It was with helplessness that I read an article in one of the newspapers about how school kids in certain areas of Karachi were not able to attend their school safely because of the ethnic differences. A kid claimed he was friends with the school mates form the other ethnic community and they even played together afterschool, but they say they cannot protect him because their own lives will be in danger, in doing so.
Another article read of how Hindus in Baluchistan who have been living there for centuries were fearful of sending their kids to schools as kidnappings for ransom and killings of their community goes on. Although they have no animosity with the Muslims in neighbourhood, but now they all are scared to mingle with them.
In brief, the hatred of a handful prevailed over the helplessness of the lot.
Before I could finish, the news broke of Karachi blast in the DHA where along with others, innocent passers by a mom and her son got killed.
What prevailed here too was nothing but hatred.
I know first hand, exactly how it feels to be helpless in the face of hatred.
I was a first year medical student in New Delhi, when Indira Gandhi was assassinated in October 1994. The riots spread as fast as the speed of sound of the news. Delhi’s panorama was puking hatred and smoke from every direction.
I remember how a Sikh girl from my college cried helplessly, to go home and be safe. She came to know that her brother had left home an hour ago to pick her up, but did not reach.
Parents were coming to pick up their daughters, from the girl’s hostel, and narrating the harrowing tales of seeing limbs and other body parts splattered across the usual streets. These parents, were reluctant to take this Sikh girl with them to drop her home. Why would I blame others, when I felt the same helplessness, and feared what will happen when my parents come, will they not take her too. I called up my parents to not come, and I stayed back in the hostel terrified. The next day when I went home in a bus, all I saw was blood stained streets and burn’t building all the way to home.
I do not remember how did she go home, but we learnt days later that her brother got killed on the way and never came back home.
Again, amidst the helplessness of us all, hatred prevailed.
The same story was repeated with my parents, as they were left in the cold, during the riots that followed 1992 Babri Masjid incident. Many Muslim houses were chalked in Delhi. Being a staunch secularist my Dad had built a house in a compound where other University professors resided, without bothering that it had almost negligible Muslim population. However, that day none of his University colleagues or friends came forward to shield them in case of any danger. There was a criminal silence from the friends and the neighbours. As my mother explained later, that was the first time she saw my father cry with tears, not for his life, but at the intensity of the prevailing hatred. Once the crisis was over, a few true friends did come up, explaining their helplessness.
Once again, amidst the cream of the society, hatred prevailed.
My grandfather often narrated of an incident when during the 1947 riots a Sikh boy had come to drop a pregnant Muslim woman to Jama Masjid area, but was not let to go back alive, despite the helpless cries from the woman’s family to spare him.
The helpless family members could do nothing as the hatred prevailed.
I know I can never be able to guess from where this business of hatred all began, but can we really dare dream a day when the hatred propagated by a handful of vested interests will not prevail over the helpless masses ?
This reminded me of a discourse I had read about the controversy between Tagore and Gandhi during the non-cooperation movement against the British in 1930s.
Tagore had warned Gandhi by saying: “….besides, hatred of the foreigner could later turn into a hatred of Indians different from oneself.”
Gandhi on the other hand believed that this non-cooperation would dissolve Hindu-Muslims differences.
Ultimately Tagore was proved right, and Gandhi had to shift his non cooperation against the British into a non violent movement.
The same corollary of Tagore’s could easily be applied to the situation in Pakistan, too.
What began as a hatred for the foreign faiths has turned into hatred among Pakistanis different from eachother.
And ironically a handful of vested interest first made the helpless common Pakistanis hate the foreign faiths and now have turned the Pakistanis of different sects and ethnicities hate each other.
This business of hate has to stop somewhere. Whether it is for a fellow Indian/ Pakistani of different ethnicity, of a different faith or of a foreigner of different color, we have to shout in the face of hatred: “Enough is enough”.
Or else, as poet E E Cummings lamented: Hatred bounces.