||The purpose of this article is neither to publicise nor provide gratuitous violence. All it hopes to propagate is how violence destroys innocent lives; that violence is not the answer/solution to any human tribulation. As the human race is getting technologically advanced, it is also growing excessively intolerant on the same scale. We kill for petty issues; we butcher for nothing. And that’s why violence must be discouraged in all its forms. Whether the foundation is set upon religion, ethnicity, politics or language, it must be denounced. Hoping to see a world where humanity is not brushed-off so conveniently and where human beings do not have to live in a constant fear for survival…
AUGUST 07, 1945
He had been out of the city when the tragedy had struck. Eiji Tanaka had left his city a calm place, but returned only to see it reduced to a necropolis. The world was at war; it seemed to be the world’s favourite pastime, but Tanaka hadn’t expected that his city, his home would have to pay the price. All the buildings were dazed to ashes, there was a sea of dead bodies. But the chagrin didn’t end there. Tanaka’s three year old beautiful daughter had miraculously, but unfortunately, survived the nuclear attack. This was the worst part. He didn’t know what to do. At all. But then, who would? How do you react when the sunshine of your life receives an atomic blast as a birthday gift? What do you do when you know the most precious entity of your life is dying of radiation-sickness? What do you do when every hour, your little girl screams in immense pain; sobbing, crying, beseeching you to help? What do you do when your daughter looks at you and expects you to relieve her of this agony while all you can do is to stare back into her eyes without an answer? Do you wish for her death? Do you kill her yourself? Do you console her by lying that she’d be fine? Do you tell her directly that since she’s dying, the pain would end soon?
Tanaka didn’t know what to do. At all. But then, who would?
DHAKA, EAST PAKISTAN
FEBRUARY 21, 1952
It would be a felony to call Muhammad Nasir a politically active person. In fact, intense debate could go into the matter if he could even spell politics. Toiling in third year in Dhaka Medical College, his life revolved around texts and books. And so when his classmates had asked him to accompany them to a rally, he was obstinate. But then, being dubbed a book-worm for another month was something he dreaded more. And so, reluctantly, he went. The procession marched towards Dhaka University, gaining vigour and momentum. Lads were fiercely calling Pakistan names, registering their protest over the status given to Urdu. It was only after the police came in to the campus, that Nasir realised the fragility of the situation he’d been fooled into. Commotion ensued. Students attacked. Police used tear-gas. More commotion. More violence. In the fifty seconds before the police opened fire, Nasir learnt two political things. One, that the Urdu-Bengali issue wasn’t as simple as it seemed. Two: there had been Section 144 already imposed in the city. He learnt a third thing as well but that wasn’t political: that there was no escaping death now.
As a bullet passed cleanly through his head, Nasir bade his mother a mental farewell…
MARCH 28, 1971
It wasn’t really a mistake, except perhaps for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. But, of course, they were naïve; a newly-wed couple that had come for their honeymoon in the Eastern wing of their country. When you are hopelessly romantic, uselessly optimistic and fearlessly patriotic, you don’t really pay any heed to the rumours that the country is on the verge of disintegration. And you just don’t care about the news of the hideous clean-up of non-Bengalis in ‘Amar Shonar Bangla’. And so when he’d heard the knock on the door that day, he took it to be the local doodh-wala. He was right. Only that the doodh-wala had about fifteen side-kicks by him. As the men stormed into the room, they kicked him hard and dragged his wife. And since they both were tactlessly dramatic too, he made one last effort, resorting to Bengali; assuring him he was one of their own. Well, in a parallel world, he was. But in this world, not really! The feat was stupid, the attackers laughed; and the doodh-wala anyway knew they were from the Punjab. For quite some time, the mob abused, molested, tortured them; then four men advanced towards his wife. He realised what was coming. If he couldn’t stop it, at least he could avoid being the audience. He wept at their feet; imploring them to kill him first.
They sure were violent, but they were kind enough to oblige…
NOVEMBER 01, 1984
Would Sardar Satpal Singh have survived had he left Delhi the instant he’d heard about Indira Gandhi being shot dead? Or left Delhi when he could easily sense the lull before the storm? Or left Delhi when his door was marked with a modest ‘S’ the previous night? Maybe yes, maybe no! What can we say? But it was only after the news of a Sikh being killed reached him that he immediately made his mind to go to his hometown, Ambala. He hurriedly mounted a bus from Sultanpur and said a silent prayer, ‘Satnam Sri Wahe Guru Jee…’ Only 15 minutes had passed when the bus was halted by an angry mob. ‘Wahe Guru Jee Da Khaalsa…’ Two men entered, spotted Singh and pulled him out by his beard. ‘Wahe Guru Jee Di Fateh...’ There were a dozen men there; they pushed him, kicked him to ground, and mocked him about Khalistan. ‘Wahe Guru Jee...’ A can of kerosene was emptied on him. ‘Da Khaalsa…’
It was a most peculiar death. The last thing he remembered was the stench of his own flesh burning. Then everything went black...
COLOMBO, SRI LANKA
JANUARY 21, 1988
Amritha walked slowly, too pre-occupied to figure out how automated her pace seemed. Around her, life was abuzz with activity, the usual sights and sounds of a busy city. Children fooled around. Friends joked around. Theoretically, she should have loved the vista. But she didn’t. She approached the crossroads, her heart drumming madly. As she stood there, a woman passed by, an angelic baby clinging to her shoulder. For a minute, the baby stared straight into Amritha’s eyes, as if his innocent eyes were posing some grave questions to her. Theoretically, she should have loved the baby. But she didn’t. But she would have, most definitely. If only the baby weren’t Sinhalese. If only Amritha weren’t Tamil. She shrugged off the sporadic emotional weakness and reminded herself of the piety of the action. Of all those years of training in Himachal Pradesh. Of how she would have to prove herself true to her name. Amritha: Elixir. Elixir for the state of Tamil Eelam. She brought her hand to her breast. There was a deafening sound; human parts tossed about in the air, the sun turned red. Then, mercifully, silence.
A moment ago the place had two hundred people. A moment later – two hundred bodies...
DECEMBER 09, 1992
Sandeep looked through watery eyes at the crushed idol of Krishna – his saviour, his god. And he broke into wails for the umpteenth time, his voice at its highest pitch, ‘We did not demolish the Babri Masjid, do you hear me? We did not…’ But there wasn’t anyone around who’d hear him and now that Krishna was also gone, no one at all! His son had been killed in a scuffle with the locals a day before. Can there be anything more aggrieving for a faithful to see his temple destroyed? Or a father to see his young son dead?! Perhaps there can be. Sandeep still had a wife and three daughters, and his old heart didn’t have any more strength to bear any more calamities. He reached home, went to his wife and gave her the bottle he’d been hiding beneath his ajrak. She complied impersonally, this had been chalked out earlier. When you have to live in constant fear of violence for your loved ones, not living is the better option. They had their dinner together, and waited for the cyanide to take away their lives. Sandeep comforted his wife and daughters, ‘And so we go. And hope to reunite with each other in a better place!’
And so they went. To some better place. To their son, Harsh. To Krishna...
MARCH 01, 2002
Ayesha wasn’t formally educated, but could easily pass for a literate. In the local newspapers, she had read about the train that was set ablaze. She also knew about her city being set ablaze accordingly. And hence, she had herself fully prepared for death. She was a brave woman; she lived alone. She didn’t have any family, which comes across as a blessing in such times as you don’t have to worry about them. Every evening, she would sit in the verandah, waiting for them to come. And would think how they would kill her. Rape her first? Torture her? Cut her? Whatever, it would end; she would console herself. But things often don’t go as planned. And that evening, when she actually heard the banging on her door, she lost her composure. She screamed. She cried. She went to the phone calling the police, though knowing they won’t respond. She prayed. She ran around. The ramming on the door grew harder. She cried louder. She ran around faster; until the door was broken down and her assailants entered. She pleaded them hysterically to have mercy, in the name of Allah, Bhagwan, God, all! But obviously, they hadn’t come to disburse sweet little packets of mercy. One man clutched Ayesha through her hair; another grabbed her leg.
And all these years, the local maulvi sahib had told Ayesha that qayamat would come only once…
DECEMBER 16, 2011
For a moment they both stared into each other’s eyes lifelessly; the stillness of the moment amplified by the aim of his gun. His victim lay on the ground before him, stupefied. He started to reprimand his victim but then at once stopped. There was no point. His victim started to implore him but then at once stopped. There was no point. When a Baloch, a Punjabi and a gun are present in the same frame; all words, all emotions, all sensations dwindle into oblivion. Only violence follows. And those two seemed to know much of this reality. For a split second, his grip loosened, his gun lowered. ‘What was he punishing him for? He wasn’t involved.’ But his insides roared in protest. ‘Have you forgotten they kept your brother for six months? Don’t you remember his corpse? Mutilated? The chopped off arm? The burnt ankles? The blinded eyes? Of how he would have trembled in pain?’ And he at once got his answer: Genes. He was punishing him for his genes. He reaffirmed his grip on the butt of the gun. And closing his eyes, pulled the trigger. Once. Twice. Thrice.
And as it is always done in human history, violence once again shamed peace and emerged triumphant…