Wednesday, December 3, 2008


It wasn't an ordinary day. Just a terrible one. As we prepared to give thanks, others were in the process of saying good-bye to those they'd lost. Some others were surrounded by death. Perhaps being burnt alive. Women like me. With children, perhaps. 13-year-old's, their lives and dreams ahead of them. Men, who could have been my father. Or brother. Their lifeless forms caved under heavy limbs. Pools of blood intermingling freely. The Marathi Manoos' with the Bhaiya.

As I nursed my eight-month-old, I heard about the orphaned toddler. Found with his pants soaked in blood, they said. His mother was as old as I. In her late 20s. Moshe had miraculously escaped they said, his tear-streaked, frightened face said otherwise.

So the day went by. Amid news about "highly trained" killers in their early 20s. Assassins with no remorse. Perhaps without any parents or family either. Those were a dozen. The others govern still. From what I know, most have family of their own. Sons and daughters. Wives and husbands. Parents and siblings. Uncles, aunts and cousins. But contrition? That's too much to ask for. After all the ones burnt alive, cremated and buried were not their own. What's a mother or two? A police officer or three? There are million others in the  slaughter house. "Gujjus," "Bhaiyas," "Madrasis," "Bawas," and "Mussalman." And oh yes, the "Marathi Manoos" too.  Resilient as ever. 26/11s can come and go, the living can all die. But, lets keep the relentless spirit of Mumbai alive, shall we?

I watched until I couldn't anymore. My mind paralyzed and numb. As the TV sat silently and the baby slept, snuggled in her father's arms, I tried to cook. To relieve myself of the images from TV. To somehow lull my mind into a sense of calm, however false. To somehow rid myself of the guilt that all I was doing was intellectualizing. I cut open the two-pound pumpkin, truly admiring something for the first time that day. It was beautifully colored, pale orange, mixed in with some warm yellow. Almost peach, but not quite. I pulled the seeds out by the handfuls, placing a couple in the container that holds a mixture of tamarind, black-eyed peas, and coriander seeds. Then, I sliced and diced, finer than the recipe demanded. I am usually one to follow instructions precisely, but that day, dicing felt good. Therapeutic and cathartic.

I was about done with pureeing the pumpkin, when I heard my daughter cry and scream at the same time. The kind that meant she was petrified and wanted Mommy to pick her up and hold her close. As I rushed to her side, AM appeared with her from the bedroom. Her cherubic, tear-streaked face lighting up with an instant smile, when I took her in my arms. I hugged her close, inhaling her sweet baby smell. Then, as I looked into my daughter's big, brown eyes, I couldn't help but see the sweet face of two-and-a-half year old Moshe. And his mother in her late 20s. As old as I.


Manasi said...

I remember what we discussed esrlier. And these are not empty words, these are memories burned into our soul. These words remind us of the burden we have to carry and hopefully these words will be instrumental in bringing about the change we are hoping for. Tall order? Well, it has to start somewhere, right?

DEESHA said...

that was real sad .. I couldn't take my mind off it for about 10 days. Poor lil Moshe .. Having grown up in mumbai subarbs, the city means a lot to me .. Iam actually speechless

VIK said...

yea the cry of baby moshe was enuf to send a chill down ur spine...just the thots of him finding out in a few years of the the brutality subjected to him wud give rise to another hater of a community.
Wonder if this great divide between the communities ever bridge (thanks to the hate crimes,masterminded by &%#$@*@ of humanity)....bloody pumpkins