However today I am going to write about something that has truly touched me.
A few weeks back I was surfing around on blogger when I came across a blog called Baghdad Burning. I added it to my blog links and forgot all about it.This morning I read some posts on that blog... and have been able to think of nothing else since!
I have always been one to take life for granted. My biggest worry being how to cook today's food without burning it. I am a citizen of one country, but live in another... The doors to both countries are open to me and I come and go as I wish. I roam around inside each country as I wish. I take my freedom for granted.
I am going to stop here and let you think about how privileged we all are!! If you want to read more find the link to the blog in my side panel.
On this note, I would like to also share my tryst with terrorism!!
I come from a lovely town in South India called Coimbatore. To many Indians this name might be familiar, I am about to tell you why!
It was a warm and sunny Saturday - Feb 14th 1998. I had made up my mind to watch a movie... but the VCR wouldn't work. So I decided to go get it fixed. My dad's assistant agreed to go with me to the VCR repair place. I had to go pick him up from my Dad's office though. So I started VCR in one hand and the Kinetic (Two Wheeler) keys in the other... As I was to step down from the porch I stopped still. I would have stepped on a small snake (A Speckled Cobra I think) if I had not looked.. I yelled for my mom and the two of us stood there and prayed till the snake left our home...
Not being very superstitious, I alerted some workers nearby of the sighting and went on to take my bike out and off to the VCR repair place. I went to Gandhipuram (a busy area in CBE) and dropped off the VCR. I then went on to my Uncle's office in Ramnagar (A tam bram locality) to pick up something from him... When I was there, he got a phone call and told me "Leave immediately.. and go straight home. There is some trouble in RS Puram". Coimbatore had a history of Hindu-Muslim feuds... so we knew the drill.
I started the ride back home.. with my Dad's assistant sitting behind me.. As I said Ramnagar is a Brahmin locality.. a Prime Hindu locality.. so the roads started closing down on us.. Except for one opening in and out of the area, all roads were literally closed down! We had to find that opening through the maze of roads and make our way out... As I rode home I saw smoke emanating from the side of the Railway Station - Central Coimbatore, while RS Puram where the alleged riots took place was behind us to the North.. Watching all this in bewilderement I headed home.
I dropped off the Assistant and went on to where I lived. At the corner of the road was a bike repair store we frequented. The Kinetic was my mom's bike and the break was acting up. So I stopped to have the guy fix it.. A group of guys came in an Auto screaming "Yen Ratham ellam kodhikudhu... Naan yen kannala parthen... ellam sinna pinnam aa pochu".. (My blood is boiling, I saw with my own eyes .. everything is in shambles). The guy in the auto was the one who took my sister to school everyday.. he said to me "Papa yen inga nikarenga, veetuku ponga.. velila varadhenga" ..(Little girl, why are you standing here? Go home and dont come out!)
The whole of next week we stayed at home, all schools and colleges were closed. We heard and saw the reports on Television. Our City was burning. The BJP leader LK Advani was supposed to make a speech on Feb 14th in RS Puram.. Alleged terrorists set off bombs in RS Puram, in the Railway Station, Town Hall (Downtown Coimbatore) , the Govt Hospital, the local bus stand and many such populous locations. In retaliation the Hindu's set ablaze many muslim stores in the city... Miscreants broke and looted all stores - Hindu and Muslim.. (pict courtesy - www.sabrang.com)
A week later we ventured out to go to college. .we were routinely subject to checks .. our bags and lunch boxes and bikes were all checked everytime we travelled past bus stands/ stations and other populated areas. Everywhere we looked there was devastation.. and at that time I felt helpless and ashamed.. Ashamed that I belonged to a world where 2 religions can't live in Harmony!!! Where people aren't looked at as human beings, but are given an identity based on Race, Color, Religion, Caste... Why do we look at differences and not similarities in each other?