Perdition of the Perfect Pink Pageant

The terror tale which started in the apex of the country some twenty years ago added another gory chapter to itself as the voluptuous violence volcano erupted in the western frontier as well on May 14. The saga of terrorists that strike in crowded places at busy hours has become commonplace today.

After the numerous serial blasts in the capital, Mumbai, Hyderabad and more recently Uttar Pradesh, it was Jaipur’s turn to come in the radar range. The usually cheerful and safe ‘Pink City’ was plunged into a dark, despondent state as nine RDX explosions shook its very foundations in a mere fifteen minutes. The shoppers’ paradise and tourist haven was reeking with the odour of human flesh and blood as a set of passionate and committed individuals executed their deadly plan with the help of innocent rickshaw pullers and new bicycles. A woman suicide bomber is suspected to have offered a rickshaw puller a large sum of money to help with the plot. It is a Bangladeshi terrorist (HUJI) group which has claimed this infamous act to its glory; however the involvement of ‘Indian Mujahideen’ is also hinted.

The Raje government is busy defending itself against charges of negligence by the Congress and promising the natives communal peace in the state. The point, however, is not this. As I was going through all the reports about this incident, I realized that we have become quite immune to terror. With these kinds of strikes being on the increase with each passing day, our sensitivity has been affected. We read about or see all the blood and filth on our television screens almost every day, talk about it for the next thirty-six hours perhaps and then move on. It is not as if we don’t relate to the agony of the victims or it is the distance (both mental and physical) which deters us from following up or even making an attempt to know how they live their lives post the tragedy coping with gargantuan losses. It is a casual indifference, perhaps callous complacence.

Life’s value has so steadily decreased that we have reached our saturation points. Work is touted as all important and has to be accomplished even at the expense of our lives. It is a crazed world. Money and materialism are so powerful that the life needed to enjoy it is immaterial. And the best part is that we brush it all under the sweeping carpet of practicality and rationality. You cannot stop going to the office using the local! You cannot stop shopping in Sarojini Nagar because of those silly bomb blasts two years ago, can you? To the educated reader, my attitude might seem reductionist and lamenting for a way of life that is lost. But it is not a moral sermon that I had intended to create as I began writing this piece. I wanted to draw attention to the kind of lives that we are leading, day in and day out, without stopping for a moment to think and reflect. Our targets are a priori while the course taken is secondary.

It does not matter if schools scrape Humanities from their choice pushing every student towards science or commerce (because the latter yield lucrative results) causing an alarming number of students to commit suicide under parental and peer pressure. It does not even matter if eight year olds are being diagnosed with hypertension as long as they attend all summer camps and abacus lessons post school! Similarly as long as we continue to uphold the ‘India Shining’ banner even in the face of complete annihilation of any kind of peace, security and value of human life we immerse ourselves in a false sense of comfort. We don’t feel threatened at all. It is a bright sunny view of future hopes, possibilities and potential that we uphold. India emerging as the next big superpower and IT and all those fancy named industries’ giants pacifies us (armed with decent educational degrees) to believe in a better life ahead. Alas! The black thunderous clouds of violence and terrorism never seem to mar our sight and aspirations for more than a few moments. Never for a second do we contemplate upon the possibility of this violence engulfing our personal spaces.

We conveniently ignore these warning signals and set out on our own little voyages into the treacherous sea in an unpredictable weather. It is never a good idea to sit by the shore and wait for the tide to recede but the option to enforce the sails of the ship always lies with us. We need to realize the danger that the sea and weather pose and only then can the improvisation happen. Our problem today is that we have stopped looking at the larger problems in life, being so caught up with our little worries and troubles. But I guess it is time. Too much has already been lost to lose more. We need to come out of our cocooned existences and face the violent mayhem which continually threatens to demolish our existence as the human race – gentle and peaceful. I hope the perdition of the pink pageant develops into our cathartic point and shakes us out of our inertia thereby becoming our redemption.

Swati Verma

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