Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Lost in Post - Mumbai Mail 6

To a niece

My Dear Niece,

A month or so back, while we were returning from a party you asked me if I was patriotic. Your very tone had warned me that I was in for debate for which I was hardly in a mood, so I had asked you why you asked. You then audaciously told me that at home you, your brother and your cousin ( Did you say your mummy as well? I don't clearly remember…but I hope not!) were one group as against your papa and Mukund Uncle. That they stated that they were patriotic but you didn't think so. You again asked me if I was and I said, yes, I am patriotic. You laughed derisively and said, if I am patriotic what I am doing for India. I tried to explain to you that one doesn't have to do something concrete to show one's patriotic feelings. I said, I still stand in attention whenever I hear the national anthem… and that I take pride in my country's heritage and culture. You refused to be convinced. I said, even though your papa and your Periyappa do not reside in India and work there they are all playing a part in the Indian economy. You with that cocky confidence the life in an affluent country like UAE has instilled in you, mocked at me and your Papa saying that we are pretenders. I, not savouring the unpleasant taste your attitude left in my mouth, begged to differ and closed the conversation.

Last week, we witnessed an unparalleled tragedy in Mumbai. I have been to Mumbai only twice… I do not even remember what landmarks I saw during those trips. The pictures I have in my mind of Mumbai have all been gleaned from Hindi movies and news channels. I have no emotional attachment to the place… Yet, I spent almost 50 of the 60 traumatic hours undergone by the people of Mumbai, glued to the TV screen… my heart bleeding, flinching and beating hard as I watched a city being ravaged by heartless terrorist animals!

I sat there bereft of speech as courageous police officers led from the front and fell pray to terrorists' bullets… I sat there looking for traces of the so called 'netas' among the crowds of common man… I sat there wondering where the 'senas' of MNS and the likes had holed up while 'Indian' (mind you… not merely marathi… but those from all parts of India…) soldiers, commandos and policemen valiantly fought for 60 hours… I sat there in disgust when politicians tried vociferously to campaign while a city burnt… while they slung mud at others and pompously claimed their own tenure to have been better… they sounded as childish, stupid and inane as you, dear niece, did when you asked me if I was patriotic.

I reiterate… I am patriotic. So you asked me what I did to show my patriotism… I stood up in front of the TV screen, bowing my head in silence with the denizens of Mumbai…and your uncle, Periyappa, was right beside me. We grieved in our hearts, we still do, with the kith and kin of the unsuspecting victims of the wild animals let loose on us from neighbouring jungles with the intent to kill.

I join in the public outcry against the likes of R. R. Patil, Vilasrao Deshmukh, V. S. Achuthanandan, Naqvi and even L K Advani, who couldn't find it in him to postpone a campaign in order to participate in an all party meeting summoned at such a time of national crisis… I wish there is accountability for such behaviour… I wish the common man would realize just how much these elected donkeys are making fools of us… Anger surges in my veins… anger that demands some positive action…

This anger, this silence and the tears that rolled down my cheeks as the Last Post sounded from the bugles as a Gajendra Singh or an Unnikrishnan or a Hemant Karkare was laid to rest… that is another shade of my patriotism. It is blazing red in colour, not unlike the flames that erupted from the iconic Taj Hotel… brown like the dried blood on the floors of CST and the rooms of the Trident, Taj and Nariman House… it is dark like the skin and uniform of the brave commandos who faced death defiantly… it is a raw green in its pain… BUT IT IS NOT YELLOW… like the skins of the politicians who are fighting for their chair…

Yes…I am deeply patriotic, dear niece… perhaps you'll understand the feelings once you go back to the land of your birth and LIVE there… This land where we are temporary residents is safe, clean and rich… yet, you are just passing through here. You don't belong there. Any day, you can be asked to leave. When you have to roost at the end of the day, you will have to go back to the country where your parents were born and brought up… where I was born and brought up… Be it any corner of that vast heavenly land, you'll realize, that's home… That realization is the essence of patriotism. In the meantime, I'll wait for you to grow up and mature before engaging in pompous debates for the sake of debating!

Affectionately ,



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