Dear Prime Minister
Sometime, today or tomorrow, you will say that I am resilient and strong and that you are proud of me.
I do not want to be resilient and strong and have no desire for you to be proud of me.
More importantly, I am neither resilient nor strong.
I am just a citizen of India, who wants to lead a normal, happy and honest life.
Over the last few decades, I have not been able to lead that. I live in fear – and that is no exaggeration. I may seem, in your opinion, to be resilient and strong, but I am neither.
The first time I was told that I was resilient and strong was when Indira Gandhi was assassinated. My uncle, living in Delhi, had a Sikh driver. My uncle had to be resilient and strong to ensure that no harm came to a trusted and loyal driver of many years. My cousin’s husband, a Sikh, running a hotel in Calcutta, counted on his staff to stay alive. After the mayhem ended, I was resilient and strong.
Many years later, on 12 March 1993, I was in Chennai, at the reception of my sister’s wedding. Actors Kamalahasan and Sarika attended the reception, as did Justice VR Krishna Iyer. But who cared about the reception once we heard about the Bombay bomb blasts? After the mayhem ended, I was resilient and strong.
Many years later, on 11 July 2006, my daughter was studying at Jai Hind College, Churchgate, Mumbai. As was agreed between father and daughter, she called me as she reached Churchgate station, before boarding the fast local to Bandra. Then terror struck, and I had no way to reach my daughter as the mobile networks collapsed. Hundreds of people died; my daughter reached home safe. After the mayhem ended, I was resilient and strong.
On 26 November 2008, I was with the entire advertising community of the country at the Turf Club, Mumbai, celebrating the Emvies, when terror struck again. I lost a friend, Rohinton Maloo, at the Taj. Another friend, Rahul Welde, was also at the Taj, but lived to tell the tale. After the mayhem ended, I was resilient and strong.
Last evening, I was at an exclusive live telecast of TED. I was with friends and like-minded people relishing ideas that were worth spreading – and then we heard of the blasts in Mumbai. That was the end of the TEDcast. All of us were grateful that we were alive and worried about all those who could have been anywhere near the locations of the three blasts in Mumbai.
I reached home, both grateful and despondent – but certainly not resilient and strong.
And I’m not alone. Lakhs of Indians could write a letter similar to this, illustrating it with examples of how terror has touched their lives. They will also tell you that they are neither resilient nor strong.
Over the past month or so, we’ve been both diverted and consumed by the prospective spectacle of a Cabinet reshuffle. We, resilient and strong in our support for your government, hoped that you would be resilient and strong, and announce a team that leads the country out of the mire it is in.
And you gave us rag, tag and bobtail, an insult to all those who believe in you and your governance. You are consumed by, and hide behind, the excuses of managing a coalition, of pandering to various special interests and the imperatives of politics.
I’ve had enough. I can no longer be resilient and strong.
Can you start governing, please?
You are the Prime Minister; you need to be resilient and strong.
We are mere citizens who have no wish to be either.
While the images we are using might make some readers uncomfortable, we are using these images to clearly show the damage and trauma caused to humans from terrorist attacks.
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Updated Date: Jul 15, 2011 13:31:58 IST