Chicago Blues

This blog is an online repertoire of my columns that run in the Indian Express, North American edition. Here I rave and rant about life, mostly as seen from the large vistas of my little world.

Location: Chicago, United States

Monday, January 14, 2008

Another Year to Live

With all the manner of hurrah and ho-ho-ho filled New Year wishes streaming in, I must say I’m sorry, for what I’m thinking through isn’t exactly as thrilling, and may even screech-stop the music to the whole dandy-bandy. I am rather annoyed with the cheery all’s-fine-and-dandy-with-the-world-and-God’s-in-His-heaven messages I’m being bludgeoned with. I’ve woken up every so often in these past few months completely overwhelmed, emotionally sapped, and sporadically even fearing the worst, as more people are killed and more injustice is meted out to thousands of innocents for nothing. While it is hardly possible to overlook the recurrent flak over Iraq, and more recently, the horror of Bhutto’s slaying, several ordinary, middle-class Indians living here have been killed or dealt atrocities for no reason or rhyme.

So, grim as it may seem, as another New Year dawns and the norm of making resolutions is carried duly out, one wonders if the phrase “goodness and peace for all,” has merely been relegated to the books and the occasional greeting cards. Is a sectarian ideology better than cosmopolitanism, and irrespective of either, can we ever really stick together as one, for the sake of humanity, not partisanship defined by absurd precincts? In what can be best described as a near-peace-deprived society, do the Virginia Tech shootings that left several innocent students, including some Indians, dead; the Louisiana State University killings that took the lives of two Indian doctoral students; suicide and homicide attempts by Indians across the US…mean that we are living in a senseless one too?

Closer home, there have been three ghastly incidents involving Indians lately. In August last year, 32-year Nimisha Tiwari, set her house on fire killing herself and her two children in suburban Chicago. Reports claim that her troubled marriage was the cause of this dreadful act. In November, 34-year old Kaushik Patel of suburban Chicago doused his two young sons with gasoline and set them ablaze. He later drove them to a relative’s house in his car, and the episode has been described as a blotched suicide attempt involving him and the children. The three are said to be in critical condition, and while reports say that Patel is likely to be in the hospital for weeks, if not months, the children remain in drug-induced comas.

As if this isn’t enough to choke you, a third such case in five months has cropped up. In all these cases, fire is a common factor, as is the cause - domestic dispute, involving Indian families in the Chicago area. This one has particularly left me numb and utterly irate - 57 year old Subhash Chander of Chicago brutally burned his pregnant daughter, her husband, and their three-year-old son to death, because he apparently disliked his son-in-law, who belonged to a “lower caste.” While the man is believed to have his own contorted take on the case, nothing he or his relatives say can possibly heal the situation. Not only has he ruthlessly slain his own daughter and her family, including her unborn child, the psychopath has left several people in the apartment complex homeless, but mercifully, alive.

In another stray incident, non-violent, but baffling all the same - 24-year old Anu Solanki from, yet again - Chicago, went missing recently, causing considerable alarm and costing the investigation nearly $250,000. She has since resurfaced and had apparently taken off with a male friend, deserting her husband. Latest news on her case is that she may not be charged with a crime, but the question that still remains unanswered is whether or not the county will attempt to recover the money.

The blow in all these and any violent incident anywhere else comes not from the number of people killed, but from the fact that as humans, we can embrace the culture, the attitude, or the need to destroy every shred of peace in the world and take lives. So while we usher in another year amid this dire, reprehensible state of affairs, I think it is time we made serious efforts to create for ourselves an inner state of harmony and calm, which will radiate into our environs to produce a credible balance. While it may not be a bad idea to get in touch with our roots, and appreciate our mores, and stick with each other as modest NRIs in this faraway land, the exigency of the situation calls for something that is more significant than that. It is something that is as indigenous as is universal - to come together for humanity, to heal the world.

Perhaps it’s time to put the music back on track - something that will reverberate as the music of the spheres in all generations among us, beginning with the “Vaishnava Janato,” fanatics, to the Gen-X-ers, who should delve into the meaning of the more recently popularized “Mool Mantar,” from the movie Rang De Basanti, before blasting it on their I-pods.

Here’s to a New Year filled with compassionate deeds, equitable justice and inner peace to all.


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