Friday, August 11, 2006

Spirit or helplessness?

Just outside my house near a busy road in Bangalore are a set of saplings that were planted by the BDA (Bangalore Delayed Development Authority) almost a year ago. Those saplings were first provided with tree guards, made of, ironically, wood - but thats besides the point. The place is rampant with construction workers dwellings, which as you can imagine, do not have electricity. So, as you rightly guessed, slowly, but surely, part by part the tree guards were taken off for burning (I presume). The saplings were left unguarded and as humans would have it, they plucked a leaf each time they crossed the road or pulled the leaf or branch along as they crossed the road leading to the progressive loss of leaves and branches. This happened to not just one tree but to all trees save those in front of a few responsible apartments/business establishments.

Those trees, left to themselves or as you can see in front of the establishments, would have grown to about 10 feet in height today (the ones that are protected by some apartments are a testimony to that) after about a year and a half. But, they were either left unguarded or left for vandals to pluck leading them to their present state. The trees are about half a feet high today and stunted, like a cruel form of bonsai. They continue to grow, a leaf here and a leaf there waiting to be plucked once they reach a particular height. (At this point, those who cross the road do not pluck them since they have to bend to reach). Is this the spirit of the sapling or its helplessness?

This post is a little dated and really should have come in a few days after Mumbai's terrible terror blasts. Yesterday was the day of the verdict of the 1993 blasts, the first of the lot. Mumbai is a city where I spent a long time of my life and still have family and good friends, but that apart, I strongly appreciate the city and its ethics. For those who read this post, it will be a reminder at a time when the blasts seem to have been pushed away from top of the mind recall. Just after the blast that took a toll of about a 186 hardoworking Mumbaikars, there were a lot of reports on the indomitable spirit of the city. How people came forward to help, how trains were back the next day and how people returned to their work the very next day and even the stock market surged ahead. There were a few sane authors who wrote, very rightly, that the former are confused between spirit and helplessness and it is actually the latter, the helplessness of having to survive - the helplessness that the state (country) has reduced us to that we continue to, like the plant, move on, because we have no choice. (Note that I dont comment on the great of the city rushing to the help of its citizens - if only the state did so too.)

Remember though that every leaf plucked, each attack on the sapling, city, reduces its growth by a little bit. It may not be evident today or tomorrow, but each day we dont protect our citizens, they get a little more helpless. And each day we delay or dilly dally stalking those terrorists or their enablers or supporters tacit or otherwise or their funders (I see no difference between either), we stunt ourselves. Our self confidence, our mind, our city, our country....


Venks said...

Bingo, its a fool who writes about the spirit of mumbai, I hate that term. Its only a mindless soul who turns up in office the day after hundreds of his brethern have been killed.

It not only hampers rescue, allows culprits to escape and increases confusion it also shows the monotony of a mumbaikar.

Stunted saplings, 13 years after the worst bomb attack the country has seen the courts postpone the verdict because that fool Abu Salem wants a stay. Some crazy website even published an interview with the guy glorifying his love affair with Monica Bedi. Justice has its limits. Justice as it is today is a process followed by weak governments and aged men, who dont have the right, authority or the guts to do what it is necessary.

Justice is not only pronounced on the criminal it should also be a detterance to all such acts. The system, in India is such that, i know for any crime i may commit i am more prone to die of natural causes than by the hand of Judiciary.

Shame on us , Shame on you India!.

Polite Indian said...

A very well written post.