Saturday, September 03, 2005

1984 Riots through the Retrospectoscope

They were burning him as if playing a normal street game. A few kept him pinned down to the ground while others poured petrol on him. After kicking him to the content of their hearts they torched him. With a burning body, he ran here and there. Someone brought a burning tire and with the help of a long rod and put it around his neck, receiving a great round of applause. They clapped and they chatted. There was no sound coming from him. He just ran like a giant flame, aimlessly flailing his arms in order to capture something in the air. They playfully avoided him, giggling, joking. Then he fell on the ground, giving up the fight against the unknown demons. Some just danced around without purpose, clapping each others’ backs. None looked angry. None of them looked familiar. I watched this from my window. I knew that it was just a matter of someone pointing to our house. With bated breath I waited. Every second was like an hour. I knew they would move on looking for the next victim to kill, the next house or shop to loot and burn, but when? Would they discover our house before that? This thought redefined the way I think of home. This was the same road that used to look so friendly, brimming with neighbors and tens of familiar faces. Now, at a grey dusk, it looked like the shadow of hell, with strange, unknown monsters wandering around as if they owned the world. In my right hand I held my crutch, and in my left hand I held a cricket bat. My legs trembled with fear and excitement while I remembered my grandfather saying, “If we have to die, Veera (brother), let’s make sure we take one of them with us.” I knew I couldn’t even raise the heavy bat but it was kind of reassuring to hold it. My sisters had already been sent upstairs to our Hindu neighbors. I had refused to go, and my mother had silently accepted that if we were attacked, I was to be the first one to confront the mob because whenever loud noises seemed to be approaching, she would say, “Pali uth, crutches pale!” (Pali, get up and put on your crutches!)

Read the Rest of the touching tale at Amrit's Blog

and my earlier post on the subject
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