The Sorry Figure of Secularism in Practice

As I write this, or even before, I’m more bothered, rather scared being the right word (for the result). I understand that stakes would be high. But so is the issue that I’ll be talking about, its as much sensitive. I wonder if I have that kind of maturity it requires, or I wonder if I felt too much. Then with all rationality that I’ve, I feel I didn’t and on the contrary, if I didn’t, I don’t think I’d be any fraction of a man enough that I think myself to be.

What I’m up to is to narrate a very disturbing, painful story. That probably would be my Kevin Carter moment. And the only good part in this whole thing that could have been, that I didn’t have a camera handy. Probably I might be able to answer a thing or two on what would have made him kill himself for or after winning a Pulitzer coming from his profession. And this must also be the most dubious curiosity to have been answered ever. And like in Kevin’s case you would wonder what to pity more, that there was a time somewhere on earth when a vulture waited for a baby to die or that he waited to click such a sad picture to publish, or that Kevin killed himself even after a Pulitzer, or was the eagle more human, similarly in this case, you’d end up left painfully aghast and clueless what to pity more. What would be scarier and hence even more worrisome in this case is there’s no vulture, there’s something invisible, some invisible fear changing the way of life, like some lethal gas, continuously oozing, any contact with it kills, rate varying on degree of contact.

One day it so happened that I went to drop a friend who lives in Shahadara, a far east trans-Yamuna suburb in Delhi, a typical Muslim populous, low income demography locality, dilapidated buildings. I hope this ‘typical’ sums up the frame for you. As I crawled through those by lanes, somewhere this happened:

There were some 5-10 year old toddlers playing cricket by a lane, in a small patch left open by perpendicularly adjacent buildings. Suddenly an older gang of boys clad in kurta-pajama-skull cap emerged, interrupted the game, soon and like forever, arguments leading to brawl happened. As I approached the spot, it turned little bit more violent, so for a moment I contemplated to stop to disengage these kids and before I could decide or look for a park- able space on the side of the road, it happened.
There came a man running with all his might and a stick in hand and as he separated the skull capped boys with his right hand along with stick, slapped a five year old toddler with all swing possible. Even as the kid fell on the ground towards right, the swing of the stick again full found the kid on the ribs with a thud sound, audible enough inside to  me with windows rolled up in that noisy street. As the kid fell down, unclear whether or not unconscious, the skull capped boys laughed like demons as the man beat other kids. It was only from that laughter I realized the man was taking on only half the side, those tiny toddlers, the attempt was not to separate the two gangs. Even as he swore and swung sticks, came rushing two women, picking up the fallen kid and one stopping the man. As one lady picked the 5 year toddler, while the boy still couldn’t cry, she couldn’t stop, she discovered blood on the kids shirt, still gasping for breath. Then followed a family drama, chaos, cries, swears, all too fast and something very difficult to express in words if I’m to hold my own tears.

Well, the man was the boy’s father, and the stick he wielded, was probably something picked in fit of rage from somewhere which had nail somewhere. Like in Kevin Carter’s case, even I don’t know what happened to the toddler. As the father broke into tears the last word I could hear ,”S***i tere ko kitni baar bola mat chhoda kar bacche ko. Teri samajh nahi aata dusri kaum rahti hai idhar. 100 baar nahi sunaya Daaktar wala kissa”. ( Didn’t I tell you not to leave the kid unguarded, don’t you know Muslims live here. 100s of times I have told you the Doctor’s story- referring to  Dr. Pankaj Narang’s mob lynching).

Since the day I haven’t managed sleep, its been some 15 days. May we find someone to blame. To me it would be the most disturbing thing possible in peace. I just wish media someday comes to know, out of the greed to sell, out of need to please bosses, how intolerable have they become. May they understand some day Secularism starts and ends to being fair.