Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Mumbai Trigger

I thought I was late in catching up with the news. But I soon realized that it was the News that was late in catching up with itself. I am talking about the murder 13 days ago, on the streets of Mumbai of two young men who tried to protect their friend as she was being ‘eve teased,’ and we get to hear of this ghastly event only yesterday.

I wonder is our emotion of empathy despicably shallow and slow even in the days of Twitter and Facebook? Or do we require a candle march or a hunger strike all the time to jolt us into realising the magnitude of barbarity we face and live with?

I always thought eve teasing was a cowardly phenomenon. And I have noticed that surprisingly and strangely it brings out, in most cases, the same cowardice in the victim and even in those passing by - the witness who insist on continuing their way. But this incident in Mumbai made me realise that I was wrong.

I had once written a response on Facebook that there are those of us who are brave enough to flex our muscles and bash up the teaser. I too was one of those merciless Charlie’s angels, some years ago.

Perched now in the cozy confines of my home I wonder if I would have the same instinct to take on any teaser if he would come my way today. I think not. And in the light of the recent incident, my intuition has to be unfortunately right, right? (The guy came back with around 20 of his thug friends and murdered 2 people while many others stood by.)

This appears straight out of the movies. That’s where I have a problem with distorting reality in movies and providing vivid ideas to the least imaginative and irresponsible mob that we are.

But coming back to my shrinking bravery, I can comprehend only two reasons for this. It could simply be that the cities that I grew up in were not as harsh as the one I am living in. But I feel, in all likeliness, that my bravery is giving way to sense guided by a survival instinct. With age, my sense of security instead of growing seems to be diminishing. I realise with regret that it is inversely proportionate to the growing number of my responsibilities, and hence lesser the risk taking instincts in me.

What a shame. 

I know that in a battle to safeguard my dignity, I might be alone and might as well be facing the most dangerous opponent known to me so far…a stalker, a kidnaper, a rapist or a murderer. When motive for violence is just an excess spurt of adrenaline rush with no other provocation, common sense advices us that we had best  hold back and provide no further provocation. Again, what a shameful and humiliating defence resorted to as there is no guarantee of any reinforcement for us. The passers-by will just be passing by.

I really wish that those classic scenes from the early age Indian movies would happen on our streets – where eve teasers and pickpockets are bashed up by the mob with those huge water containers.

And all along I had thought of only eve teasing as a problem. A friend brought to my notice that even Adam teasing, as I call it, is a problem, and the guys, unfortunately in an attempt to uphold their macho image don’t even talk about it.

Little things in life we tend to ignore thinking that it need not concern us as it does not concern us. The overflowing garbage bin in our neighbourhood, our neighbour’s leaking tap, the bribe that a policeman accepts, the little incidents of eve teasing on our road…the list is long, but when this stray incident blows itself out of humanly proportions, we sit up and talk in a show of solidarity.

I once was brave, am not certain now, but would definitely want to live with dignity, pride and security. Looking up to authorities to deal with it is a cliché and a passé; and the only cure to this  social evil I can think of is to try and direct ourselves and those around us towards a more meaningful, purpose filled and respect filled life.

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