Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light

1 Dec

The nights since the horror was officially declared over have been spent convulsing into a pillow, after futilely seeking comfort in sleep. I know why I tweeted through a large number of those 60 hours. It began with attempting to keep friends abroad and those without access to news updated. But as the hours wore on and my fingers flew over the keyboard, furiously keeping pace with unfolding events, I realized it was my route to sanity. Sleep was unthinkable. I had to DO something to partially mitigate the loss of control and hopelessness I was experiencing. When the siege wound down, I determinedly went back to living out my routine, because I believed I was cocking a snook at the people who had brought my city to its knees.

But the feeling won’t die down. I’m struggling with the sadness and it’s coming out in strange ways. In withdrawal from a slightly bewildered Boy, who moved to Bombay only in his teens. In the need to connect to people who feel the same way. In a fresh batch of tears in the middle of a café. In wanting to talk about my precious city to everyone I think will listen. In staring achingly across at the Oberoi each morning, shrouded in dense smog. In hoping to share the experience with folks who really, truly understand by virtue of having had a similar childhood. People who were here long before there was this. And this is me, the usually inclusive girl who can find something to relate to in every person.

I’m helpless and angry, heartbroken and anguished, as furious monologues in my head yield nothing. I’m running around in circles trying to find ways to help, something concrete, something permanent, something all of us can sustain. And of all the things I yearn for, the one thing I want is for my city not to forget. I don’t want our ‘spirit’ to keep us going, I don’t want us to move on and move past, I don’t want the news reports to be palmed off to the raddiwala, the people who succumbed reduced to grainy images of old hat.

Mourn, Bombay, mourn. I WANT you to wail. Plaster your streets with the names of the murdered, paint the walls with the redness of graves, shriek your questions aloud at the ether, hang your noose on the silences in conversations. Forgetting will be our death trap, tolerance, the last nail. Yes, I know the world’s a zoo; be any other animal but not an ostrich, pound your pain into something tangible, keep it alive until you spark outrage.

Stop, I want to scream, at the city back to work on a Monday morning, the funeral isn’t over. Is this it, the beginning of forgetting, all the mindspace we can afford our present? Why are we such misers when it comes to grieving? Can we really not afford more regret? How does a nation so proud of its ancient history spawn a city that thrives on collective amnesia? Have we swapped our souls for bloated bellies, cramming moremoremore of Mayanagari’s delights?

Weep, Bombay, weep. Seethe, Bombay, seethe. Rage, howl, heal. Do anything, show anything, but not your tattered, intact spirit.

Do not go gentle into that good night. Linger, my sweet Bombay, in the twilight zone… just a little longer.

9 Responses to “Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light”

  1. Nino's Mum December 1, 2008 at 5:46 pm #

    Don’t know what to say OJ, but suffice to know I rage with you too. I for one, will not forget. And I am willing to hear more about your beloved city.

  2. gooddaysunshine December 1, 2008 at 6:26 pm #

    My heart refuses to be still and my mind is simply not in my work. I want to do something but I don’t know what.

  3. rajni December 1, 2008 at 8:06 pm #

    I agree with every word you write OJ.
    I’m tired of hearing of the “Mumbai Spirit ” too.
    I yearn for the city of my childhood where terror had no role.
    I want my kiddos to grow here & live without fear.
    But I don’t know if it will remain a dream now.

  4. Orange Jammies December 1, 2008 at 9:48 pm #

    Nino’s Mum: Which is why this blog gives me comfort. In daily offline life, I encounter such apathy, it makes me murderous.

    gooddaysunshine: We’ll figure something out. I’ve signed up for CNN-IBN’s anti-terror campaign. Perhaps the media will be able to herd our collective energy and channelize it into some sustainable changes. I’m also looking around for avenues to support the families of soldiers and commandos who died in the line of fire.

    All of you, if you have any ideas or connections, please do share them.

    rajni: I want all those things too, Rajni. But they won’t come to us now. Not unless we shake things up and make them happen.

  5. Chips December 1, 2008 at 10:42 pm #

    OJ, if you do find a way of supporting the families of the police/armed forces, could you please put it up on your blog? They deserve our eternal gratitude and I would like to show my respect.

  6. Anamika December 2, 2008 at 1:25 am #

    The whole impact of this act manifested itself in my nightmares last night. Not before when the attacks were still going on. I was a little curious as to why now but I can see from your post that I am not alone. Its strangely comforting to hold on a little longer because we hope that the anger, fear and helplessness will somehow get a voice. Somehow, someone who can make a change will notice that this time we will not go back to normal so soon.
    I grew up in Mumbai, not in the South though but I share your passion and love for the city. And I also understand when u mention your need to connect to people who are grieving like you.
    Please keep posting on your blog, ideas and options for us civilians to get involved.

  7. dipali December 2, 2008 at 1:52 pm #

    This particular tragedy has gone way beyond the others, OJ.
    It doesn’t seem forgettable in any way Even far away, the sheer evil that destroyed so much in those endless hours, the horror remains so pervasive. This is an attack that has changed many, irrevocably.
    Yes, trying to sleep is torment- until sleep actually comes there are so many horrendous thoughts abounding.

  8. Orange Jammies December 3, 2008 at 12:50 am #

    Chips: I certainly will.

    Anamika: You’re most definitely not alone. My dream last night involved me in a car kidnapping situation where I kept telling myself to lock the doors but they opened them anyhow. There was a gang, there was danger, and then thankfully I was awake. Thank you for connecting here.

    dipali: I’m so relieved to realize that I’m not batty and others find it hard too. The first line of your comment made me feel so much better, because I received an email last night that had me disgusted and angry, but more on that later.


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