Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Night snippet from sleepless city

It was past one in the night. I stood outside the old building with a couple of other women. The night shift security guards stood nearby.

One woman clicked her tongue and stared into the distance when talking about tomorrow. The day of the Ayodhya verdict. It is enough to say 'The Verdict' these days. Everyone understands. Everyone in our generation at least.

The other lady began to point out the street where she saw flames rising against the horizon, in 1992. Someone else mentioned hacked limbs. Earlier in the day, many people around me had mentioned a hospital. Let there be a hospital in Ayodhya instead. I had nodded to myself, silently. Yes, let it be that way.

Then the security guard said: "Arre, but for that one masjid broken, so many hundreds of temples have been broken since then... around the world."

I did not say 'since when?' Or 'who was talking about temples and mosques?' Or anything else. I got into the cab and went home.

Who knows what this verdict is about? It doesn't seem to matter much to me or to others of a similar class and cultural background - temples, mosques, who cares? Is this too a class issue then?

And what of the younger generation - the ones who do not remember 1992? Those who don't know where Ayodhya is, or what was broken down, or who was responsible and who could have stopped it - even they have opinions on the subject. Sometimes guarded, sometimes just innocently communal. Us. Them. The usual.

Makes me wonder about the young people who went berserk across the country in 1992-93. Did they know where Ayodhya is? Did they know the name of their prime minister? Makes me think of the young men I met in 2002, just before Godhra and the Gujarat riots. They too wanted to go to Ayodhya - take along bricks and their bodies, build a Ram temple. All between 18 and 30, making applications to the Bajrang Dal, thinking they were being carefully hand-picked for something really important.

Did they know where they were headed?

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