Sunday, September 20, 2015

Whose martyr is this?

“And the CM prays for his jannah” reads the last line of the press communiqué. That is the official elegy for the three-year old Burhan, who was killed in his father’s lap the other day in a village near Sopore. I, quite frankly, had pledged to tear myself away from whatever keeps happening in our neck of woods on a day-to-day basis and instead keep my focus entirely on some creative endeavors that I am undertaking but the senselessness of it drags you right back in. There is no escaping this.

By now I’m utterly convinced that we inhabit a very broken world. Those who perhaps took a call to bump off the kid’s father might not have anticipated the new situation but the wickedness of Kashmir’s dirty wars is such that anything goes. There would be condemnations and the press will run a few stories and then it is back to square one. The debate on beef shall resume.

Here is the catch though: As a society we fail to understand that something profound is happening to us. We think, Oh! As long as we are in our comfort zones — in our big brick-and-glass-homes, as long as it is some poor kid in the countryside, it is perhaps OK. Can’t happen to us, for sure. The problem with this sort of logic is profounder than what we might even anticipate. Our complacency clearly points to something deeper. At an emotional level we have ceased to be tender, to be human.

It does not require telling but we need to do more than express cynicism. Yes, life must go on but what we must not fail to remember is that empathy is the most essential characteristic of a civilization. The silk carpets in our homes, our shiny new roofs or our new-found fascination for full-length beards don’t necessarily make us cultured. We must instead ask ourselves why is this happening to us, to our future?

Most of this talk around ‘unidentified’ and ‘identified’ is bunkum. We are politically intelligent enough to understand who pulls the trigger. The slaughter and hard knocks have gone on for too long. And it has taken the shape of what wise people call reductio ad absurdum. How can we allow this to be carried on to such an absurd extreme? How can toddlers be allowed to become casualties in some senseless agency warfare?

And then we have the gall to wish everyone ‘heaven’. Let’s not blame the CM or our pro-freedom ideologues but honestly this entire concept of martyrs at pearly gates and paradise’s milky streams has gotten a little daffy. Life is precious, especially if it is a three-year old’s and does not deserve to be snuffed out anywhere — neither on a Turkish beach nor in a Kashmiri village. Burhan must have been allowed to live and wonder. He must have been allowed to see the world, explore and make his own mark. His killing — any innocent’s killing — is not normal. It must make everyone — our political class across the board, our citizenry, everyone — intellectually and morally uncomfortable.

That discomfort is humanity. Let’s not lose it.


Toon: Suhail