I didn’t sleep well the next day also. Sometimes, these dreams were really disturbing. Getting into a suicide driver’s mind was a nightmare. I mean- a bad dream is a nightmare, right? Thank you- I thought so. But was there some reality to these sleep time journeys of mine?
The screams. Then the thuds. The thuds of bodies being hit and thrown about. Human beings-sentient, and animated with the exuberance of life- being instantly transformed into bodies, one thud at a time. The momentum of the vehicle pulping them into fleshy amorphous masses of blood and meat. Craniums bursting with a sickening pop, spewing off-white brain matter smeared with red. And me behind the wheel- exulting and unrepentant- zooming maniacally towards the inevitable retribution that will surely follow. Retribution that doesn’t deter.
Something drives the driver. The same thing drives wearers of suicide vests and AK 47 toting teenagers.
People are alarmed. They talk about massive blood baths that are to follow. Some carp about the clash of civilizations. I listen with a lump the size of a grenade forming in my throat. Is the end of civilization near?
It was when the shit hits the chopper blade (In my mind; for I have panic attacks then) that I run to my Guru. He is a doctor- Dr. H R Guru (MPBS). I don’t have to explain that H.R. stands for Highly Realistic, and MPBS for Minimum Possible BullShit. Everyone knows this. That is; everyone knows this Guru.
I blabbered out my fears to him. Terrorism is a completely new thing. It is the latest and the most significant threat faced by humanity. Unpreventable. Inexorable. Terrible.
Guru smiled. “It is very new. Is it?” He drawled. Was he pulling my hind limb? He had a lot of ‘pull’ in high places. My leg doesn’t belong there.
“Are you sure you are not having Historical Myopia?” He asked. He had told me what it was. Recent events were greatly important to everyone. Even professional historians were not immune to it.
“Have you heard of the words-‘zealot’ and ‘assassin? Zealots were a society of Jews who lived in Roman occupied Judea. They went around with concealed daggers. Planning their attacks in public places, these rebels stabbed Roman officials and their local colluders after getting near to them by stealth. Many run and escape. Many couldn’t. That was two thousand years ago. Assassins were a group of Shia Muslims In the Middle Ages. They attacked high officials with knives knowing full well that they will be killed by the guards. Suicide stabbers.”
“Uh…” I faltered. I didn’t know this. But that was not new. Recent conversations with friends fogged some areas of my brain. Cliches- “All Muslims are not terrorists; but all terrorists are Muslims”. That was a horribly partisan view from one of my so-called friends. He was quoting some clever person. Clever- but very inappropriate. I told this to Dr. Guru.
“Have you forgotten the Thamil tigers? The LTTE was famous till very recently. They even ‘assassinated’ Rajiv Gandhi, for God’s sake.”
That was true. How easily we forget things.
“I am sure you would have forgotten who killed Indira Gandhi.”
Even more true. That was when I was in School. I remember the shock. The turbaned Sikh terrorists. The popular culture demonised the Sikhs back then. Now they have returned to the lovable mainstream. And part of the ‘Arsh Bharath’ culture of India. Public memory was like sculptures in the sand. Here today, twisted out of context and buried tomorrow. Then there were the Naxals, before my time. But they were still green in my father’s memories.
“But now it is a BIG problem” I held out my hands to show the bigness.
“How big? Bigger than the wars, the civil wars and the genocides that has been the staple of human history since antiquity?”
Well, I thought. We were discussing human violence for some time now. Major wars happened between countries. First and Second world wars killed human beings in the range of tens of millions. Those were not the greatest wars to ravage mankind, if you look at the proportion of the population of the countries that were killed. There were the Napoleonic wars. The wars of religion, in the middle ages. The Mangol conquests. Thousands of battles and hundreds of wars. Civil wars, ethnic conflict and tribal wars from ages past add themselves to the statistics.
Genocides were a different class. A semi-state or militia sponsored program of extermination. Hitler’s holocaust killed three million Jews. Pol pot finished off a million Cambodese. Stalin and Mao slowly but surely executed, starved, tortured, labour-camped, and generally made sure the entire section of their country’s population opposed to them ended their feeble real or imagined opposition to Utopia once and for all. Older programs include as their victims; Africans, American Indians, Australian aboriginals, Dalits, Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, heretics and the list can go on and on forever. Almost.
The voice of Dr. Guru broke my thought process:
“On an average, three hundred people are killed in India every year. Do you know how many are killed in traffic accidents in India?” As I was silent, he continued:
“Around three hundred people are killed per day on our roads. Do you know that fifty thousand people are murdered in India every year? Fifty thousand.” Guru calmly stroked his beard, now a full bodied bush of grey. I do hate him sometimes. He seemed almost callous. It was as if he was unconcerned about the terrorists killing us. I said so. I accused him of colluding with them in his mind. Not to be repulsed by their acts and thought process was like heresy. It was heresy.
“You mistake me, my friend;” He said. “I am outraged by it. Distressed in my soul. As I am horrified of some of the things that you guys commit”
“As a two lakh year old being, I cannot be quite as human, ever.” He said.
“Bull” I said.
“You can say Bullshit.” He opened out his arms in a gesture of magnanimity. “But as you know, I have got MPBS.”
“From Benaras Hindu University? Or is it from Aligarh Muslim University?” I muttered.
“From Malabar Christian College.” He grinned. I felt like slapping him. He needles me about my ancestry. But one can’t slap Gurus, as everyone knows and agrees in our part of the world.
“Terrorism is cowardice. It is killing and maiming innocents- women and children. It is despicable. Utterly horrifying.” He clarified. That is not the point. One has to have perspective.
Terrorists are people with a political agenda. They want to create maximum terror and confusion, with spectacular and senseless acts. We humans react to the unknown, and unpredictable danger, with horror. It is not only Historical Myopia, but the HH of the media is also to blame.”
“Yeah. Horrible Hype.” I nodded. Now I felt that this threat, may not wipe out mankind. It is a horrible thing. A horrible nuisance. I wanted to learn more. I waited for Guru to enlighten me.