I got all the time in the world to burn my hands and sundry other parts to learn from my mistakes. Though I may not be much the wiser but, I have realized that I did not snap midway because I took my time, made mistakes, learnt from them and then, 'grew up'. 

My serious endeavor all through was to keep calm and be happy. I was touched by what AR Rahman had said in his much-underplayed Oscar speech, "...all my life I had a choice of hate and love. I chose love and I'm here..." 

All our lives we have choices sometimes too many but, never not. 

I too made mine from the palette available to me. I tried to choose the good ones learning from my parents, my teachers and my mentors, compassion, selflessness, faith and patience. Never once did they give up on me when I faltered and fell on my face. My friends too did not laugh they just proffered their hands and picked me up. In time I too learnt to choose love over hate. For this, many have called me, ‘spineless’, ‘na├»ve’ and ‘pseudo-secularist crowd pleaser’. I wear these badges with pride for as Matthew said in the Bible, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the world”.
When I had watched ‘The Roman Holiday’ for the first time, I was struck by how Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck’s reporter character) plays the perfect gentleman and lets the Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) go back to where she belongs and decides also to not file the story of his short-lived affair with the runaway princess.

In my eyes Joe was the epitome of chivalry and honor. Not many journalists I know would do what he had done. Like Joe, I have always tried to live by a code/ philosophy. It is mostly hard but, in time it becomes easy.

Old Hollywood is full of inspiration. Remember Clint Eastwood in, ‘A Few Dollars More’ and Gregory Peck in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’?

Humaneness is an over-used and overrated word that everyone bandies around but only a handful of the billions who occupy the world actually practice. Most find it easier to choose hate over love, destruction over creation because they are easier to choose.

Today as most of India rejoices the hanging of a terrorist, I stand apart aghast and watch dumb-founded. Agreed that the likes of him need to be plucked out and removed from the society but, when a society that is a part of such an old and glorious culture gets together to celebrate a hanging I see a lynch mob and not a democratic country.

I watch the media interviewing an eight-year-old girl who is lauding a hanging and demanding more such ‘events’.

I read a Tweet by a liquor baron who refuses to pay his airlines staff for months saying ‘beer is on the house’ in honor of the hanging and I shudder with distaste.

I hear another elderly leader whose promise to fight corruption has found him supporters cutting across society seek ‘public hanging of terrorists’ and I think, where will this lead us?

Today, I look at a band of reckless, irresponsible and immature people making much of a hanging of a man whose aim was to kill and die, for which he was prepared and ready. Do they really think this as a retribution for his sins and more important, is this justice and solace for those who were brutally killed and maimed in the massacre that took place exactly four years ago?

I think this is a moment to rebuild. This is a moment to try and install peace and this is the time to stand together and demand why such incidents happen at all with such frequency in our country.

It is time we stopped and looked around us to see what is actually wrong. It is not a foreign hand that is a threat to us. It is regional and religious politics that is causing slowly an irreparable damage that will have far reaching effects which could change the course of our history. Looking at the child, a girl, confidently chirp on camera saying, the government did a good thing hanging Kasab and demanding Afzal Guru’s head on a platter next, I thanked my parents for letting me take my own time growing up with a calm head into maturity.

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