On my way out of office yesterday, I ran into a bunch of kids on the street who were arguing over how much a cricket bat, owned by one of them, costs. The owner of the bat was absolutely appalled at the suggestion by one of his friends that the bat isn’t worth more than 85 Rs. The owner claimed that his bat couldn’t possibly be valued under 5,000 Rs. When I asked him why such a steep price, his answer was simple: because it belongs to me.
The innocence, the quarrel, the joyfulness, and even the price – it made sense. There was respite from a world full of worries in that moment of a child’s fancy. And I force myself back into that moment because it’s still difficult to write about 16th December 2014. I commit to memory childhood as it should be.
It’s difficult not because there aren’t enough words to describe the utter helplessness, enough words to give voice to the silence that descends upon one at the memory of that day, or enough words to capture the horrors humanity has seen in the last one year on other similar days.
There are enough words, and they have been written. And that is precisely why it’s difficult to write.
It is difficult because these words have not nulled the hatred that resides in us, or quenched the anger that gives birth to the violence around us, or broken the boundaries we so readily construct to belittle and curse others.
You will pray today, and by all means do; but not for the 144 departed, pray for yourself. The deceased are already in a better place, and their families might appreciate silence and respect more than continuous attention. But pray that you don’t have to be that brave, pray that your boundaries don’t come to haunt you, pray that your children grow in a world where violence isn’t a viable option.
Or better yet, act. Understand. If you can talk to just one person that you don’t know today, get to know her, understand her challenges, regrets, and dreams, you would have played a role in building a more empathetic world.
To connections, and actions.