I’m back to thinking some more about the people I love to hate, despite the fact that some of my trusted colleagues and acquaintances come from them. Let’s see – I got two more pet peeves.
How was your Diwali? And the weeks leading up to Diwali itself? Mine was noisy and smoke-filled. Guess who did I have to thank for that? I did not see a single person – not one – who was not a member of this community bursting crackers and flares.
Another eccentricity of these people is their penchant for eating off food-carts. Every day I walk home from the train station, I pass a 500 metre stretch of S. V. Road taken over by food-carts and converted into a food court. I mean, WTF? If you love eating out, as in eating food that is not home-cooked, then go to a restaurant or a fast-food joint. There is no need to patronize the hawkers right out on the road, people!
Another thing that baffles me about Gujaratis is the almost fanatical trust they have placed in Modi. FOSS and GNU/Linux geeks are (traditionally) politically liberal – you wouldn’t expect one of us to support a guy like Modi. But apparently, I was wrong. Even my afore-mentioned colleagues are die-hard Modi supporters.
To be honest, before Godhra, the only black spot I had seen was his continued support to the Sardar Sarovar Project. Even that was not as much an issue against Modi as against the Gujarat government – all governments before him, irrespective of political hues, had supported the project. I remember a weekly news magazine had published a special report in January 2002 about how Modi was effectively bringing Gujarat back on its feet an year after the Bhuj earthquake. And I agreed – here was one superb administrator – it seemed as if he was trained by Kautilya himself.
Then dawned the 27th day of February, 2002. A crime was committed against humanity that day. Those who gave its victims the shroud of religious indignation also gave the criminals the armor of religious persecution. A crime for which retribution could have realized within the limits of law and order was turned over to the “public court”. And there lay Modi’s mistake.
Nobody wanted those savages to go free. Hindu, Muslim, atheist, secularist – everyone was rooting for vengeance. Kay said it best in Men in Black:
A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.
To this animal was handed the baton of justice, vengeance and vigilance. This animal was told of an enemy so potent he could strike even in the heart of the Hindu Desh. An enemy so dangerous he was omnipresent, yet invisible. An enemy where there was none; for criminals are an organic part of society. A cancerous tumor is not your enemy, but you don’t keep it in your body longer than necessary.
What happened in the next few months is not something Gujaratis should ever be proud of.
Modi has moved on. Gujarat has moved on. Except for the feeling of dreaded karma catching up in the future, there is not much left of those months when humanity deserted the land of many of its greatest sons. Even vigilantes keeping an eye on Modi have found nothing to fault him with. Vigilance is the price of freedom.
I think it is time we expect both sides of this conflict to forgive. Not forget; because if they forget, then history will repeat itself.
In the meanwhile, we all have a future to make.