I have been moved by news reports have turned my face away from some, refused to read a few, but no news story, none ,have reduced me to tears .It happened today as I read the centre page write up in the Hindu by Reem Wasay about the barbaric macabre slaughter of innocence in Peshawar,Pakistan. For the first real time, ”words are insufficient “ is not a cliché. Indeed since the news broke I have been raving and ranting as many middle class armchair activist, about the choice of punishment the perpetrators should have got had they been captured alive. Yes, because death for them has been absolution, almost a reward that they so insanely crave for and get at such cost to humanity.
Perhaps it was the fact that the children who became cannon fodder in the sub continental Armageddon for religious domination were the same age as mine. Perhaps it was the fact that we are all too human. However the last thing I would do is to describe this act as inhuman. Because No animal I repeat NO animal will kill with such impunity such callous barbarity. It is left to us humans to find new words ,indeed new lexicons to describe our civilization or the lack of it ,circa 2015.
Every day as my children get ready for school, I help out in small measures-filling their water bottles with lukewarm water, mixing their tea or coffee, getting the breakfast from the kitchen prepared by their loving mother. Indeed these scenes would have been repeated endlessly in the hundreds of houses of those children who have now returned for ever. How does anyone make any sense of this horror? How does anybody reach this stage of paranoia which drives you to kill? How does one react to this as a father, a mother, a teacher?
My first reaction as I said was that of any ordinary human. Get those bas**** responsible for this and inflict the most vicious punishment on them. Do not let them die and even appear to their mad followers to have attained jannath.
But as ordinary human beings we have more to do than rave and rant. As we settle down back (as we all will) to our funny commercials on TV and funnier ones on our mobiles, let us not forget the blighted spring of Peshawar. Let us first think that the society we live in so used to violent methods of protest and persuasion that only the most macabre of them will shake us. We have come to believe that might is right. We think it alright to hold towns and cities to ransom in the name of sundry demands, destroy pubic property at will, kill people in the name of caste ,pride, religion, what not. We shrug and move on. Some even subliminally justify some of these. May be it is time to stop this violent discourse which has perniciously permeated the society.
As an ardent admirer of Gandhiji I often wonder what he would have said in response to this kind of unspeakable horrors. Would he have still advocated non-violence? I do not have the answers, because I am not privy to the great soul’s thoughts. But as for a mere mortal like me, I would like to believe that my holding on (dearly ) to the principle that more violence is not the answer, comes out of a deep conviction and not weakness .
We may not like it, but the honour killers of children, the child traffickers of the subcontinent ,the employers who abuse child labourers are all removed from the depraved Taliban only by degrees. By our tolerance of these violent impositions of faith, pride and prejudice ,we are condoning violence and teaching our children might is right. Gandhiji might be old fashioned but he was right in not allowing violence to win. He was once asked whether he will change an opinion in the face of imminent death.
“No” he said “in that case they will have my dead body, not my opinion”
The corridors of tomorrow’s spring in Peshawar have been lined with dead bodies, each one an attempt to make us believe that violence pays. We should not heed that macabre call. We should continue to believe that humanity is still around, that the next stranger that you see would open the door for you and not shoot at you. They can have all the dead bodies that they want. They will not have my opinion on the basic goodness of goodness itself. Period.