spoon

Back to square one

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"Today, they are spending millions of rupees to preserve the bodies of the nine militants who launched the attack, just because at international level we have to show that we are showing humanity. But the bodies of martyrs were lying there unattended. What is happening in our country? And when will there be a change?” – Kavita Karkare, wife of late ATS chief, Hemant Karkare.


It’s been a year since the horrible attack that spilled a lot of blood of innocent people and valiant soldiers. It’s been a year since we started mourning. It’s been a year since our blood started stirring. And it’s also been a year since nothing has happened.

We are still in the same position we were a year ago. Every city in India is still as vulnerable as it was a year ago.

So what’s up, Mr. Prime Minister? Which coloured turban have you been asked to wear today by your NRI (Non-Resident Italian) leader? Blue? Fine. It suits you well, but you should try baby pink sometimes. It also suits you well.

Just peel back your memories a little and you’ll remember how the politicians had hollered at the brutal attacks and the country responsible for it – Pakistan, how the media people had behaved for the next few weeks; and you’ll also remember how WE had talked about it. ‘Enough is enough!’ This is what we had said, right? So has anything changed? I guess not.

’93 Bombay serial bomb blasts, bomb blasts on Bombay suburban trains and stations, Varanasi, Jaipur, Panipat, Malegaon, Ahmadabad, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Tripura, Imphal, Assam, etc. These are just a few examples. Apart from ’93 Bombay blasts; there had been an attack every 4 months in the past 5 years in one city or another. The only satisfaction is that we have not been assaulted in the past one year, after 26/11.

Forget 26/11 for a moment and consider the attack on the Parliament of India in 2001. Afzal Guru, the terrorist responsible for such a ghastly act, was sentenced to death by the Supreme Court of India in the 2004. The sentence was scheduled to be carried out on 20 October 2006. Afzal was given a stay of execution and remains on death row. It’s been 8 years since the attack, but he is still enjoying Indian hospitality.

Upon asking the reason for such a nature of law, this is what our former Union Home Minister Mr. Shivraj Patil had to say: "There are 30-35 files pending (mercy petitions). Why do you single out Guru? Why this desperate hurry in the case of Guru? The files of those involved in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case too are still pending."

Shabhas!

To put an icing on this stale cake, Ajmal Kasab’s trial is still going on. Is it that difficult to sentence a terrorist to death?

The recent development is that the FBI has taken David Coleman Headley (Daood Gilani) and Tahawwur Hussain Rana into custody, in connection with 26/11 attacks. This might have been a big blow to the ego of UPA, which was beaming with the lone achievement of catching Ajmal Kasab, as the holes in the Intelligence Agencies became too conspicuous for everyone to notice.

It requires clearance by the Home Ministry in case of persons born in Pakistan, but how come they traveled across the country so easily? That too 9 times between 2006 and 2009!

One of the main reasons behind such a gruesome attack, which was a piece of cake for the terrorists, is the failure of spy agencies.

Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) is the most important among the spy agencies of India, whose primary function is collection of external intelligence, counter terrorism and covert operations. The other important agencies are Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), under the Cabinet Secretariat, is responsible for coordinating and analyzing intelligence activities between the RAW, IB and DIA.

Based on the reports provided by these agencies, Indian National Security Council takes decisions under the leadership of our Prime Minister. It’s no secret now that RAW had warned the JIC about the possible attacks long before 26/11 happened, but the warnings were neglected, which led to a lot of blood spilling on that peaceful evening.

Dr. Manmohan Singh demanded the resignation of the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra and the Home Minister of India, but why didn’t he take any action towards his National Security Advisor, Mr. M. K. Narayanan? Is it because Narayanan is close to Gandhi family? Narayanan was pulled out of retirement when Sonia Gandhi led the congress party to a surprise win in the 2004 polls.

Our Prime Minister takes most of the decisions related to National Security based on Narayanan’s advices. (Decisions related to other issues are influenced by Sonia Gandhi of course).

Bureaucracy!

There are only blunders, and nothing else.

Apart from these, there is one more unusual thing: RAW is not an agency, but a wing of the Cabinet Secretariat. Hence it is not answerable to the Parliament of India on any issue, which keeps it out of reach of the Right to Information Act. Meaning: we cannot know anything about its actions. Unlike intelligence agencies in many democratic countries that are subjected to public and parliamentary scrutiny, the activities of RAW remain shrouded in mystery.

In spite of having so many spy agencies in India, it was Chicago based FBI that made a startling breakthrough by pinning down Headley and Rana.

If there are so many flaws in the system, how can we ever expect that such a barbarous attack will not repeat? What kind of security can we expect? Late ATS chief Hemant Karkare’s wife is still requesting the officials to tell her about her husband’s last minutes. Why didn’t he, along with ACP Ashok Kamte and Inspector Vijay Salaskar, get the help soon? His bullet proof jacket is still missing. When he died, he had multiple chest wounds, and his jacket had eight bullet holes. It is now clear that they were given low quality jackets. If these bullet proof jackets are of low quality, then which company manufactured them? And how did it get the tender to manufacture them? Which politician got them the tender? What kind of bonanza was he offered for such a scam?

There are only questions everywhere, but no answers. Even if there are, they are worth zilch.

“I wouldn’t like to forget the attack, but the fact that the energy and vitality of the place have not been lost should send the message to terrorists that they cannot panic us and create chaos in the city,” said a young girl, who is a regular customer at Café Leopold. This is exactly our problem: these things don’t scare us anymore. Why? Because we have got acclimatized to such things as we’ve seem them all. AK 47, hand grenades, bombs, car bombs, serial blasts, RDX, everything. These things are not new to us, are they?

On the contrary, there is a certain Mr. Barack Obama, who is lending 3.2 billion USD to Pakistan through International Monetary Fund (IMF). Post 9/11, US of A has given around 7.5 billion USD to Pakistan. I wonder why.

Then there is China, which is constantly poking us for all the more infamous reasons. Moreover, its friendship with Pakistan has deepened.

Are these things not enough to get scared? They sure are.

“Even heroes know when to be scared…” – The Rising Tied, Fort Minor.

This is the real time to panic, folks. And there is nothing wrong in panicking. At least it’s better than getting into comfort zone and taking everything in an easy way, isn’t it? It’s time to get scared, because we are not safe enough.


So Mr. Prime Minister, it’s time you chose the colour of your turban all by yourself. We are counting on you.


Copyright © Karthik 2009


If I were a baby again

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This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 4; the fourth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.


1


Funny how some wishes come true sometimes.

My friend and I were having coffee in a café. The place was packed with people – both young and old. Just a couple of tables away from ours, a woman was sitting with her baby. It was the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen. Well, aren’t all babies beautiful? A few minutes later, a girl walked into the café, and now my attention turned towards the babe. She came and sat in front of the woman. The baby smiled and gladly went into the arms of the girl who in turn started kissing and cuddling it. I was so jealous!

“I wish I were a baby,” I said, not taking my eyes off the babe and the baby.

“What would you do if you were a baby?” my friend said flippantly, sipping his coffee.

I looked him in the eye, smiled naughtily and said, “Trust me, dude. You haven’t the vaguest idea what I’d do if I were a baby again…”


***********


That night I slept like I’d never slept before. It was the most peaceful sleep I’d had in years and my dreams were filled with angels and butterflies and magic. When I woke up in the morning, I was still smiling. I opened my eyes to see two pairs of smiling eyes looking at me. I noticed something strange – my mother and granny were looking at least 20 years younger. It was only when my mother took her in her arms that I realized I was a baby – again.

What?! I meant it as a joke at the café yesterday. Has that wish come true? Oh, my god! What am I gonna do now? Wait a second. Am I really a baby again?

“Oh, he’s such a beautiful boy!” My granny exclaimed as my mother kissed my forehead.

Oh, yes, I am a baby again.

I rubbed my eyes and saw the clock on the wall. It was 8.30 am. Normally my mother would yell at me if I ever slept until 7, but now she was happily cuddling me in her arms. Are baby days really that good? I marveled. I then remembered my conversation with my friend. ‘Trust me, dude. You haven’t the vaguest idea what I’d do if I were a baby again.’ Well, it was time to take advantage of my wish that had come true during the strangest period of my life.


***********


I was put back in the crib after my granny and mother were done with my ablutions. My dad came and picked me up proudly like King Mufasa picked up young Simba in The Lion King. My mother joined the party and I giggled joyfully as I was getting all the attention in the world. My parents said in chorus, “Happy Birthday, darling!” Well, I was one year old.

I was enjoying each and every little thing that was happening around me – something that I found strange. Maybe because I knew I wouldn’t enjoy those little things in the future.

I found tremendous joy in doing nothing. I was happy all the time. I didn’t have any expectations. And most importantly I didn’t know so many things. Trust me, it was a boon.

I didn’t know there was something called hatred, I didn’t know there was something called sin; when I looked at the stars at night with my wide, inquisitive eyes, while sitting on my mother’s lap, I wondered how to get hold of them as little did I know that there was something called ‘Impossible.’

I didn’t know anything about ‘will power’ when I took my first steps. I just wanted to do it and I did. I was never worried about my failures as I didn’t know the meaning of ‘failure.’ I didn’t fear anything, because I didn’t know ‘fear’ existed. I always did what I wanted to do without worrying about others’ opinions about me. I sang, I rejoiced, I cried, I laughed, I dreamed without any limitations – I found happiness in everything I did and in everything I experienced.


2


My mother left me on the floor for myself and went inside. I saw a pair of ants that were floundering to carry a small crystal of sugar. That was happening right in front of my eyes and I clapped my hands and laughed as a drop of my saliva fell on the floor. Moments later I heard the chirping of the birds and lifted my head. In the left corner of the room I saw two sparrows fluttering their wings and making delicious sounds. They had somehow found a way into our house. I laughed happily and waggled my body in sheer pleasure. But that pleasure didn’t last as the house maid came and shooed them away. I looked at her, widening my eyes. She smiled at me and started sweeping the floor. I really couldn’t control my anger when she swept the ants off the floor. I cried at the top of my voice, with tears welling up in my eyes. She was flabbergasted. My mother came running and lifted me up.

“What happened?” she asked the maid.

“I don’t know, madam,” she said, giving a confused glance.

I continued crying and I bet she’d have left the job if she had known what I was saying to her in my encrypted baby language.

My mother took me outside and I stopped crying the moment I saw a puppy outside the gate.

“Do you want a puppy to play with?” my mother asked.

I just wrapped my hands around her neck and laughed heartily. I don’t know why, but I was finding extreme joy in such little things of life. This is one aspect I knew I would certainly miss in the future.

A few minutes later she took me to a small park that was just beside our house. Little kids who were slightly older than I were playing around and it was a treat to watch: they ran, they hopped, they shouted, they screamed, they yelled, they laughed, and they fell, lifted themselves up and ran again.

My mother sat on a small stone bench and placed me beside her. I didn’t mind. I started looking around. Every little thing around me had a charm of its own. I was awed! Some time later a yellow coloured butterfly came fluttering in front of me. “Oooooooo,” I made a joyful sound, lifting my hands up in the air. It whirred and fluttered away from me. I was pretty disappointed. It was no where to be seen. Moments later it came again and this time I tried to catch it, but little did I know that catching a butterfly could be difficult. When it came for the third time, I didn’t do anything stupid. I just looked at it and smiled. It made a quick circle around me and sat on my shoulders. I was so happy I laughed and clapped and made joyful sounds. My mother was surprised.

“What’s the matter, my boy?” she said with a smile and picked me up.

The butterfly was nowhere near me now, but I was still happy.


3


Later in the evening, relatives and family friends started pouring in for my birthday party. Pretty girls came and lifted me up and kissed me. And I kissed them back. My mother brought the birthday cake and placed it on the table. Its bright colours attracted me so much I wanted to grab it before anyone could take it away from me like the house maid did in the morning. My mother sat me on a small red chair and made me blow the candle. Everyone sang and clapped. Then she put the handle of the knife in my hand and made me cut the cake.

I was watching everyone silently. It was time to have my vengeance for the crimes they would commit in the future. There was a certain Mr. Bharadwaj, my father’s colleague who also had a one year old son. He would criticize me sometime after 15 years by comparing his son’s 10th std marks with mine, which would make my father go mad at me.

There was a certain Ms. Rekha who would stop my mother from sending me on a trip to Bombay with my friends 16 years later. And there was my uncle who would stop my father from buying me a Yamaha, and in turn convince him into buying me Hero Honda Splendour. All because he would be opening a Hero Honda showroom 10 years later and I’d start going to college in that bike 17 years from now.

These three people were on the top of my list.

So I peed on Mr. Bharadwaj, bit Ms. Rekha’s cheek, and cried at the top of my voice every time my uncle came to pick me up, which made him look like a pathetic loser in front of everyone.

There was also Mr. and Mrs. Raghupati, who would influence my parents in forcing me to take biology in Pre University against my wishes, but I decided to forgive them as I would be having a crush on their daughter in the future.

The ladies retired to the kitchen, the gents went outside and sat in the porch, and I was left to play with the kids. One of the kids opened one of my birthday presents. It was a box of colour pencils. He took a piece of paper and started drawing a house. He got bored with it soon and left the paper and pencil on the floor and went in search of his mother. No sooner had I picked up the pencil than my mother came to me.

“Sorry to have left you alone, darling,” she said, picking me up.

“Your son seems to be interested in writing,” said one of the aunties when she saw me holding the pencil.

“Maybe he’ll become a writer someday,” said another.

Ladies!

I didn’t know whether I’d become a writer, but I was sure of becoming a blogger.

“Oh, come on. He’s just celebrated his 1st birthday. He has a lot of time to decide on his career,” my mother said.

“You don’t know, Tara. You don’t know how fast they grow up,” said one of the older aunties. She then snapped her fingers and said, “Just like that.”


4


I was put in the crib later that night and I slept. But this time my sleep was hampered with so many weird dreams, or should I call them nightmares? I was running away from something I was not sure of. No more angels, no more magic, and certainly no more butterflies.

When I woke up I found myself on the bed, with my little brother sleeping beside me.

“Aren’t you going to get up today? It’s already 6.30,” I heard my mother shouting from the kitchen.

I lay on the bed, with my eyes open. It wasn’t a dream, all right. It was real. But I won’t try to convince you if you don’t believe me.

There was so much fun. Every moment was worth enjoying. There was no tension or pressure of any kind. I neither worried about tomorrow nor fretted about yesterday. The fear of failure I have now never existed in my baby days.

In retrospect one thing that stands apart is the butterfly incident that happened in the park. I now understand that success and happiness and pleasures of life are like butterflies; the more you chase them, the more they evade you. Just stand still and do your job. And they will come and sit on your shoulders.

Like me, should anyone of you get a chance to become a baby again, just try and remember every little thing you do in your baby days, because those little things might just be the solutions to your problems in the future – no matter how complex they are.


********************The End********************


Copyright © Karthik 2009



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55 Fictions - 2

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55 Fiction #3 – Treatment


Prashanth and Raj were having a serious argument.

“I’m gonna kill him this time, I swear,” said Prashanth.

“No, you can’t and even if you can, you shouldn’t,” said Raj.

“I can and I will. You doubt me? Look what I’m gonna do...”

The doctor held Prashanth aka Raj’s arm tightly and sedated him – again.


**********


55 Fiction #4 – Justice


Preeti was found murdered in her apartment. Ramcharan, her husband, was devastated. The motive and the murderer were unknown.

Years later, Ramcharan, now a rich business man, appointed Pallavi as his personal secretary. Some months later he was found brutally murdered in his farmhouse. That day marked Preeti’s 25th death anniversary, and Pallavi’s 25th birthday.


Copyright © Karthik 2009



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