THIS TIME IT WAS IN A TEMPLE
Something really ugly happened once again in my country. Religion, the barb of the devil once more hit hard. Eight kilometres away from the kathua’s Rasana village, there now lies a five-foot long grave of an eight year olds raped and damaged body. Reports say that the Rasana Hindus did not allow the burial pit to be dug in their village saying that the property belonged to them. So in spite of the winter cold of January, the girl’s father had to carry her body uphill to Kanah village to find place for its burial.
As my nation once again grieves such an inhuman act which often arises out of illogical and senseless beliefs and of course colossal greed, I sit and stare at several messages circulating on social media. Some are expressing their solidarity with anger by keeping their display picture black and some are keeping it purple as a memory of the film ‘Color Purple’ which accordingly represented women abused by men. Some are writing poems of grief and some are expressing anger in hate words. It all ultimately hurts deep. A question that keeps coming to my mind is, why did that little innocent girl have to suffer so much?
In 2012, it was in a moving bus, at times it had been in homes and on lonely streets but this time it was the worst. It was in a temple! The victim was a Muslim and the rapists were Hindus. The charge sheet said that she was tortured and killed to scare the community away. It was a revenge story - a story that began in disputes of land and led to vengeance, one that began with disputes of religions and found solace in hate. Hate, that went so very inward that it ruined the capacity to think right. I often wonder at how much the hater must be hurting inside. The ‘Yours and the Ours’ virus corrodes humanity and transforms healthy men and women into animals bereft of the sense of the right and the wrong. The little farm girl who hadn’t been to school to learn numbers but could count her horses, took responsibility that her family’s cattle were brought back to their farmhouse by the time the sun set in the evenings. She was a bold girl who dared to run down rocky terrains through isolated jungles to bring back the lost animals. Little did she know that there were beasts lurking around to devour her innocence, because their minds were parched and they thirsted for blood, because their faith had crossed the line of common sense, because their learning had all gotten wrong since they had been taught that their god was different from her god. Little did she know that the temple where they took her had no god in it but clay fixtures with eyes and ears drawn on them; eyes which couldn’t see her pain and ears which couldn’t hear her screams.
Oh what a pity that the devil has chosen man as his target to destroy man! What a pity that he has made weapons the human eye can’t see; weapons of aversion, lust and greed. This gruesome act of hate reminded me of the famous short story of Leo Tolstoy, ‘How Much Land Does a Man Need?’ Tolstoy had written this piece in the year 1886, expressing futility of man’s greed; and yet after more than a hundred years the story continues to try to edify the ignorant. The Devil in the story hears the tussle of man groping for more than necessary and says, “All right...... We will have a tussle. I’ll give you land enough; and by means of that land I will get you into my power.” An opportunity arises for the protagonist of purchasing a communal land but it does not find success because, “The Evil one sowed discord among them, and they could not agree.” So then the individuals buy land separately. The protagonist, finally after a lot of debt, manages to purchase land and becomes a land owner. Now, “The grass that grew and the flowers that bloomed there, seemed to him unlike any that grew elsewhere” because it was his land. But soon his peace was to be shattered because the neighbouring peasants began to trespass his fields.....the herdsmen would let the village cows stray into his meadows, then horses from the night pasture would get among his corn.” In spite of turning them out again and again they would not cease and so at last, “he lost his patience and complained to the District Court” although he knew that there was only basic need and no evil in the intent of the peasants. However, his pride and avarice made him think differently. “I cannot go on overlooking it, or they will destroy all I have. They must be taught a lesson.” Gradually scenes changed and his desires became bigger and he continued his new purchases till one day he met an owner who sold land saying, “As much as you can go round on your feet in a day is yours, and the price is one thousand roubles a day” but the condition was that, “If you don’t return on the same day to the spot whence you started, your money is lost.” While asleep with contentment about becoming a very big landowner, the protagonist dreamt of “the Devil...sitting there and chuckling, and before him lay a man barefoot, prostrate on the ground, with only trousers and a shirt on”, and when he looked better he saw that “the man was dead and it was himself!” He awoke horror-struck but brushed aside his dream, as “what things one does dream” and didn’t realize that perhaps it was the voice of his conscience trying to awaken him. Next morning he had to conquer as much land as he could on his feet. His materialism kept him going till he realized that “All my labour has gone in vain”. He lay dead on the ground with “blood flowing from his mouth”. Soon spades were picked up and a grave long enough for him to be buried was dug. “Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed”.
As the court trial goes on and the culprit’s faces flash in my face, I wonder how much land will they need when their time is done?
Pic. credits: Google