Yesterday, an e-mail was sent to a news station, wherein a dreaded terrorist group had threatened to simultaneously set off bombs in certain well-known areas of Kolkata at 10 pm. Among the list was a hospital (?!?!?), the High Court, some of the busiest, bustlingest areas of the city, and a couple of residential areas...including ours.
For two whole hours, the city had come to a standstill. The residents were paralysed by an unknown fear. Those who were out on the streets, were praying to get back home to their loved ones. Those of us who were sitting at home, eyes glued to the TV sets, were praying for our loved ones to return safely to us. After the clock had struck the crucial hour, the police announced that they had managed to trace the mail to a cyber cafe and the whole thing turned out to be a hoax.
I won't go into the different conspiracy theories doing the rounds right now, but I do want to talk about being scared by something faceless yet so dangerous.
The Man I Married, whenever he gets disgusted with the politics of the country, the corruption, the unreasonable demands that education makes on children, the growing concern for a child's safety and security, and a whole host of other issues, starts to seriously fantasize about migrating to another country. In fact, it's a favourite past-time of his.
MIM: How about Switzerland? We don't have to worry about any wars there, right? It's a neutral country after all. Then there's Iceland where I believe children are really safe. Holland is beautiful...
M4 (i.e. me): What about the North Pole?
MIM: Not a bad idea...isn't that were Santa Claus lives? The boys are bound to be happy and safe there! After all, who would want to bomb Santa Claus?
Hmph, the same people who could think of bombing a hospital or holding young children and their parents hostage in school. How ugly is our world becoming?
I hated being so afraid yesterday. I was afraid for the Man I Married who had gone out of town and was driving back at night and hadn't reached yet. I was afraid for my Mamus who traveled by local transport, weary and exhausted after a long day at work. And most of all, I was worried for my two innocent children, fast asleep in their bed, not knowing what was happening and how Mamma was feeling.
Fear is crippling. And I hate these people who have such a hold over us. And that's just the beginning of my once miniscule 'hate list'. It has grown in epic proportions since last night. I hate looking over my shoulder searching for God-alone-knows-what. I hate that I have started looking at a cycle with a mixture of terror and cynicism. I hate that I have started looking upon people with suspicion and mistrust. I hate that I have to think fifty times before I step out somewhere, alone or with my boys. I hate feeling unsafe. And most of all, I hate that I should have to bring up my sons in this environment of hate.
Yesterday's hoax, scare, dirty joke or whatever you choose to call it should be a wake-up call to us all. We should fight back. We need another "India's Most Wanted" programme. We need to show the police and the armed forces our support; that we believe in them and will offer our unstinting faith and cooperation. Faith can move mountains, they say. Maybe, if we show them a little faith and support, the corruption that exists might disappear. We need to be proud of our country again. We have to start believing 'Mera Bharat Mahaan' and we need to instill this feeling of nationalistic pride in our children. We need to set up a citizen's watch in each and every neighbourhood. We need to show the world that we will not cower and hide in caves. Each and every one of us, across the length and breadth of this country, need to show those that would do us harm, a collective middle-finger.
We need to fight back and show these asshole terrorists that maybe they can bully us and bomb our streets, but they can't bomb our spirits, our faith, our love for country.
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