Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hyderabad blasts: Thank God it wasn't me!

Thank God it wasn't me, neither it was with any of my kith and kin. This is the first thought that occurs within anyone who is not effected with a tragedy of this sort. I rummaged through my old diary where I had attached a cut out from the newspaper which had featured an article on exactly this thought. That was when Orissa was battered with the super cyclone. It is a heart wrenching piece of prose. Please read it. It will stir your conscience.


When is it going to be politically correct to tell a joke again, go to a party, admit you are enjoying life? Post disaster, how long should collective mourning, as distinct from the individual grief of these who have lost loved ones-last? Disaster creates an aftermath of moral ambiguity. The initial shock of horror gives way to an insidious sense of guilt. But at the heart of that sympathy, there is a small but irrepressible inner voice which says:Thank God it wasn't me. This is the guilt of the survivor's, a haunting disquiet, as affective as it is irrational. That those who have died have somehow died in our stead, by some inexplicable calculus of mortality lost their lives so that we may live. Survival is tinged with shame. That we the living have, after the fact, allowed others to die on our behalf, death by proxy. Guilt sharpens grief gives it is a jagged edge.

If we recognize this guilt, we exorcise it as the specious spectre that it is. Thank God it wasn't me. The thought is as normal and natural as breathing. Or indeed as dying. Where in this is there cause for shame? Or of sorrow for the sake of sorrow. Life absolves the living. Thank God it wasn't me. It is not a secret wish for another's death. It is an affirmation of a celebration called life, of which death is also an inseparable part. The show goes on, with or without us.


Anonymous,  Tuesday, August 28, 2007 1:47:00 PM  

After 9-11 the Mayor of New York eventually went on "Saturday Night Live" a sketch comedy program televised nationwide from New York and told people it was appropriate to laugh again.

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