A Shameful Relief…

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 PMNov (Cinema, Friends, Media, Musings, Poetry, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

I was sharing, via SMS, a fresh ghazal on personal tragedy when Faizan’s name started blinking on my cell phone. I thought he had something to say about my new ghazal for which he had called me. No. There was a larger tragedy outside my personal tragedy. “Professor did you hear about the plane crash in Mangalore?” asked Faizan. I had not heard about the tragedy so I asked him for further details. “This morning at around 6:30,” said Faizan and then the wall clock at my place was showing 8 a.m.

Once Faizan and I were done with our telephonic conversation I immediately rang up Shiv Sunny to ask if any of our friends was to emplane that day. As exams were over and so was the course for Shiv Sunny and his batch-mates they were all leaving Manipal one by one. “No Sir, nobody,” said Shiv Sunny. This piece of information by Shiv Sunny brought some relief in me because Faizan had informed me that around 160 of them had charred to death in the plane crash.

With a sense of relief (that of the 160 there is no friends) I switched on the television set to inform myself about the tragedy. Almost all news channels, as expected, were giving away ‘breaking news’. The ‘popular’ Kannada news channel TV-9 was focusing heavily on charred bodies and was playing the same visual again and again in his usual insensitive style. It annoyed me and I changed the channel. Yes, it annoyed me when I was at Vaidehi’s place after an hour or so, even she said that she couldn’t watch TV-9 and the visuals that they were playing and we also spoke about some ethical journalism unethical journalism and also sensitive journalism and insensitive journalism.

The news of Air India crash was in the air that all of us were breathing, Mangalore being just 65 kilometers away from us. Everyone was discussing the same and voicing their own ‘fact finding’ reports. I too spoke about it and discussed about it with special reference to TV-9 and its journalism, which is not at all a new topic among friends. That evening when we went to watch the (dirty) movie Kites a girl standing the queue to buy tickets, was asking a person close by, “I hope they haven’t cancelled the show because of the plane crash. Have they?” Life was moving as it had to unaffected by the Air India crash.

Unaffected? Yes. No. It had affected me till I learnt that none of my friends and beloved ones were in it. The news had unsettled me and that is exactly why I had called Shiv Sunny immediately to know if anyone dear to us was there in the plane. (Then I did not know that the plane was arriving from Dubai and not taking off from Mangalore) But once I knew that all the 160 odd who were charred to death were strangers, there was a sense of relief with which I could switch on the television, analyze the news, its ethical unethical sensitive and insensitive elements and also go to watch a movie.

That night as I was about to crash on the bed and sleep I received an SMS. I open the message to see that it is by a man whom I respect a lot. The message read, “Terrible tragedy of flight! I hope all is well with you and all friends are fine…”

Do we look at ourselves, analytically and critically, only when our elements and nature comes through someone else? I guess so, hence the popular statement reads, “Our mistakes irritate us the most when we see them in others.”

The message reading, “I hope all is well with you and all friends are fine,” was a reflection of me. I had felt great relief when I got to know that out of the 160 odd there was no one who was dear to me- a friend. The ‘terrible tragedy’ became just news with that sense of relief. This sense of relief in a way was disrespect shown to the 160 odd lives that the world lost in a ‘terrible tragedy’. Looking at the roof, lying on the bed, I asked myself – what did the tragedy mean to me? I had no answer for my own question. I recollected that moment of relief when Shiv Sunny said, “No Sir, nobody.” I felt ashamed of myself. My shameful relief had become insensitive to the ‘terrible tragedy’.

After a day had passed I learnt that the relatives of those who died in the plane crash were all asked to identify the bodies of their dear ones. Some would identify an unidentifiable body as that of their dear ones and break into tears uncontrollably. But soon they would realize that the body is not of their dear ones. When they discover that it is not their dear departed their cry would become even the more uncontrollable!!!

What a tragedy! Tragedy of being able to identify the charred body, tragedy of not being able to identify the charred body and the tragedy of a shameful relief that there is no need to identify!!! Yes, as my friend said, “A terrible tragedy,” where “all is well” with me and “all friends are fine” and the film show has not been cancelled.

25 May 2010

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