Thursday, December 18, 2014

"aaj sir ke yahan baithak hai..."

It's been a year today  since Khurshid Anwar jumped off his house.  He succumbed to the trauma that he had been subjected to.  Falsely accused of rape,  instead of following the process and the law,  he was pronounced guilty by a section of media and many others who maligned him,  his reputation and his entire existence on social media and off it.  He on 18th December,  2013 at about this time gave in to it all... 

His perpetrators are free,  enjoying life,  active on Facebook, in social circles and some also in political circles. The said victim never showed up after her accusation. The police have still not filed an FIR on the complain registered by the family against some prominent people.  The court has given dates and the process is on... System is working at its own pace.

Khurshid Anwar is no more and the world has moved on...  His house got wound up.  Family which was away from him but had united on his demise has also moved on.  Organisation which was closest to him as they were together almost 24x7, picked pieces and pledged to take ahead what Khurshid had left behind.  They faced financial crisis, board crisis but they got around it.  They got a new board,  and responsibilities were realigned. Not a single employee left the organization. They organised events,  brought out books and tried to keep Khurshid alive through their work.  But the void continues...

I knew Khurshid through Shruti my sister who works for ISD and in his absence now has been appointed the Chief Functionary of the organization. ISD was shruti's 1st job and Khurshid made sure she learns and learns well.  He would be happy to see her perform today. He mentored her, was her friend and shared an amazing rapport with her. Every other  day she would call and say "aaj sir ke yahan baithak hai,  will eat there". 

Through this one year I have seen whatever has happened through Shruti's eyes and through the voices of some of her colleagues.  I have seen her cry and I have seen her angry.  I have seen the team anxious before meeting with the funder and I have seen the team helpless when court extended the dates.  Each in their own way want justice.  Each in their own way are frustrated.  They maybe the closest people Khurshid had but it's the family who takes decisions. Life is funny,  those who are with you in life have little say about you when you are dead.

One year is over...  Life changed for many,  as it did for my sister.  Khurshid is no more but alive in memories, in his stories,  through his work.  Often I hear Khurshid would have said this,  he would have said that... his presence is missed by many... Magar ab koi message nahi aata Shruti se.. 

kyunki ab koi baithak  hi nahi hoti... 

(c) Shubhra
December 18, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A conversation with a 8 yr old girl...

I take these interactive sessions on art with kids.  In other  words I go and teach them a thing or two about painting etc..  The kids are generally 6 yrs plus studying in various schools of South Delhi and Gurgaon. 
Yesterday, was class with  2 girls who are close friends all of 8 years and studying in one of the best school of Delhi.  During the class a conversation happened between these two which left me disturbed.

For now referring to the girls as A and  B. The class was at A's house and  B goes to the wash room and this is the conversation that follows...

" Do you have guests at home? " asked B to A. 

" Yes,  my dadu's friends have come." A replied.

"Are they from US or Canada?" B asked.

"No they are from Pakistan." 

B jumps and says "Pakistan! please don't take me in front of them"

"Why?"
"They will be terrorist"
"We know them they  are friends  and they are not terrorist " said A.

I promptly intervened and asked B, "who told you people from Pakistan are terrorist?"

"My nani,  told me that people from Pakistan came to Mumbai and killed many at the hotel. Even Nani's friend was killed." replied B

"But all people from Pakistan are not terrorist. There can be bad people anywhere.  In India,  in your own Delhi there are people who are bad who are doing wrong. In US or in any place there will be good people  and bad people ",  I tried to put some gyan in the little girl's  head.

"Mam,  then who are terrorist? Why do they kill?" asked A

"Beta these are people who are unwell in their head,  they have lost sense of good and bad, someone tells them and they pick their guns and kill innocent people. They need treatment,  they are not normal people. "

"If I take a gun and kill someone,  will I also be called a terrorist?"  asked B

Now, I knew I had to answer that carefully, so I said,  if you surrender say sorry to court,  you will be punished,  you serve your punishment and then try to be a good human you will not be called a terrorist.

The kids seemed satisfied and got distracted with their art.

But it left me wondering.  Today the kids have an information over load.  They watch TV  sit with adults when discussions are happening and by and by form opinions.  All Pakistanis are terrorist,  who is a terrorist,  can I be a terrorist...  All serious and dangerous thoughts and questions that are crossing the minds of these  7-8 year old kids.

As adults,  teachers,  parents we need to be better equipped with answers and with thoughts that will not prejudice a young mind.  I have no clue whether how I handled the question was right or not... 

But on the 26/11 anniversary a little girl telling me a Pakistani came to Mumbai and killed her nani's friend hence all Pakistanis are terrorist was  a disturbing conversation...

Shubhra
November 27, 2014

Monday, November 3, 2014

Is it worth it?

Is it worth it?

On Saturday, November 1, 2014, I had an experience. One which is not unique to me but I am sure will resonate with many who read this. The thoughts that followed seemed to have rustled me up and prompted me to write this note. 

It was a busy Saturday afternoon and I was on the road running from here to there completing one chore to another. Every minute was calculated. I was in a rush to reach home as my niece and nephew were visiting us. Standing on a red signal waiting for the signal to turn green, I was listening to music loud to keep away the noise from the road.  Suddenly I heard the cars behind me honk loudly and before I realized the truck standing next to my car was almost over me, at least so it seemed…  In a reflex action I pressed the horn of my car with all my force. My heart was beating fast and I thought if he doesn’t stop now, I am gone. Since the truck was not in a momentum it stopped almost immediately as it hit me. The huge tire of his truck was almost inside my door… and at that moment all I could think of was oh no… Oh God now what? I rolled the window, untangled the side view mirror and tried to sway the car to left to get out of the grip of that huge monster. The cars behind me and some people on the road were all shouting and even though for a minute I did manage to have everyone’s attention. As luck would have it my car started and I was able to move away from the truck and instead of stopping and talking to him, I decided to just move on.
The cars behind me were relieved no end. I am sure they must have thought, “ab jhagdha hoga, traffic jam hoga uff”

 I did stop to catch my breath and to see who was behind the wheels of this huge truck; It was a private crane service. The helper and driver both looked stoned. The helper from his side looked at me and his face clearly showed that he was happy I am not stopping to fight with him.

I reached where I had to and narrated the incident and showed the damage to my car, immediate reaction was why didn’t I stop the truck and asked him to pay for the damages? I said, “kaun jhagda kare beech sadak pe, usne jaan boojh ke to kiya nahi, ye sab to kisi se bhi ho sakta hai”  No they were not convinced. I was made to look like I just left the guy when I shouldn’t have and hence too na├»ve…

The whole episode scared me a bit due to the suddenness of the event and the size of the truck but left me with questions.

Why are we so unforgiving?
Why are we so impatient and selfish?

Anyone can make mistakes. Yes there are people who drive rashly and cause harm to fellow travelers but I feel mostly an accident or a brush like this is just a basic miss. A delayed reflex action or just a situation. Whatever be the case is it so big that we cannot forgive?

Now imagine what would the alternate scenario to this situation be like? I take out the car from the situation, block the truck and get to driver’s side and give him choicest abuses, ask onlookers to pull him down, some may even thrash him and I ask him for money for the damages. There would be a swamp of onlookers standing by and some just giving expert advice. All this would result in a road jam, honking and chaos on the road. Is it worth it all?

I know I will have to get my car repaired and spend a whole lot of money. I am not rich to be able to afford all this. But I still feel that all the fight and rage was not worth it. The drivers would have called their owners, and there would be police and negotiations and if the owner did give some compensation the same would definitely be adjusted with the salary of the drivers. It’s not that I haven’t been on the other side. I clearly remember two incidences when for no fault of mine a bully person harassed me no end and really extorted money out of me. I remember the humiliation and helplessness that I felt that day.

Each day the news paper is full of road rage stories. Every time you are out on the road you will see a case of people fighting in the middle of the road over such incidents. My questions are to all those people who have been involved in road scuffles and to those who drive in big clustered cities and face this threat each day?

Is it really worth it?
Can the vehicle be more valuable than human life and peace of mind?  
Was I really a loser or was I just too scared to tackle the big truck driver or scared of the chaos that would follow or the hurry of wanting to reach home? 

The questions are never ending… and each one of us will have a different answer and or a different take on this subject.

Whatever be the answer, personally, I feel that we all need to slow down a bit, pause, think, take a deep breath and just ask is it so difficult to forgive?

Is it so important to show down the person who is physically or economically weaker than us?
Is all this worth it?

Have we all never made mistakes? Is it not possible that we damage someone’s vehicle by mistake?

9 out of 10 times the answers will be  NO and all we need is that in the heat of the moment just remember this… It’s not worth it…


Shubhra
November 3, 2014