After many Saturdays I manged to lay about in bed and got up only at 7. Surprisingly the rest of the household was still fast asleep so I had to tiptoe my way about as I let myself out of the house for an “early” morning walk. Despite the scanty rainfall which has led to our Government declaring this year a drought year, there are still parts of the compound that are slushy with mud and moss – a dangerous combination that can have you slip and break a leg or twist an ankle. But it has been almost six months since my life literally fell apart and I enjoyed my morning walk after a long,long time: a habit which I’d acquired as a 14 year old when we were gifted witha black puppy from my father’s former boss whose claim to fame was his fake eye which he got while fighting in Montgomery’s 8th Army!
The dog has long since left my life but the habit still remained .
After a cup of Chinese tea and crisp buttered toast, I was glancing through the papers and enjoying the return to normalcy. I twisted and turned through some Yoga poses, did a five minute meditation and spent an hour or so surfing the net for tours to Barcelona and Granada.After lunch we set off for another “normal” Saturday jaunt that was a casualty these last six months – visiting the art galleries and hanging out at the Club.
As we approached the Club, we saw two armoured vans and a lot of helmeted police around. I asked Hubby dear what it was all about and he just dismissed it as a routine gathering at Azad Maidan with the cops on standby. How wrong he was we found out an hour later.
We were sitting in the verandah, chatting away watching the skullcapped multitudes walk past the maidan. Suddenly we heard gun shots ( at that time we thought they were fire crackers) and then the stream of people started running and breaking ranks. The police began chasing them flailing their batons. From the far corner of the maidan we could see a thick cloud of black smoke rise up into the grey sky. I ran up to the upper verandah to get a closer look.
“They’re burning some vans” someone said.
“It’s a protest gone awry”
Everyone had fear and anxiety writ large on their faces.
I went down and wondered how long we’d be locked up inside. A few men started running towards the club and came onto the football field. Some even made their way to the far end of the club. For a moment my heart stopped beating. The doors were shut but the verandah was open to the mob. All it needed was a hundred people to come in and we’d have been burnt alive – much like the cars that were going up in smoke.
We quickly went outside and found the driver bringing our car into the parking lot; he was unusually quiet.
“I got scare they’d torch the car,” he said” the crowd’s gone quite mad. They already lit up a car ahead of me”.
It was strange to find parts of the road barricaded and parts of the road with normal traffic. Along with the regular cars there were bus loads of young skull caps being taken back to the outskirts of Mumbai from where they were herded in – just to create trouble for the afternoon. The television channels reported a movement that was started via Twitter and Facebook, a call to young Muslims to show solidarity with their brethren who had died in Assam.
I found it strange indeed that an incident so far removed from my life could disrupt my ordinary day.
Violence is definitely deplorable and the loss of life appalling but those who fight for a cause actually believe that it is worth it. But then I ask them is it really worth it? Can you really feel happy in your victory knowing that you have destroyed lives and left behind broken homes? How can you live your dream life knowing that you have shattered others’ dreams?
Do not delude yourself – is it really worth it?