Thursday, November 27, 2008

Just "a story"

Some reports say 80 dead, its not the final number. There is a live encounter on the television that, like a voyeur in the drawing room, I am watching. The Mumbai blasts, yet another one. I never watch those 24 hour news channels, but today I cannot take my eyes off. One channel showed a man die in front of the camera, showed him being lifted like an animal into a car. I kept telling the cameraman, mentally, to not show those damn images, yet there I was, thinking of "the story". I felt sick, yet, I knew that was "the story". Terrorists are always a step ahead, aren't they? My country. Some young boys, they are saying, what runs through their mind? Does anything run through at all?

The things we, the media, do!

This evening, on the posh M G Road, I saw, yet again, what my country has become. Right next to my office is a supermarket. Foreigners are dime a dozen on the road. I almost don't notice a bald, fat, middle aged man. There is a little girl walking next to him, must be those pesky beggars, I assume. Wait a minute, there is something very wrong, when I see them both walk into the supermarket together. The best friend looks away, mutters 'paedophile'. My eyes stay on. A little later, the man bills a kilo of rice, a glucose packet, some snacks, two big bags. Is that the price? The little girl giggles, the fat man leans forward, I still don't turn away. Somewhere in the corner of my mind, I hate myself. I don't take a step forward.

This is not the first time. There were once three girls, one, the familiar rose girl, one lean old man. Some others. I remember books, reports I have read. I want to write these stories. For the journalist in me, the little girl would have been "a story". The very thought makes me turn away from myself.

The encounter is still on. I am still watching blood and bodies and the stories.

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