This can’t be life: A Free Writing

Kindergarteners and teachers are dead and a 23 year old med student has lost her intestines.

If India and the U.S. have anything in common, it would be a whole slew of ‘isms and schisms’ and an inability to stop violence.  They are inherently linked, some might say – the crime and the cure.  In our multi-ethnic societies class saves.  Or so we thought until working parents in Connecticut dropped off their 6 year olds in Newton for a day no one would forget.  “How could this happen here?” is the question heard on both continents, struggling to figure out just what the fuck is going on and what the hell we do now.

See, she is like me, except I’m sure she’s smarter.  She was in med school for goodness sakes.  And she did what everyone says to do in this town, ‘never go out alone. Always go with a man.’  ‘A man’ (actually I was with 2 men) didn’t stop that guy on the motorbike from grabbing my breast in the middle of Vasant Vihar, and it clearly didn’t stop a penis parade and a bus driver from raping the life out of her.  And we live in the good part of town.

There’s something about class that makes you feel safe.  Like you bought out of petty violence.  Sure, someone could kidnap your dog for a bribe or steal your car – but that’s because you have something and they don’t.  It’s about stuff in these areas, not life.  Life is what gets taken in ghettos and poor neighborhoods and slums and villages, where people get stabbed for cheating, women get acid poured on their faces for reasons unknown, where Black people sell drugs to each other for kicks.  Cash saves you from crack pipes and crackpots.  It is the bubble that insulates your life from ignorant bloodshed.

But nothing can save you from deranged men.  It is always men, isn’t it?  Men get bored too easily.  They are simple-minded creatures that always need something to keep their fingers busy so that they don’t get it into their heads to use their hands for more destructive purposes.  Don’t dare give them knitting needles though – they’ll stab your eyes out!  White men with mommy problems.  Brown men who’ve only seen naked women on web sitesBlack men who get paid to play football.  You know, I’m noticing a trend.

We ask, ‘How do we keep our kids safe if we can’t take them to school?’ Ban guns! ‘How did we keep our girls safe if they can’t take a bus?’ Ban tinted windows!

Is anybody asking that we ban men?  It is a question worth asking.  I don’t recall the last time a group of women got together and rammed a man with a metal rod that just so happened to be within arm’s reach.  Women with daddy problems become activists or prostitutes – they don’t shoot up an elementary school for fuck’s sake.  What is wrong with half of the world’s population that the rest of us have to be victims to their whims?

Do you sit down with your sons, your uncles, your brothers, your dads, your nephews and ask them who they hurt today?  Ask them if they think it’s their right to hit or harm?  Have they had desires to do things that would make someone else cry?  Well, maybe you should ask.

There are things they aren’t telling you about themselves.  And you should not permit them to lie to you or else you’ll have no explanation for the questions the reporters will ask.  They will surely come probing, ‘What was going on at home?’  How many hot chappatis were you making while he was driving a bus around town to the soundtrack of a young girl’s screams?  How many times did you let him believe that he deserved an education more so than his sister?  Or that you would arrange his marriage with a fair, homely girl, after he was 25 and had done something with himself?  Why would you even think this is a good idea? Well, because he deserves the best.  This is what he is entitled to: a woman.  A prize on the backs of so many other female sacrifices.

Who would want to be the mother of a rapist?  The father of a baby killer?  Do you think they ever thought that it would be their kid that would go out at night – or in the middle of the day, for that matter – and dash the life out of somebody else’s baby?  Oh, and she’s not dead yet – for the record.  But what kind of life is there to live after that?

She was your Emilie once.  She liked glitter and pink too.  But she made it past the age of 6, past the age when many Indian children die of preventable diseases like dysentery.  She made it past infanticide and the abandonment of girl children.  She made it to medical school.  She made it to the movie theatre.  She made it to the bus stop.  But she never made it home.

I’d like to blame the NRA, and Sheila Dixit, and the private bus companies.  I’d like to blame Satan, the manufacturer of metal products, and those who took chastity belts off the market.  I’d like to blame people who told us we didn’t need metal detectors in kindergarten, and those of you who don’t send your children to school with Kevlar vests.  I’d like to blame you all, in addition to the perpetraters.  And I’d also like to note that proposing that religion in schools is a way to fix things is just about the fucking dumbest idea I heard since someone blamed rape on blue jeans.

Give me a damn break.

There are protesters in New Delhi.  And there are mourners in Newton.  There are dead hopes and dreams, and there is resignation.  We do not have answers.  The investigations will be a farce.  We will debate the future of two nations – but we don’t know what we want.  India wants to be modern, but can’t handle having women going outside after 7pm.  And America wants to be inclusive, but it hasn’t yet found a place for all the mentally insane people walking around.  All the things we want to be, all that we aspire to become, are illusions.  We are what we are.  We are what we have always been: a violent, murderous, deceitful bunch.  A people with no sense of the future, and a predatory present.  You don’t survive this hell to make it to heaven, quite the contrary.  You must die here – really die here.  Quit fighting, be an innocent 6 year old and let the Lord Shiva take you.  Be a brilliant young woman with your whole life ahead of you, and let them pull the umbilical chord of the children you can no longer have.

We are a world of martyrs and executioners, and you can’t buy that off.  Who do you bribe – or in the case of my countrymen, pay your taxes to – in order to afford protection from your neighbors in your safe neighborhoods?  So, we need militias in Munirka is it?  People in Newton ought to give their teachers nines, huh?  There is no police force.  There is no army.  There is no people’s coalition strange enough and strong enough to protect us from the will of the deranged – a guy with an idea.

A guy with an idea has no price.  He can’t be deterred, only momentarily distracted.  He can’t be told how much your dad makes in lakh rupees.  He can’t be concerned that you are only 6 years old.  He is the unmoveable.  He is unshakeable.  He is the God of small things, just as you are if you consider the ant under your foot as a small, very small thing.  A woman is a small thing.  A child is a small thing.  Ants and insects and people who only count for target practice for those feverish for feigned power.

Please have some Kool-Aid, my friends of two far away continents.  What brings us together in tragedy, is the end of something that was worthy of this place.  When even survivors are victims, who make a mockery of the tragedy and become assailants in their own right, what do we do next?  Should we party in Mumbai for New Year’s Eve?

What exactly do we have to celebrate?

The Mayans were right.  Something died this year.  Humanity died this year.  Something that we used to have that made us creatures worthy of this earth is no more.  We have lost our redeeming qualities.  We have reached the pinnacle and the shit is going down hill, folks.

On an abandoned dingy in the middle of the ocean, we are supposed to drown.  You are not Richard Parker.  You are the French cook – and you eat people! YOU EAT PEOPLE!  We are not meant to survive.

(I love you mom & dad!)

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