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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Mumbai ko gussa kyo aata hai

This column, about anger ' or the lack of it is going to get me many angry responses I'm sure.
The thing is amidst all this talk of Mumbai being angry, very very angry, Mumbai asking questions, Mumbai not taking things lying down, Mumbai standing up, shaking its fist hunting down the guilty, settling scores ' I wonder what's wrong with me that I don't feel any anger.
Sadness yes, I feel enormous sadness, compassion, empathy sympathy. But I look deep in my heart in the darkest recesses for that teeny bit of anger, anger that will blaze through the pain, anger that will enable me too to sit in TV studios with high-pitched anchors that look in to cameras with their jaws set firmly and say, 'We can feel Mumbai's anger.' Anger whose presence will indicate that I am alive, I have normal human responses, and I belong to those multitude of my fellow beings who say we demand our rights, we will bring down governments who have not protected us, we will search and find those responsible for Tuesday's acts, we will kill them, stamp out their existence destroy their progeny. But yet, there is nada, nothing, no fire no brimstone.
Which makes me believe that perhaps I am not alone in this response. Perhaps there are others like me who too cannot respond to the blasts with anger.
Mumbaikars who in their hearts know that however easy it is to blame the railway authorities and politicians and police and intelligence for not averting the blasts, there was little they could do in the situation: People who see our overcrowded, bursting-at-the-seams-about-to-explode city and know that the fault lies not in the easy targets before us, but in deeper places: the fact that Mumbai attracts thousands of settlers each day, the fact that lakhs use an outmoded and crumbling form of transport, the fact that when terror strikes even the most sophisticated cities like London or New York are helpless in its face.
And I believe there are enough like me who are disturbed by the mood for revenge that seems to have set in. I watch people who ought to know better commend George Bush and America for its response to 9/11. The same people who were appaled by America's heavy handed response. Who are suddenly baying for blood. As if revenge has ever resulted in a cessation of violence. As if an eye for an eye would not leave the whole world blind.
Call me a wimp, but I am sure there are others like me who will weigh in for thoughtfulness introspection at times like this. It may not make for very striking TV sound bytes, and its so much sexier to be strident.
I believe there are other people like me who in their personal as well as public lives respond to injustice not with revenge but trying to rise above it. That is the way I have personally coped with every challenge that has come my way. Telling myself that those who have wronged me will get their comeuppance. That my job is only to become stronger, bigger, better. Perhaps for Mumbaikers too this is a valid response. Leaving aside thoughts of blame and revenge and busying itself becoming stronger, bigger, better in every way it can.
I told you this column might make you angry. Very very angry. And the irony is that it's about anger, and the lack of that I feel...

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