26/11: No closure for the nation

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New Delhi, Nov.26 (ANI): Two years since the barbaric attack by 10 Pakistani trained terrorists that resulted in the death of 166 people in Mumbai, the country's wounds are festering and there is no closure in sight.

No amount of venting of anger against politicians for the tardy pace of police reforms, for the delays in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the attack, no candle light vigils, no silent grief, will bring catharsis to a nation, that mourns today.

Is it time to stop with the sympathy and tend to the wounds of those who lost their loved ones? Is it time to quell the hatred against those who planned, plotted and executed the attacks? Is it time to stop weeping and demand to know why action has been so slow in plugging all the loopholes that could result in another such attack, much in the same fashion and more so, with the same result?

The anger today will be vented against the administration and the media. This is because these two arms of the polity are supposed to provide answers. When the weeping is over, the questioning begins.

It is a journalistic necessity to report the events today. But the faces will bring back the horrors. The faces will also jog the recollections of facile explanations and empty words that some of our leaders gave us then, and continue to give us. The media's greed for 26/11 stories is insatiable and politicians know it. They will be there today at events where there will outpouring of grief as well as understated mourning.

They are damned if they do and damned if they don't. There is no right way to grieve. It is a matter of personal choice, but grieve we all do, and must. "Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break," said William Shakespeare.

If there was the quiet grieving of 26/11 police chief Hemant Karkare's widow that is the abiding image of that night, there is also the bewilderment of a father who lost his son, a major in the army, not in war but battling an enemy soldier in civilian clothes.

A retired ISRO engineer, Unnikrishnan said, "I lost my son in Mumbai on Friday. Though I do not like to call him a martyr, I can proudly say that he has done something for this country."

How do you express condolence to a parent who has lost a child? You may recall the tale of a distraught woman who approached the Buddha with the body of her dead child, pleading with him to bring the child back to life.

The Buddha said "bring to me a mustard seed from any household where no one has ever died and I will fulfill your wish."

Obviously the poor woman could find no household where death had not visited, and, she then is supposed to have realized the universality of death.

When I first read this story as a child, I thought the Buddha was cruel. Why couldn't he just perform a miracle and bring the child back to life. He was God, wasn't he?

I also couldn't understand how to make sense of The Gita's teachings, which says, "For death is certain to one who is born...thou shalt not grieve for what is unavoidable."

Once Krishna said this, he proceeded to tell Arjun to go ahead and kill. No, here too I didn't find the answer.

And Allah's messenger is supposed to have got angered at wailing at death, and said, "This is not of my teachings! A screamer has no right (to do that). The heart gets sad, the eye sheds tears, but the Lord may never be angered." The lord gets angry if a person cries aloud? This angry God too, I couldn't understand.

So religion gave me no answers. I stopped seeking any.

Grieving is personal. If words provide relief, verbalize it. If lighting a candle alone or with a group helps in some way to mitigate grief that is also acceptable.

"While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till it be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it," said Samuel Johnson. By Smita Prakash (ANI)

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