A year back. On the day the history of India’s future acquired a custom chapter on international terrorism, something else happened as well. Something with just as much promise. Something that’s been on trial ever since. BigFishMag spawned.
What you’ll read below is among the first articles written for the mag and also the first victim of our slothful procrastination. Delay of whole months deemed the article unsuitable for immediate usage only to return for its first anniversary. Here’s what my first reaction to the incident was; flippantly named…
Surprise and Surmise
The day, it seemed, was planning to end itself. There had been no indications since afternoon that national history, foreign policy, the country’s population and the television comedy shows were to undergo an inflection shortly. It did happen, however, like it always does the world over…’’we are being attacked by terrorists’’. I wasn’t moved. I didn’t feel a thing.
Swayed by past headlines with keywords like ‘seven’,’ high-intensity’ and most importantly ‘bomb blasts’, I was unimpressed by the ‘firing’ on ‘unarmed commuters’. Delayed by this incapability, by the time the point struck home ‘the attacks’ had already become ‘reality TV’. I was late at being awestruck.
There was a fascination I witnessed surrounding the attacks and not all of it rooted itself in concern for human life. The fascination was one that transfixes a gaze to motion pictures, where you attempt to surmise what happens next, you believe you know the characters and you know you can take sides. All the while being unaffected and not affecting the macabre events on the screen of concern. I believe there’s nothing wrong with that. Terrorists, after all, are fascinating.
Fascination stems in the malignant motivation they display to realize their ultimate aim - to terrorize. Fascinating are the people who make a terrorist. With the oratory they wield, they violate someone out of his life and into the occupation of terrorism. In the life of just one terrorist and all the events that he’ll be remembered for, the most prolific individual always happens to be his enviably efficient spiritual motivator cum military trainer. The dismissive explanation involving misdirected youth and mind-altering religious jargon does hold true very often but the capability to transform a wasted existence to a driven achievement is where the fascinating stories lie.
The existence of such people with a command over others’ lives many find alluring especially as they seem so disjunctively evil. Abounding cinema on terrorism bears testament to this romance. I was under the perception that the city has been visited by such highly motivated, driven, religious individuals…ohhh boy…I was wrong.
A terrorist just need speak and he’ll be heard...but they never did. Had there been demands, had there been any attempt to justify the killings, a martyr’s plea for equality to ‘the oppressed minority’ they would fit the mould of an ideal terrorist for a cause. Romantics, eclectics, artists, authors, me would be pleased secretly but… Mumbai wasn’t being attacked by such.
They travelled all the way armed with loaded automatic weaponry and GPS. They travelled on land and through water. ‘God’ could have spoken to them anytime during their ‘motivated transit’ and they might have returned; bullets in their shells. God just wasn’t aware of the terror plot he was being offered. They were just contract killers and cheap ones at that. One and a half lakh rupees and a Kashmiri girl (beautiful, as a rule) to marry was what they were being offered. Money and women, even their pursuits were no better than us. I was appalled on seeing past the terror drill. Mumbai deserves better terrorists.
The truth about our touring ‘would be-celebrities ‘started appearing just as the bullets stopped leaving home. Conspiracy theories followed. Accusations and counter accusations were made. The police, the NSG, the government were lauded and battered in turn with speeches and circumstantial evidence. I know just what was broadcast and printed so I shall not expend myself in redundancies.
The ‘terror victim mascot’ on television happened to be the brother of a person killed at ‘The Taj’, crying to the police on every channel to let him know his brother’s still alive. It didn’t happen, he was dead. Joseph Stalin believed ‘A single death is a tragedy, a million statistics’. I remember this man’s ‘tragedy’. I remember him calling out to ‘Allah’ standing there representing a ‘truly oppressed minority’. A sardonic irony.