THAT SHAMBHU LAL... AND THESE CANDLES IN THE WIND








Meghal, my niece, who is in first-year degree-college in Mangalore, called me this morning. “Uncle, I need a small favor from you,” she said, “Can you give me some catchy relevant message for a placard… We have a college event coming up.”

My niece, like young kids around her, knows what is ‘relevant’ to our times and what is not relevant. They all are capable of forming their own opinions. So, I said, “Dear, do you have any ideas floating across your mind?”

“Yes uncle… like ‘Save the Tiger’ ‘Save the Enviornment’, “Women Empowerment’ etc,” she said.

“What about some issues which are ‘immediate’?” I asked.

My niece started thinking!

“Alright dear,” I comforted my young niece, “Don’t get stressed out… You will get it by evening today.”

What is the immediate social-cause demanding our attention, today? Tiger, stray dogs, oppression against women, senior citizens, child abuse and environment… yes, all these do demand our immediate attention. But, the one issue that has been ‘disturbing’ me for quite some time – and particularly since yesterday – is the mindset of hatred against other religious communities ‘some of us’ don.

Did I say ‘some of us’?

Shambhu Lal’s video in which he chops, burns a Muslim man and rants against ‘Love Jihad’ – whatever that is – is an act of insanity. It is shocking and numbing! It is difficult to believe a human being can carry out such a cold-blooded act in the name of religion and God. If religion or God sanctify such an act, then, only the Demon has to save us!





But, let me tell you this: What Shambhu Lal has done in such a gory manner, many around us do – from dawn to dusk – against each other’s religions… Hatred and poison spill from their words… Some of these men and women are highly educated and well-placed in life. But, I wonder: Why rant in public? Why show your hatred so insensitively?

In every walk of life – religious faith included – there always have been ‘fringe elements’… call them ‘extremists’ of ‘terrorists’. But, have not all these fringe elements started off with the same mindset – that of intense hatred and venom?

So, in a way, Shambhu Lal’s insanity doesn’t shock me at all. I do not think, he has been educated, brought up and placed in life the way many of us have been. It’s, therefore, can be classified as an act of ‘ignorant, misguided and radicalized’ young man…

God forgive him for he did not know what he was doing!

For saying this, I know, I will be crucified!

My wife and sixteen other ladies from our housing society have left for a three-day tour to Ganpatiphule. She is the only non-Hindu lady in the group. The itinerary includes visits to many temples… “Pray for me darling,” I tickled her, early this morning, as she left home for ‘the ladies- days-out’!

Her younger brother, Melvin, married, some fifteen years ago, his sweetheart, Amrita, a Brahmin, hailing from one of the most-educated, well-informed and cultured Maharashtrian families I have known. They are blissfully settled in the US for all these years, with amazing two young-kids.

My own youngest-brother, Vivek, married his heartthrob, Hemangi, who hailed from a Maharashtrian business-family, two decades ago. They have two wonderful kids…

And beauty is this: Nobody reminded - leave alone 'warned' - them or any of our family members about ‘Love Jihad’… Nobody from Hindu community was worried, that their women would be ‘converted’… Now, their kids are grown up… and, they know what is right and what is wrong. Soon, a time will come for them to pick their life-partners, just the way their parents did…

And, the beauty is: Nobody is worried!

We have only one son. Let him marry whoever he loves, respects and honors. Let not his parents or relatives – leave alone the Society – come in between their decision to do so!

“I did not know I was a Jew till Hitler made me think so!” These were the painful words of a Holocaust survivor…

How relevant they are today!

From dawn to dusk, we are reminded about our religious, national, cultural, gender, social-class-and-caste-related ‘identities’... We are incessantly reminded to be ‘proud’ about them…

Perhaps, the only reminder we need is: ‘Be human… Be loving… Be good’!

Is there any other religion or ‘identity’ other than this?  Is there any other worship? Any other God?

This planet, we live upon, is a tiny speck of dust in God’s colossal scheme of things. We think too much of ourselves… too much. The worst, the Shambhu Lal in us thinks, that we are ‘God’s chosen ones’… who have been sent on this planet – this speck of dust – to ‘save our God’!

So, Meghal, my dearest niece, how about this Placard:

‘GOD, HAVE MERCY ON US… THESE CANDLES IN THE WIND’?


GERALD D’CUNHA


Pic.: Anil Bedi
Video: India Today/YouTube

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