I say a prayer

Like everybody else I am still reeling from the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. Five people I know (friends of friends) have died. I just spoke to my best friend Nita a few minutes ago-her voice sounded heavy, the pitch nasal. She can’t shake the sadness away. She has two twin funerals to attend, right after attending a school event at Cathedral.

Her daughter gratefully clings to her side right through the afternoon-she feels lucky and thanks her stars. Lucky because two of her classmates lost both their parents on the night of the 26th of November. Shot dead at point blank range. They never had a chance. Another family friend escaped with three bullets logged in her arm bleeding profusely for eighteen hours after she was shot and before she was led out to safety.

I feel grateful too. In a weird way It was my birthday on the 27th of november, I was to bring it in on the 26th night at India Jones at Trident with a few close friends. On the morning of the 26th we decided to postpone the celebration by a day-I wanted to start a new year of my life with a jog on the beach at 6 am. To be back in time to drop my daughter to the bus stop at 7 am. So the party was postponed to the 27th night instead. So I could start the day on an energetic invigorating note rather than with a head laden with champagne and a stomach bloated with cake.

It was surreal. I never slept that night at all. Got the 1st sms about the attack from a school mom at a quarter to eleven. It sounded unbelievable. I forwarded it to all the other moms I knew to tell them to keep their kids home and switched on the TV. My family and friends were calling me from all over the world. They were hoping I was not out bringing my birthday in at the Taj or the Oberoi. I was calling and smsing everybody too-wanting to hear they are safe.
The next fifty nine hours seemed like something out of a Bruce Willis action film… dark sordid and gory.

But less than forty eight hours later we are all back to our everyday lives. Public memory is short-except for those that have been direct victims of this tragedy so people just dust themselves and trudge on. ‘Spirit of Mumbai’ and the ‘Resilient Mumbaikar’ and ‘Cast your vote correctly’ are the messages we are being bombarded with on sms and via other channels.

Politicians are exploiting the tragedy to usurp power and feed their own vested interests. Everybody is getting swept in the tide of ‘his head must roll’ and who the villain is. Raj Thackeray and his marathi warriors are conspicuously in hiding. R. R Patil issues a public statement that in big cities these things are occasionally bound to happen!! Excuse me? I was hoping he was misquoted or it was a typo when I read it. Surely he cant be that…but ofcourse he is. I believe he said it on national TV Chidambaran takes over as Home minister…Shivraj Patil resigns as does Vilasrao Deshmukh and his deputy.

So big deal. How does this impact any of our lives except that we see more of them on TV? Is one really better than the other? Do we have any leaders worth looking up to at all? Why has the terrorist attack become about who is gaining or losing power at the Government portals rather than how we can effectively prevent such a thing from happening in the future?

For the first time in my life I have a feeling of respect for George Bush-he was at least man enough to say-Nobody messes with me or my country or my people. And those who do will pay the price for it.
But what does the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh do-he feebly dilly dallies with the officials of the Pakistani Government before proceeding on his election campaign. The terrorist attack seems forgotten already, no longer on his agenda Shame!
If the trail of this attack can be officially traced to one or more countries/organizations why beat around the bush? Why not seek the co-operation of the rest of the world and declare them a terrorist state? What are we afraid of? The only terrorist captured alive hails from Pakistan and has admitted to being trained in camps there. Do we need further proof?

Why cant we pass international laws that no person of such affiliation/or terrorist state be allowed to set foot on soil outside their own country? Ruthlessly flush out any one within India that harbours a terrorist, or abets terrorism in any way or even has a remote link. Throw them in jail and lock away the key.

But how can an officio issue his own arrest warrant? Tch tch…why on earth would he do that or allow anybody else to? Its easier to kill a bunch of innocents and divert attention from the larger issues at hand. He knows from past experience that things will die down soon enough and his position remain safe.
Isnt that something we need to scrutinize closely?

And what about the ganglords and mafia kingpins? The guys that illegally control the docks, drugs, contraband, and much of India’s dodgy trade hand in glove with the establishment?

Each of them going about their business with audacity and impunity, dreaming of being turned into heroes as protagonists in the next Ram Gopal Varma gangster flick? Surely any terrorist activity of this magnitude needs funding to the tune of billions…where is it coming from? If it’s coming from outside India who is bringing it in? There was apparently enough explosives found to blow up the whole city…it certainly didn’t come in that tiny rubber jetty the boys arrived by sea in. Anytime there is an enquiry or investigation, notice how the bad guy just vanishes? Is any of this possible without powerful political patronage?
There may be a hue and cry right now but lets what this space. The D word and the C word and the B word will soon disappear from everybody’s lips as soon as the public outrage dies down.
Why are the bad guys getting richer and the good guys being shot dead? Too simplistic? Maybe but perhaps not…

How did these guys get employment and rooms at the premier organizations such as the Taj and Trident? Are there no document checks required? If not why? If this was an oversight then perhaps the trail is far closer to home than we can understand.. the perpetrators of this hate are amongst us. White collar workers. They are not just illiterate shady guys trying to earn a fast buck. They are people like you and me.

Like the images of the terrorists clearly proved. I too would have crossed any of them on the street and mistaken them to be students. Kids…living on their ‘baap ka paisa’ Misguided to boot, but kids nevertheless. Young minds are the easiest to manipulate after all. Did anybody check their parentage or who was going to be paying those bills before checking them in? If they were staying at the hotels as has been reported. Which bank gave them a credit card? Or did they go the old fashioned way and just pull out wads of cash? And if they did that why were eyebrows not raised?

Ever tried getting a job in America or the UK or anywhere in the western world? Or even a hotel room? Then you’ll be aware of how much documentation you have to furnish before you even get through the door.
So who let these guys in? Besides the fishermen that were killed? But that was the last leg of the operation…this had been meticulously planned and executed weeks or even months before those twelve boys came in by boat. How? Where? When? On whose behest?

The scale and scope of international terrorism is far too complex and dangerous for my brain to ever completely fathom. It’s not only about religious hatred and intolerance but ultimately about ruthless economics and power. The evil that has driven man to the dregs through the centuries.
It’s the games men play very often out of each others drawing rooms. For and against each other. Terrorism is not about religion. Religion is just an excuse. It’s merely the politics of hatred and acquisition of a perverse convoluted notion of power. It knows no caste, creed, humanity and certainly no God.

As an ordinary citizen, as a woman and as a mother I don’t even want to understand the vile machinations of it. I just want to feel safe, my children to roam free and the world to be a happy place.

And in my honest moments I admit that I want somebody else to do the dirty job of cleaning my neighbourhood and country up. I’m still some what conditioned to believe that it’s a mans job. If there was any problem my daddy always looked after it. I stayed indoors and fed the dog or wrote a poem while my mother cooked us a warm meal. Its how most of us girls have been raised.

I know there is evil, I know there is hate but I don’t know how I can stop it. So do the only thing I can. I point fingers, I accuse, I abuse and I rant. Because I feel helpless and don’t know any other way.

But me, like everybody else, needs to take a reality check and stop playing the blame game.

Because the villain is not just one person or even a few corrupt politicians. Or a fistful of terrorists

The true villain is our individual and collective apathy.

Our inability to stop it or do anything about it.
Our inability to sustain dialogue and bring about long term change.
Our need to pussy foot around issues and sweep them under the carpet. Our dismissal of things that seem too large to deal with.
Our lack of social conscience and our resistance to change.
Our misplaced notion that it’s somebody else’s problem.
But it’s not somebody else’s problem. It is our problem. Each and every one of us.
We should be angry, we should be ashamed and we must raise our voices

But just fear or anger or apathy or indignance alone will achieve nothing if not channelized correctly and put to proper use.

It will once again be buried in the din of airconditioning and drawing room conversations of the glittering chatterati. Drowned under the rhythm of the latest Bollywood hit song and the salacious quotes of the new item girl with the biggest boobs on the block. In a few days the matter will be forgotten altogether…see how the Indian media is already moving on?

Till death and destruction strikes again

The only thing that will work is a cohesive comprehensive dialogue and sustained effort at every level to deal with the enemy.
The enemy from within and from outside.
The implementation of a system and rigorous checks that works for the good of everybody.
A system that works on inclusion rather than isolation.
A system where our conscience is not for sale to the highest bidder.
A system where people can feel a pride and dignity in their existence.
A system that gives us the right to be free and be safe in our freedom.

And a system that takes a stand. That is not afraid to tell the world that if you step on my toes, I’ll stamp your face.

You mess with me buddy, you’re a dead duck.

Lets stop being so nice. Niceness beyond a point is nothing but cowardice. Bullies are well known to exploit that.

We need some concrete action to secure ourselves. Not just round table conversations at the taxpayers expense. Not just three more aircraft for the NSG and fewer bodyguards for the CM and his like.

We need a body independent of corruption and greed and beaurocratic intervention and control. A body of like minded well intentioned citizens. Is that even possible? Can the human soul remain incorruptible?

Hopefully it will happen now, because this time around it’s not some helpless farmers that have died in an obscure village or some poor illiterates whose heads were blown off in a local train. People who had no voice, no power and no means to change anything, not even their own lives. People who dealt with death as the fatalistic hand of God. People whose annihilation was dismissed as one vote less, but nothing to be alarmed about. Nothing of consequence.

But this time it’s affected those who are the backbone of our very nation, nerve centers of our economy, people who have the power to collectively affect policy. People who made us so very proud to be Indian.
The attack on them is a direct attempt to reverse the clock of our progress, blacken our faces with the soot of loathing and jealousy.

Please let’s not offer the other cheek and wait for the bad guy to come drill a hole in it. We have been too tolerant for way too long. Not only of our enemies but our so called protectors.

It’s that word again…apathy. Our biggest enemy…second only to greed. But what good is greed if one is no longer alive to eat?

This is perhaps our final wake up call.

I will go light a candle now and say a prayer. A prayer for strength and fortitude in these difficult times. A prayer of condolence for those who died and their families dealing with immeasurable grief. For the brave soldiers who fought with their lives. A prayer for myself, my loved ones and my country. And even its enemies.

A prayer for good sense and peace to prevail.

15 thoughts on “I say a prayer”

  1. HI Suchitra

    I can feel a lot of pain, anger and agony in your post and rightly so.The enemy within is more dangerous today, something needs to be drastically done to eliminate this scourge from the face of this planet.


  2. Hi Suchitra,

    I resonate with every word of your article. I know that we men are not supposed to cry, but I cried a little when I read it.

    There is just one small thing in the article that I would like to comment on. You said:

    “The scale and scope of international terrorism is far too complex and dangerous for my brain to ever completely fathom. It’s not only about religious hatred and intolerance but ultimately about ruthless economics and power. The evil that has driven man to the dregs through the centuries.”

    “It’s the games men play very often out of each others drawing rooms. For and against each other. Terrorism is not about religion.. Religion is just an excuse. It’s merely the politics of hatred and acquisition of a perverse convoluted notion of power. It knows no caste, creed, humanity and certainly no God.”

    Suchitra, just like you, I find international terrorism to be far too compex for my mind to fathom, but, at the same time, I believe that we do need to understand the forces at work if we are to formulate a meaningful response to it. We need to understand also the historical forces that are at play here. You say that terrorism is not about religion, and I agree with you, but I feel that the kind of terrorism we are faced with today does tap into a subterranean motivational force that comes from religion. I believe that religion and sex are the two most primordial forces within us, and they can each unleash havoc within us and in the world if they are not tempered properly. If possible, I will write some words on this topic, maybe next week, and if you don’t mind I will send it to you.

    If you take any intitiative to do something about these things, please count me in to be of service.

    Warm regards,

  3. hi,
    Suchitra ,am SIDDHARTH basically from Chennai but right now studying in Bangalore .i would like to introduce myself to you as a student , citizen of INDIA and also a well wisher of yours .first of all my condolences to you for losing your friends and am glad that you are fine.it would be futile for me to say that i have not lost anyone i know or close to.as all the people who lost their lives were in fact our relatives and it’s such a shame that we could not do anything in our power to stop or prevent this mishap.It really boils me down when we think of the fact that those breachers knew more about our country than we did.Every action was executed as per their plan
    .what happened to the Intelligence Force,with abled officers we still couldn’t prevent it.As people say prevention is better than cure.To this situation there is prevention but NO cure to it. the sad fact is that visibly people started to move on people around me I’m talking about .they watched it like a cricket match for 2 days and had no impact on them but few had as they were from in and around Mumbai. the fact is that when it can happen inside India Mumbai.it can happen anywhere in India.i feel the attacks aren’t over as they might have other plans .because as they say “idle mind is a devil’s workshop”.they can come up with any crap.i also personally feel that there might be more of them living in our country.without their help attacks can be done.there is a need for awareness among the youth.but how i know not as the people are not interested or interested only in education.but am ready to try further through different mediums. and i would also like to support any foundations or organization if you start any.please reply . with all care ,support,respect ,dignity- SIDDHARTH

  4. Dear Suchitra, I read your article’I say a prayer’.
    It is written in good humour and spirits.But how many people in our country would be able to understand anything about all these things happenining in our country?The common man toils from morn till evening for ‘do waqt ki roti’ Has no interest in any other thing except surviving a life.He is starved of good leadership and has no intellectual capacity to understand about the texture of our society and country. He strongly believes that their national leaders got them freedom and independence from the yoke of the foreigners.He would not believe that out of disgust, the British threw our country on our face and left us.No denying the fact that they economically exploited us.But was it not with the connivance of your own country’s ‘feudal lords’?Every politician of our country, even today, is a feudal lord.We should be ashamed to call our country ‘a democratic country, when the statistical information about literacy is gathered on the basis of the capacity of the people to sign their names.The British introduced a system of secular education,based on scientific knowledge and technological skill, for the first time in the history of our countryThey hoped that if they educated the ‘classes’,the knowlegde would perculate from the classes to the masses.What happened/The ‘selfish lot ‘educated themselves.Divided the country on the basis of caste,creed and colour and languge and ruined it The common man remained where he was as ever, and they are ‘ruling’ the country exploiting them for their votes.What can you and I do in a country like this?Even to have a platform to express and educate and create an awareness among people, you need influence:there are no people to listen to you without it.. They are divided on so many issues and he is so confused and fed up,,he has developed an attitude of ‘ignorance is bliss’and turns a blind eye to any problem and believes on fatalism.Education is made Free and Compulsory. Let us wait and see how many children come forward to take it when no livelihood is guaranteed after so much of educationI ndia is a big flop. Only those who have money can achieve something.The population is only to form the’Vote Bank’How many people will read this on the computer? It is just time pass. That is all. Love. Bye.

  5. The terrorist attack had been there rom time to time in different parts of the country. Subaltern people had been the targets of all these atrocities and the police were silent witnesses as the control of the situation was in the hands of the police.No accuntability or responsi

  6. Mere preaching is not going to get any magic effect on the people.They should actually be given awareness and training to protect themself at the times if attack.people should co operate with each other and try to helpThis kind of terrorist attack has happened everywhere before.Even yesterday there was bomb attack and 5-10 ppople have lost their lives in Assam.Only when it happened in a five Star hotel in a posh locality and some foreighners have been killed and some rich people have been staying in those posh hotels ,there was hue and cry evry where Week after week disputes, discussions and debates became the order of the day.The way Pakistan is behaving is puttig all our leaders in a fix.CryinG : Enough is Enough for nearly a month,they are now relaxing as they are exhausted.Anytime anything may happen. We should always be vigilant,prepared for any eventuality Don’t take it easy.The situation is not yet out of danger. Be awake.Trust in God and He will take care

  7. The mindset of the masses has to positively change. People still have a very fatalistic attitude towards life. When events catapult into motion a series of killings. The nation at large is in anguish, of course . The system has in itself become a rut. People go about their lives like its a burden. There are so many intermediate and connected courses of action, its like a huge filter all everyone is interested is the final cup of tea. Strained, sugared and handed over in a cup!!! The Government, the people the law, army, police, navy everyone finally just wants peace. That another day can begin and life can go on. As a nation we only unite in crisis. It is commendable but what do we do to boost our morale on a day to day basis. We ridicule our own lot, mock the system. The seven odd bomb blasts that took place in the local trains. Where’s the accountability for any attack. The system demands that the bodies are cleaned, the bloodstains wiped and things forgotten. Actually in the larger scheme of life mebbe thats d only way …. Who knows? Cant say?

  8. Hi,

    All I could say is your feelings match well with mine. I have no words to add, but you have found a way to vent your feelings, emotions in a good way. I pray all get a way to vent it out so productively.

    Keep up the good spirit and spread the word of love through your paintings, music and smile. Start singing, I used to love your voice and some of the songs when I remember do have the sadness in you.

    You don’t have to be a hit, but you could touch the heart of millions who would listen you from their heart .. and I for sure would be one.

    If not for any one else ..Sing for Kaveri .. she would like it for sure…

    Take care

  9. Hi All,

    I created an orkut group for discussing 26/11 and what as individuals we should and can learn frm it…

    I started the group, got 21 people involved there…but again…I dont understand what after that…can we really do something…Request from you guys…Please join the community if you can and please provide ur valuable insights there as well…..

    One of my ideas was to change our orkut status to something related to anti-terrorism every 26th…so that everyone remembers the pain and does not just move on….so that in future when our government makes any decisions…people react to it based on their memory of this horrifying incidence…….

    I dont know what else can I do…….


  10. months have past..kasab’s mom is coming to see him. we are ready to see a beautifull bollywood movie made out of this visit. The so-called liberals and conservatives have nothing to say other than “prayer” . I am happy to declare myself as neither a liberal and nor a conservative , but a good citizen of this country who worries for safety of my family and my country men. Given the power, i would puruse all those actions which are percieved as anti-liberal and anti-conservative to safeguard my people. Who’s gonna appreaciate me ? no one !

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  12. I completley understand and respect the feelings you are all going through, Loosing dear ones insn’t an easy matter to be handeled, Seeing your country at the edge is a horrible thing. Yet sometimes we need this kind of wake up call to do something about it.

    I have been to India in February 2008 with my husband spending the Valentiines day in Kerala. I loved it and have always dreamt about visiting India. I am a big fan of bollywood movies and red a lot of the Indian cultur, religion and democracy.

    In our 18 days visit to Mumbay, Goa and Kerala, I tried to visit as much temples, churches, mosques and sight seeings as we could. We shopped until we dropped, getting all family members and friends gifts from beautiful India.

    Watching the horrible breaking news on tv came as a shoke to all of us, praying that the nightmare would end soon.

    One thing I like to add making a long story short is that terrorism has no religion.

  13. Hi

    I am the one who had sent you a matrimonial proposal to the mobile number / website of your candle light company about which you made a post on fb which got quite a many positive responses and likes. But, i feel terribly sad that you have not responded to me at all.

    Ram | Coimbatore.Ram@gmail.com | +91.9842284411

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