Last night was the anniversary of the first day of the Bombay attacks. Most of you know I went to cover the story for PBS -- I reached Bombay on Day 3, after the major operations were over, and stayed for the next week, talking to people and sussing out the security situation. It was heartbreaking.
Been a year, and I've been revisiting those days in my head. It makes me so sad.
So, imagine my surprise, when I opened the Indian Express this morning -- to find the lead article called "The Vanished Moment" asking why show of grief by the "middle class" is pushing to "replicate -- artificially, inaccurately, in miniature, and in bad taste -- the trappings of America's grief?" I'm sure not what sort of show of grief would be deemed appropriate by the columnist and others who may share his view. Perhaps, since we are Indian and not America, we must always beat our chests and sob uncontrollably? Perhaps, since we are Indian and used to violence, we should not try and be this affected by an event that should ideally bounce off us? Perhaps we need to apologize that the Bombay attacks affect a demographic that has easy access to the news media and therefore dominate the news?
We have not had the hysteria that surfaced in America, the columnist argued, so why are we trying to be America by holding vigils? Are we going to do this for every attack? Must our grief be a "cheap knockoff"?
I, for one, am deeply offended. Say what you will about TV channels cashing in our collective urban grief, but to chide people for showing their solidarity with victims, survivors, the buildings, the city and for showing up to make themselves feel better is rubbish. Perhaps if we could all write national columns, people wouldn't need to take to the streets to express themselves.
I never thought you'd have to be present at the scene of a massacre to feel sympathy, but I might just be proven wrong today. To call emotions still unresolved from that attack "synthetic" is awful. Have a heart.
India is not America. 26/11 is not 9/11. I think we know that.
Don't tell us to get over it. YOU get over it.
PS - You blame the country for comparing the Bombay terror attacks to the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York. In your article, you have compared "genuine collective emotion" for Bombay with grief for Princess Diana's death.
PPS- I was told many years ago to lock my idealism in a box because that's the only way I will succeed in life. I beg to differ.