Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sepulchral Winter in Delhi

Its been cold, and the skies so grey, one feels afraid to look at it. The planes stopped flying for a couple of days, and it seems like twilight all day long. I have never felt so cold, but then every winter seems colder than the last, and every summer very very hot. One morning  I woke up, and read the newspapers to find that a friend's husband had fallen to his death. My neighbours and I rushed there, and found her grieving and puzzled. Later, the story unfolded with tragic twists and turns. His death had been the result of kangaroo courts publicly devoured on tv. My friend's husband had been accused of rape, that he had spiked a guest's drink and then violated her. Battalions of friends turned up at the CPI office courtyard where his body was taken from the morgue. None of us believed that he could have done this. But it was too late to help him, and his friends who had tried to protect him from this terrible ending, by providing him emotional support during the last months of his life were very distraught.
Many of us know that anyone who takes on  chroniclingpolitical vendettas and writes about perpetrators come to difficulties, or their families do. And in the case of my friend's husband, a professional activist this too came to pass. As his body went into the electric crematorium, the hatchet opening to take him into the flames, the young people who had been trained by him, and cherished him saluted him. The fire was huge, the body small. I saw it by chance, when we had all stepped out, and I looked back. The fire was immense, and the body lay there wrapped in its shroud, immersed in the final flame. Samar's father, Meenakshi's husband, Comrade Khurshid Anwar who had more friends than he had ever imagined in that sorrowful moment when he stepped off the ledge, or was pushed off by rumour and the invective of hate. All of us asked, as he had too before he died, why did the alleged victim, not gone to the police, registered a case, gone to a hospital, submitted herself for  medical examination  and dna testing...why for three months did her friends and her supporters do nothing other than spread rumours, visiting a tv channel to air their story? Rape has become such a common word in Delhi today, that we remind ourselves everyday to breathe and live, to be one with the universe, to hope for tomorrow.