Thursday, June 17, 2010

Iraq - a tale of hope

Finding an Indian in Iraq is no exception, but to find someone who is optimistic and happy is. Living in Iraq is hardly comfortable. Infact you can term it as a living on the edge kind of scenario. It’s a bit hard to experience it in words. Bullets passing by, land mines exploding, cars going turtles right in front of your eyes can make even the coldest of heart miss a beat.

There are according to official figures more than then thousand Indians here. Most of them are doing jobs that can be very easily classified as high threat work. Under the umbrella of darkness, in the middle of a desert, supported by gun totting UN soldiers distinguished by their blue helmet, people like Ram Sharan and Avinash Gupta are braving their only life so that they can earn enough for their family back home and in the process they are doing their job of connecting interiors lawless land of Mesopatamia to the main land of Baghdad.

Some fifteen days back three Indians and four Pakistani nationals were shot dead and then beheaded by suspected members of Al-Qayda. Back in India and Pakistan we might make a distinction between the two nations but in this part a greater insanely hate very easily consumes this very difference that has disrupted the life of both the countries for decades. They both had common friends and when their body was being sent to their respective country, tears that were rolling down too didn’t made any distinction. They were for the Indian as well for the men from Pakistan.

Such is life.

In this part of globe even the bare basic needs of life jumps the fence and becomes a luxury. You will be more than fortunate if you are able to eat more than once in a day and I am not talking about the local, even us, the so called war journalists have to undergo the same fate.

The sun burnt skin of a 8 year old boy, a perpetual quizzed look in his eyes and the pain in his voice when he seeks her now dead mother is the only reason that brings moistness of any kind. Otherwise everything is dry and parched. Hard we may try but the eyes always fail to hide ones emotion.

Hope is a fast disappearing entity here. And I have never experienced such situation anywhere else. People have simply lost hope and those few who have it are now trying to keep it going on until a stray bullet takes that away; along with their life.

The lonely silent as you pass through village after village who were once bustling center where eyes would meet and an accidental stare would turn into an attentive gaze., a place where flour and cakes and balloons were purchased to celebrate birthdays have now become lifeless. All I could see was some slippers and some rags and more blood.

I stop at a house which shows some activity of human presence and I am welcomed by a feeble old man , whose eyes have a unexplainable twinkle, something that makes my spirit soar high .

He goes by the name of Hussein and is the only surviving member of his family. The rest have migrated to Persia and are living happily. He has lived in Iraq since he first clutched his fathers finger when he learnt to walk and he has no fear of anything, only a feeling that who will look after his goat when he is gone . With closed eyes he says that he was born in this soil and will disappear in this soil, a soil that has become red.

All sorts of media is here and countless stories have been told to world about Iraq. When it was Saddam it was he who hogged the limelight and now when he is gone Suicibde bombing and senseless killings make the headline. Blood flowed then too and it has not stopped even now. Only the hands have changed, the bullets are the same and same are those who die.

It is not a war between America and Iraq or Muslims and Christians or Shia and Sunni that have taken lives. They are just excuses, for humans to kill another human,

I desperately seek love to heal my soul that has never been so deeply wounded before. Anything, any love story would do. But there is none. And even if there is, no one is alive to share it with me. I read about Iraq when I was a child. I use to see it as a land of Heer Ranjha. Alladin Jasmine. But it seems like my characters, they too were work of fiction.

Moving ahead as I reach Baghdad I am pleasantly surprised to see a turban wearing sikh who is dancing on Sukhbir and with him are some locals who too are matching their feet with the tall sardar.

The lanky guy is from Bhatinda and runs a grocery store here and plans to stay here till the Indian contingent of Engineers are here. He tells me that everything will change for good; that is inevitable. It changed in Punjab , and it will change here. And he nods his head in yes when I ask him whether he will take good memories of Iraq when he goes back to India.

Then he puts the same question to me.

I say yes; to his invitation to dance too.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Oh Bhopal- II

Mockery of justice was again seen in my country when the judicial pronouncement for the Bhopal gas tragedy was announced .

Digest this , after over 25 years, eight people were convicted for the world's worst industrial disaster and sentenced to two years in prison. One of them died during the course of the trial. The other seven were granted bail. About 20,000 people were killed in the Bhopal gas tragedy of December 2-3, 1984.

The iconic picture of a child, whose face is only visible became the pictorial signature of that unfortunate night and was clicked by photojournalist Pablo Bartholomew. And he too was heartbroken when he heard about the “too little too late” judgement.

Thousands and thousands like him, people from every sphere of life, activists, common man, students, and farmers too are going through a mixture of varied emotions. Anger, pity , apathy, helplessness, but deep inside they have accepted the fact that what has been done is done and nothing can be achieved more. Those who died they cannot be brought back. They simply won’t come back.

This resignation to the situation doesn’t develop overnight, it comes with age and it comes when such incidents happen again and again and still things remain the same. Same politicians ranting, accusing each other, same ways of protest, changing facebook profile picture, showing compassion through status message, forwarding sms . Even the media doesn’t do much. Same channel, same talk show, same gestures, high pitch voices. My earlier post and rants on Bhopal gas leak can be found here.

This helplessness and the feeling alike is not against Bhopal gas tragedy. It has a much deep rooted origin. It is against the whole system.

This has developed through time. When Godhra happened, when violence in Maharastra took place, when hundreds died in a train accident and the railway minister said that it was all related to a political conspiracy to malign her, when a man who should have been hanged long back is kept alive all in the name of minority appeasement, such unique yet identical incidents give birth to this feeling of apathy and helplessness.

Meanwhile political games have already begun.

Congress leaders are in a huddle so as to whom to make a scapegoat. Was it the CM, the PM or a mixture of both that made a way for Anderson to flee India. Not too far, BJP is in another huddle, devising out ways in Patna, where its national executive meet is going on and in Bhopal on how to push the Congress further into a corner.

Then there is a former Supreme court judge who says that he did not commit any mistake by agreeing to head a multi million dollar trust set up by the union carbide after the tragic gas leak.

The same judge in 1996 converted the CBI charge under the stringent provisions of 304-II that provided for maximum of 10-year imprisonment to Section with two-year maximum imprisonment and reduced the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder to causing death by negligence.

Clearly the law didn’t take its natural course. But then it would have been naive for anyone to even expect that it will, such was the nature of this high case. Much more than anyone could make out was and is at stake.

In the end what matters is, those who have survived they should be looked after. Those who died, they are not alive, they don’t need any attention but the survivors do. The best way to remember the unfortunate dead would be to make sure that those who survived don't die a painful death. Those who will be born with deformities and weak immune system they will need money and resources to live a life that will be far away from normal. 

Yet since they have life they will have to survive, with or without government help.

Forget Anderson, forget who drove him to the airport, ignore who called whom to arrange for his departure. But let’s not forget those who need life and support. Help them and you will be helping those who died on that night for no purpose. Many of them were sleeping and most of them never woke up again.

Bhopal lost something on the night of December 3, 1984 and nothing but time will heal those wounds that have been felt by generations and will be experienced by many more to come...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...