Saturday, December 29, 2012

For My Two-Year Old Daughter

Dear Drishti, 

I woke up today to find that a 23-year old Indian girl has died in Singapore. 
The girl had been sent there for treatment for the injuries she had sustained a couple of weeks back when six people raped her in a bus while she was returning home from a movie. I really hoped she would pull through because she was sent to the best hospital for organ transplants in Asia but... 

When I read the headline on a website, I told your mother and she did what I was dreading. She switched on the TV. As I tried to shut out the newscaster solemnly giving out details of her death and reactions from Twitter filled up the bottom part of the screen, I was taken aback by how much I was affected by this news. I hugged your sleeping form tight and had to make a Herculean effort to blink back tears. 

And I wondered why? What triggered this response? 

As everyone knows, I am a cynic. And slightly unemotional. I don't believe I can change the world. And I am okay with that.    
Today, I was confronted by the thought - for the first time in my life - that my cynicism could be cowardice. In fact, it is cowardice. 
When I talk about protest marches being ineffective, I mean I am uneasy going where there is a risk of some crazy neta ordering a lathi charge. When I say how voting one party out would mean more of the same from another party, I am actually saying that I don't want to waste a holiday standing in queue. When I say death penalty for rapists is not the answer, the truth is I don't know what the answer is. And maybe I don't want to find out. 
And you know the bigger problem, Baby? I am in a majority. 
An overwhelming majority of us are exactly like this and we spend our outrage through a few jokes on Twitter. We don't vote. We don't go to protests. We don't fight. We don't want to change the world. Because it never happens to us. 

I don't know what made me react differently this time. 
Was it the fact the girl was returning from Select Citywalk, where we go so often? 
Was it because she watched Life Of Pi, that we have been meaning to watch for some time now? 
Or was it because of her first reaction when she regained consciousness - "I want to live"? 

Either way, I was gutted because I did not know the answer to the question I have to answer. 
In another twenty years, you will also be twenty-three. You will also go out in the evenings. You will go for movies. Hell, I want you to go for movies and plays and concerts. My fear, my terror, my gut-wrenching panic stems from the thought that if I am not able to change the world in these twenty years, what will happen to you? 
But the question really is - if I am not able to change myself in these twenty years, what will happen to you? 

Love -
Baba
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