While environmentalists may clamour about water, air, noise pollution, many of my esteemed friends, residing by busy Airports and dizzy motorways confide that they cannot do without the drone of the airplanes or the disturbances caused by the cavalcade of vehicles in the neighbourhood. For me, it is the exact opposite. When I visited Kolkata to attend my uncle’s death anniversary, I could not sleep a wink because of the continuous din of the heavy vehicles passing by throughout the night. Though, residing by the longest network of road in the Capital, the direction/location of my flat is such that it prevents the heavy noise of the steady stream of traffic 24Xx7, from percolating into my day to day life. God’s grace because I am a light sleeper.
But what intrigues me more is the calm acceptance of violence in today’s lives. We are no more surprised by the blood and gore splashing the headlines of the dailies. When an aged couple gets killed by a rogue of a servant, who had been staying with them for years, we snigger a “yeh to hona hii thaa” response. When blood soaked bodies lie by the road side we quickly change gears and flee to escape from police interrogation (read harassment). After 26/11, the metros remained almost empty just for a day or two. Thereafter, it was routine. It was not that one should have been cooped at home to avoid an imagined disaster. But what was more endangering was the black humour which ensued. If a luggage was found unattended, the commuters joked about sniffing a bomb amidst the layers of clothes and other day to day necessities packed within. It was as if they had accepted their fate that a sudden massacre could end their lives anytime like the wick of a burning candle blown off by a mere phew!
To borrow a few lines from the brilliant essay written by my learned friend Shri J Mathur – as we deaden our minds to the imminent danger of a catastrophe we also de-sensitize ourselves from the burning issue and adopt a no-concern attitude. Optimists may call it adaptability. Pessimists may view it as escapism. The debate continues.
I remember having once written a short story in versified form on the instant topic of discussion which goes something like this –
The shepherd boy lives by a happy stream
Jumping over a pebbled path without a break
As the sage like mountains watch with a scowl
A few huts sleep by the dancing waves
A gay flute fills the afternoon sky
Crooning a tale to the grazing sheep
As the fire dies down behind the peaks
The boy returns home with his gay herd
To have a frugal meal and retire to bed
At night when he tosses and turns on his sides
The guns roar a lullaby on the other end
Listening to the drumming drone every night
The boy peacefully goes off to sleep
The other night was unusually calm
The stars shone cheerfully bright
The moon beamed like a crystal maze
And the guns bellowed not
A single song throughout the night
The boy next day was late
To his work
Not a wink did he sleep
The previous night
I assume that this must be the case in war torn countries and with people living beside man-mad LoCs. But let’s not get morbid; rather, pray that sanity prevails before the species coined as Homo Sapiens in their overbearing vanity born out of intellectual supremacy marches headlong towards the road to extinction. Let’s pray that our planet Earth who has mothered us through epochs sees a violence-free global civilization soon.