ďEven in the quietest moments, I wish I knew, what I had to do. And even
when the sun is shining, I feel the rain, here it comes again, dear.Ē
Hope you wonít think me morbid if I write of loss. Or the fact that I still
canít get over that I was so close on hand witnessing the death of someone I
love. I hope you wonít think me self-indulgent.
But I am being polite. I know you wonít because so many of you have written
to me, with your own stories of loss after I opened up about mine.
Iíve always felt that it was the duty of a journalist to speak for people
who didnít have a voice. The illiterate, the poor, the forgotten, the ill,
the very young and the neglected elderly. The powerless people in need of
housing, healthcare, affordable food, sustainable education.
It seemed almost obscene to write about the needs of the people who have a
decent standard of living in a developing country where a mass of our
wretched people have an impossibly slippery and treacherous mountain to
climb if they want to get out of the poverty cycle: too many children, too
few fathers, illiteracy and poorly paid jobs that involve hard labour.
Its converse being dependency creating handouts from the government, the
lure of easy drug money, and in the absence of the power of an education,
the power of the gun.
Thatís why every day, every news hour, journalists pound the pavements,
covering the bad newsóthe chronically deaf government arrogantly staring
down its people dying of bullets, state medical neglect, entirely forgotten
in rural areas where they wander illiterate, poor, without infrastructure or
education as if to say ďbounce me nah.Ē
They are the only ones that count.
Or so I thought until I wrote the piece about my brotherís death. I realised
from the dozens of e-mail that there are thousands of people around us who
are too choked with grief to speak.
They didnít give themselves permission to speak because they didnít think
grief counted as suffering. They have running water and jobs.
My cousin Sonia called me from Bhopal after my brother died on the last day
of last year and said you donít have to say anything. Join the club. Her
brother died young too. I didnít have to tell her about the sudden tears in
an ordinary day. She knew before I finished the sentence. I didnít have to
speak of a lost shared childhood.
Memories get lonely too.
I didnít have to tell her about the heightened senses. The everyday
marvelling that I am here, breathing in rain drenched earth, freshly mown
grass, the surge of laughter, the relief that it exists in the world, and
now, when a child interrupts me to tell me about her day, I stop whatever I
am doing because I know whatís important.
I didnít have to tell her about the aching tenderness with which I see my
parents. She knew.
Witnessing death with love is the ultimate rite of passage. A privilege.
It makes you live twice as hard. Value seconds.
Except when itís butchery. Except when a time comes when the middle class is
being attacked at its most vulnerable point. Sons beheaded, businesswomen
kidnapped, elderly grandparents hacked to death, grandchildren wallowing in
When the middle class shuts down you realise there is no country. Nothing
left to drive.
At the head of this barbaric monster into
which we have mutated is the powerful deaf, at the tail, the murderous poor.
There is no middle. It is hemorrhaging. Murdered?