Yesterday there were blasts in Jaipur – serial blasts.
Somehow these shook me out of the desensitized state I have been for the last couple of years (about blasts and explosions). – So common a phenomenon that one is almost blasé about it.
Perhaps it was because two very close friends are from Rajasthan, and in fact one of them, N used to stay at a place which is at the epicentre of the explosions yesterday. She still has her extended family there and a cousin who has a shop almost adjacent to one of the targeted temples. Fortunately, none of her family was in any way injured. Not this time.
But it is almost a matter of time, before someone one knows becomes an innocent victim of some random bomb or explosion or RDX of whatever these Government types call it. It’s almost a matter of time, before one is caught in some arbitrary act of carnage in a small market, in a small town.
Somehow, perversely, it’s significantly worse when it is a smaller town rather than a bigger place. A megapolis like Mumbai, one thinks, it is almost inevitably, going to be a target for these attacks (and this inspite of the fact, that I have spent more than half my life in the city). The pound of flesh (almost literally) one pays for being the political, financial and commercial hub of a country. I don’t condone it, no. But I think I have almost begun to expect it.
But when this terror starts percolating down the town classes to the smaller places, the innocent places, that’s when suddenly one realizes there is no safe haven anymore.
There is no safe place one can move to – away from the madding crowd, away from the terror squads, away some psychotic terrorist trying to prove some warped point of view.
The daily haunts – the bus, the shopping mall, the station – none of it can be taken for granted, there is no place one can go to boldly without peering over one’s shoulder anymore.
The fact that I, and others like me have become so nonchalant and matter-of-fact about blasts also worries me – because it is symptomatic of the fact that it is becoming so very common, such an ordinary an occurrence, that it fails to shake one up or move one. A WTC disaster seven years ago, in a different country was so horrifying that I couldn’t sleep for days. A terrorist attack in the backyard today – results in an “Oh God, I hope no one I know is hurt” and after establishing the fact that everyone is safe, one’s mind moves on to other things. Soon, people will be taking it in their stride, the ordinary risk of living in a country like our – at par and almost as common, as say, an accident on the expressway.
What is the solution – avoid these places? Where all can one avoid? The local vegetable market (ours had a cycle explosion some three years ago- my mother SAW bloodied, injured people being rushed to hospitals), the train? The bus? The airport? The schools? Is it realistically possible to insulate oneself from these random acts, without burying oneself altogether?
That is no way to live. But neither is this. The only option seems to be to go out with a prayer on one's lips.