30 november 2008 – terror. mumbai. 2008. sea route. taj mahal hotel. oberoi. nariman. cama. victoria. gunfire. explosions. hostages. khattam. shudh.

everyone and their grandmummies have heard of it or watched it live or  obsessively read words printed on coarse newsprint or lighted screen. blogosphere will be filled with nothing else in the days to come, this side of the himalayas. that side too. indeed more people will take up arms and place them on their plywood desks to tell the world wat they think of the nation the people the city the men the deed the response the valour the cowardice the hypocrisy the integrity the ingenuity  of the people who rescued others, and themselves, from becoming cannon fodder, to be chewed up and pat out, like so much thoo! …

by now the angry chatter and the shocked mouthing of soundless words should have given way to a cold anger, and a sense that this is not how it should have been, and worse, could have been. anger at the colossal unpreparedness, in argaubly the country’s  top city, struck 15 years after it was first ripped apart in its indian life.

the city (as its rebirth defined it) really has not seen any war and action in its short, predominantly colonial history.

and then there is this: now.

what should our response be? to be fair, 1993 claimed about 450-odd people, 2006 claimed around 350, through direct and projectedly indirect methods (people dying due to injuries which were a direct consequence of the blasts).

this time the numbers are comparable. should we conveniently forget this too,  as we had those other blasts, until another bomb set off somewhere else brought back the bad memories, flooding ? shall we continue to sit in a corner, wrapped in pashmina shawls and mouthing the words ‘great spirit of this city and its people’ as if it were a mantra that would rid us of our impotence?

some friends foned up from overseas yesterday. they were angry, as everyone was. voices raised, bitterness in tone. the futility of it all. there was a snide remark. about how now that the beautiful people were hit, the world would sit up and take notice. and how now that theyve struck the most pluralistic of this pluralistic city’s hearts, officials around the country would sit up.

i choose to be more cynical.

when is any loss of human life a problem in this country?

in an eastern state this year, some of the most bizarre communal terrorism burnt buildings and killed people. and while everyone played the blame game and then played it some more, a river broke its levees and washed away lives and homes and friends and foes. and somehow, everyone was sorry and pitiful but had barely recovered from the strain of tending to another flood and couldn’t really take it  all in so soon.

before that, people contnued to die, cities bombed at regular intervals with unerring accuracy. urban centres targeted with unerring accuracy, the attacks all claimed by an alphabet soup of activists, fighting for something, or trying to make a point.

and still the powers-that-be continued to squabble. and called names and pointed fingers and screamed more of the same unimaginative shit. “…u don’t like my club, i am accusing ure club of targeting my club… and i don’t believe my club members will do something like this, however that other club of those people might….” and blah and blah.

will anything happen? i wonder. we are at the threshold of yet another election, one that will be gripped by the memory of a bleak winter, and the pall of gloom and resentment. we shall vote, in many different ways, and cobble together a government that will have played on our fears, our grudges, and our hatred so as to win our trust.

either way, it will be divisive. and then we will go back to playing out the whole charade again, confident that the rejects of five, or ten or 13 years ago will now do a good job, chastised by the years on the fringes, and the urgency of crisis.

people will meet, and meticulously minute these meetings of meaningless small talk.

and life will go on. do u remember the last time the country made more than a perfunctory knee-jerk reaction, when the nation deicded that it had been pushed too far and that it had to show some muscle?

it was in 2001, when 6 brave soldiers and one unfortunate gardener were killed trying to save men who went to work in a round building on top of a hill, in dee-aiy-ell-ell-aiy.  clad in the finest handspun and the choicest silk, they were rattled, oh yeah, they were.  and emboldened by the troops amassing at nearby borders, they ordered a deep growl from the country’s armies, a massive buildup of force, unprecedented in the nation’s history.

“take that u wankers, how dare u kill 6 of our brave policemen, (and one unfortunate maali)…u fuck with us, and we will stand up and kick u in the balls till u writhe on the floor”

.

snap.

nirvana: (waking up) hey! that’s not what they said!

(he is drowned by loud clapping from the rows, as people stand up to applaud a government that had bravely protected itself, and in maintaining its integrity, had kept the dignity of its subjects intact.)

jai hind.