Open up your mind and your potential reaches infinity…

Archive for September 19, 2011

When hatred reigns.

It was with helplessness that I read an article in one of the newspapers about how school kids in certain areas of Karachi were not able to attend their school safely because of prevailing tensions between two ethnic groups- both Pakistanis, both Muslims of the same sect. A kid claimed he was friends with his schoolmates from the other ethnic community and they even played together after school, but now the same friends say they could not play with him anymore.

Another article read of how Hindus in Baluchistan who have been living there for centuries were fearful of sending their kids to schools due to escalated kidnappings for ransom and killings of the community. Although they have no animosity with the Muslims in neighborhood,  they all scared to mingle.

In brief, the hatred of a handful prevailed over the helplessness of the lot.

Before I could finish, the news broke of Karachi blast in the DHA where along with others, an innocent passerby mom and her 5 year old son got killed.
What prevailed here too was nothing but hatred.

I know first hand, exactly how it feels to be helpless in the face of hatred.

I was a first year medical student in  Lady Hardinge Medical College, situated in the heart of New Delhi, when Indira Gandhi was assassinated on 31 October 1984. The mayhem spread as faster than the spread of the news. As if a riot button was switched on. Delhi’s panorama was puking smoke of hatred from every direction.

Parents were coming to pick up their daughters, from the college hostel, and narrating the harrowing tales of watching limbs and other body parts splattered across the killing fileds that Delhi roads had turned into. I remember how a Sikh girl from my class sat cautiously frozen in the crowd of girls in the hostel’s TV room.  She broke down when she learnt that her brother had left home an hour ago to pick her up. No one reassured her not to cry or to worry for her brothers safety.  Not a single parent even offered to drop her home. Why would I blame others, when I felt the same helplessness, and feared what will happen when my parents come, will they be reluctant to take her too.

Ultimately, along with her and a few other girls, I ended up staying back to spend the terrible night in the hostel. The city had turned into an open house of looting and rampage. Next day on my way back home,  all I saw was roads stained with fresh blood, a charred and empty shop after every few well preserved shops and selectively  burn’t buildings along the way to home. Though I did not have the courage to give a second look, but I did see a glimpse of most likely a charred body lying inside a burnt shop.

At home everyone shared their eye witness accounts. Our house boy Jung Bahadur described how the shacks(jhuggis) in the slums of Mangolpuri and Sultanpuri were stocked with stacks of VCRs, TVs and other electronics. He even shared how some dead bodies were piled together, doused with kerosene and burnt to ashes. Papa had witnessed a headless body being carried in an autorickshaw.

I do not remember how and when did the Sikh girl go home, but we learnt days later that her brother could neither arrive at the college, nor ever return back home. His body was  identified some days later in the morgue.

Again, amidst the helplessness of us all, hatred prevailed like a king.

The same story was repeated with my parents, as they were left in the cold, during the riots in December 1992, that followed Babri Masjid demolition. Many Muslim houses were chalked in Delhi, including those of IAS officers, doctors, cricketers, poets etc.

In fact some like Bashir Badr’s house in Meerut was actually attacked. It was after this incident that Bashir Badr wrote this shair:
Log toot jaatey hain, ek ghar banane mein
Tum taras nahin khaatey bastiyaan jalane mein.

Being  staunch beleivers of Indian secularism, my parents had proudly built a house in 1977 in a University housing cooperative compound where his colleagues and other University professors resided. We were only 2 Muslim houses in a colony of 238 lots, but that was besides the point. However, that cold and lonely December night none of our neighbors, his University colleagues or friends came forward to even reassure them of support in case of any danger. There was a criminal silence from friends and neighbors.

As my mother narrated later, that was the first time she saw my father cry with tears, not for his life, but at the ‘sudden’ transformation in hearts of trusted and indeological friends for several decades. My parents had packed their car with valuables, in case they had to leave. Once the crisis was over, a few friends did come up, begging their helplessness.

Once again, amidst the intelligentsia of the society, hatred took an upper hand .

My grandfather often narrated of an incident when during the 1947 riots a Sikh boy had come to drop a pregnant Muslim woman to Matia Mahal,  Jama Masjid area, but was not let to go back alive, despite the helpless cries from the woman’s family to spare her saviour.

The helpless family members could do nothing as the hatred reigned.

I know I can never be able to guess from where this business of hatred all began, but can we really dare dream a day when the hatred propagated by a handful of vested interests will not prevail over the helpless masses ?

This reminded me of a discourse I had read about the controversy between Tagore and Gandhi during the non-cooperation movement against the British in 1930s.

Tagore had warned Gandhi by saying: “….besides, hatred of the foreigner could later turn into a hatred of Indians different from oneself.”

Gandhi on the other hand believed that this non-cooperation would dissolve  Hindu-Muslims differences.

Ultimately Tagore was proved right, and Gandhi had to shift his  non cooperation  against the British into a non violent movement.

The same corollary of Tagore’s could easily be applied to the situation in Pakistan, too.

What began as a hatred for the foreign faiths has turned into hatred among Pakistanis different from each other.

And ironically a handful of vested interest first made the helpless common Pakistanis hate the foreign faiths and now have turned the Pakistanis of different sects and ethnicities hate each other.

This business of hate has to stop somewhere. Whether it is for a fellow Indian/ Pakistani of different ethnicity, of a different faith or of a foreigner of different color, we have to shout in the face of hatred: “Enough is enough”.

Or else, as poet E E Cummings lamented: Hatred bounces.

A tale of two kitties

Just a week ago, arrived Taara, a 9 week old kitten, to our home. We were apprehensive what reaction the cat already present at home,  Maaya, would have.
Taara was left in the carrying box in the middle of the living room, while we keenly awaited Maaya’s reaction.

The kids had searched over the Internet about the adjustment process of the new cat at home. Since cats are territorial creatures, the two should be kept separate and it takes a gradual process over several months for them to accept each other.

Maaya’s first reaction to Taara scared us. Her tail got all puffed up and the back curved signalling danger. She smelled the kitten through the cage and roared. Hence, both had to be separated immediately to different rooms.

Since Taara kept crying in the tiny carrier, we let her out and she was allowed to survey the new home. She jumped and bumped like a puff ball smelling every nook and corner of the house. It seemed as if she was hunting for her mother and two siblings who were left behind in the other home.

In the second attempt, when the two felines were made to face each other, Taara seemed unwary of Maaya and in fact followed her everywhere. Having come from a family of cats and being a baby, perhaps she hadn’t yet developed the fear of strangers.

Maaya looked very scared though. She would recede as Taara attempted to get closer. The more she reversed, the faster Taara got to reach Maaya. She climbed over the table and jumped over the frightened, double-sized Maaya with full force. The kids would run to pull Taara away and distract her with a feathery toy.
In another instance, when Maaya was sitting on the chair and wagging her hanging tail, Taara kept playing with it from underneath the chair, until Maaya realised and ran away. Taara was all out to befriend Maaya, but being shrewd and cautious (what we call worldywise) Maaya wouldn’t give her a lift.

Maaya was kept confined to  the bedroom, as Taara was allowed to run around the rest of the house, to make her feel free. But the bundle of naughtiness and hautiness wouldn’t still be happy, and kept mewing non stop sitting outside the closed door.

Different feeding dishes were set for the two cats so that they do not get at logger heads while eating. But as if Taara would let that happen. When Maaya started to eat from her designated dish, Taara shoved her head in to it as well, and with a header pushed poor Maaya away. As soon as we witnessed this, they were separated, and Taara was given a new plate with the same food at the other corner of the space. But with no second thoughts, she abandoned it, and again went where Maaya was eating. My daughter then moved Maaya to the new plate, but then so did Taara, with no delay.

For a few days, life seemed like a referee, always on ‘attention’  for a cease fire.  Taara tried all her pranks to  tease or come in Maaya’s way and she provoked her to get angry.  After having got over as a threat, Maaya became a bit high-handed with Taara. But still she was no match to the little evil monster Taara. Barely less that half the size of Maaya, would she wrestle with Maaya as an equal. In fact, most of the provocations came from Taara.

On one occasion, she even managed to scratch Maaya on her snout, leaving a red mark on the pink ridge between Maaya’s beautiful eyes. But Maaya, being a gentlewoman, did not respond with same aggression.

As Maaya felt at ease with Taara, the scene was worth a witness,  when Taara sat at the door mewing and crying for her friend, while Maaya jutted her arm from the space beneath the door, as if trying to reach her crying friend.

All Taara perhaps saw was a mother figure in Maaya. Once when Maaya was asleep, she managed to push her head into Maaya’s belly attempting to suckle. The sight was so painful that we thought of taking her back to her mother, as she perhaps missed her mom’s suckling. My daughter attempted to feed her milk with a syringe, but knowing very well that this wasn’t the real alternative.

Licking by Taara perhaps kindled the maternal instincts in Maaya too and she started to lick back Taara over her face and neck initially, but eventually over all her body.
This has repeated over several times in the past two days. Now, they walk together, sit together to watch TV, feed together and even sleep together, cuddling each other.
In fact, they even go to loo together. As one is in the litter doing the job, the other sits outside, on guard perhaps.

It has been just a week now, and they seemed to have developed the warmest of relations anyone can imagine.

Still, they do wrestle and pounce on each other and we need to watch that it does not turn ugly…but perhaps it wouldn’t. After all they are not nasty human beings, they are lovely cats.

Daredevil Taara, testing Maaya’s patience.

Maaya and Taara watching TV together

Taara and Maaya sleeping like siamese twins

Tag Cloud