Do you remember 16?

At 16,

Wondering what I was going to be,

If any of the growing up was still left to do.

Trying to have my own love story,

Which I did,

When all Kumar Sanu numbers made sense.

At sixteen being the rebel that I think I was,

To what end,

I have no clue.

At sixteen when the new boy in the neighborhood gave me a rush,

And made me talk about him,

Albeit in a hushed voice.

When your brother at sixteen smells of hair setting gel and too much deodorant.

When your next door girl is too young to be wearing so much make up,

According to you though.

When you are worried to death if your son gets into an engineering college next year.

When you keep your eyes on the road,

Your ears on the door,

Dinner’s cold.

Oh when will he be home?

At sixteen,

When you hold your brother’s bloodied face,

Rest him on his lap,

And watch him close his eyes forever.

I am sorry we have failed you as humans,

My brother.

Can we relate?

I have two brothers. And I love them to the moon and back. Siblings are a whole another lot of blessings that everyday, I feel I ought to be thankful for. To my own destiny at having them in my life.

So the first thought I have when I read about the lynching of a 16 year old boy by a mob is that he’s as young as my youngest brother was, a few years ago. And I realise I don’t actually remember what sixteen felt like.

And we are not horrified by the fact that someone can be beaten to death. Of all the ways a person dies, I believe this has to be amongst what we refer to as outrage worthy.

Every blow falls on your body with a vengeance that is unfounded. Every kick making you twist and turn, making you beg for your life. Blow by blow the will to survive leaves the body- a body covered in blood. 

Why do we hate them so much?

Nobody is saying this aloud yet, but the appeasement of these forces that have the confidence of taking someone’s life is only growing day by day. A few weeks ago seven men were lynched in Jamshedpur alone over rumors of them being child abductors. And these were baseless rumors. But the perpetrators got away with being a part of the riotous mob. 
And this is followed by the lynching of a sixteen years old innocent boy who had gone shopping for Eid and does not raise eyebrows yet.

Murder has become the new normal.

The absence of outrage is striking, though not surprising because the victim is Muslim. Gradually, we have grown more intolerant towards the community and it is not something to be kept under wraps. We don’t say this aloud yet but it is in the air: with beef eating considered to be synonymous with the community while we conveniently ignore the fact that beef is sometimes the only affordable source of protein to people on the lowly rungs of society- those that we’ve ourselves created settlements outside our residential premises for.

When do we know this is too much?

That one murder is more than enough to punish the perpetrators and appeasers? 

A boy, guessing by his age, a high school student perhaps, or the high school equivalent of your own brother, your own son is killed in broad daylight in front of people occupying the compartment of a fucking train. A boy is killed for protesting provocation. Just like the boy who is killed for protesting against men harrassing his sister. Just like the boy who was shot because he didn’t give way to the vehicle behind him. Just like the boy who was shot for trying to save his businessman father in an assassination attempt.

Boys who had their lives ahead. 

Victim’s brother recounts ghastly incident

Have we failed as a society by refusing to raise our voice in their support? 

I want to know how these people sleep at night- the ones instigating others to kill someone because they are offended, the ones deciding to kill someone to death.

Reason rests where it’s louder.And not where it’s dead.

Magnet

We are unsure,

If there ought to be an outrage,

At murder by the masses.

And why is that so?

Maybe because we want somebody to point our fingers at and scream:

DEATH TO HIM!

And because the mob,

Might have one of our own.

And let’s not be blown away be emotions yet.

An eyebrow raised,

You pick up on the news.

Oh, just some man beaten to death by the crowd.

You assume, that between one and many,

Reason rests where it’s louder.

And not where it’s dead.

We are unsure,

If one murder is one too many.

Aren’t we doomed as well?

Our own houses are not on fire.

On our chariots led around by horses high on ego,

We attract offense like magnets

It sticks to our skin and clings like a pin on its head trying to balance the act.
We, flushed in our sweltering self worth,

Cry out loud and are joined by the crowd.

Like magnets.