Too many people have died
Pete Seeger has grown old, Bobbie Dylan has changed, and what you thought were your tunes and words have died. But yes, too many people have also died in the meantime. You learn it from the sophomoric television that Israeli planes are dropping bombs at Gaza. Men, women, and children wiped into oblivion under the fire and the debris.
You've watched the flames rise up on the screen as the newscaster on some Indian channel switches to discuss the weather over New York sky, even when you're across the globe. Or when she invites someone who's an expert on global recession, CO2 emission, on Obama's radicalism and Chomsky's pacifism, on aardvarks, emus and intergalactic refrigerators aboard India's moon mission, someone who'll now discuss with a serious face all the implications of the UN chief Ban Ki-moon's sudden discovery: "Too many people have died." Really?
When was the first time you had watched? Oh, it had been the CNN coverage of the bombing of Baghdad in the early nineties, you and your friends played "Scud" and "Patriot" in the courtyards of crumbling colonial houses. Or simply gaped at Pranoy Roy showing his GK in World This Week as how the UN could never tolerate such an aggression on Kuwait. And now since you've grown older, you remember important events as how you watched or missed them on TV, and under what circumstances, often or not as glimpses that left without visible traces.
You had been doing a maths homework, and planning to watch Superhit Muqabila (the old crappy Channel2 TV show on Indian TV that listed the most popular movie songs), when you caught a glimpse of Russian planes bombing Chechnya. Did you, at that time, think that children of your age were getting killed in their sleep? Oh no, you had been busy playing with a toy Uzi and a model fighter plane and bombing terrorist hideouts in the backgarden.
Then time had flowed, the sun rose, moved across the sky and set, and you were reading Kundera, laughing, forgetting, and eating a crampy cheese-burger at the canteen when the twin towers crumpled. An undergrad was yelping like Tarzan as he ran across the university, spreading the news: "Hello! Everyone! Pentagon has been fucked." You returned home and watched the tragedy and all the melodrama that followed. You saw it again and again, and thought why America is hated throughout the world.
You now know the answer why.
You had heard of bombs being dropped in Afghanistan, and had rushed to the canteen where they were busy watching a cricket match. No, you couldn't switch the channel. No, not even during the advertisements when beautiful females and macho males were gulping down Pepsi, Coke, or similar toilet cleaners, and asking you to do the same. You had to wait till you could travel back to your district home, and be content with the few seconds of national television news that told you little of what happened in Afghanistan, but what every revolting politician said, shouted, screamed, winked or farted to the media during that day. (Radical flag marches, effigy-burnings of Bush followed, you melted in a universe of hot-blooded slogans, but to what effect? The killings continued, the marchers felt bored, and left)
You also know by now that 24/11 is never the direct coefficient of 9/11; just some stoopid Indian journalists pretending to be too intelligent apes after the Mumbai attacks, which some people suspect might be a covert operation of Mossad. You never know, but you know exactly why you hate these TV journalists. It's perhaps why you had stopped watching the idiot box after you had 'grown up'. Ah!
What do you feel like in 'newsless' oblivion?
The second attack on Iraq was part of shared office excitement and individual searches. Your colleagues clustered around a desktop as you together watched Saddam swinging. And you watched all the pictures of the dead Iraqi kids, shifted uncomfortably through innumerous blogs and YouTube videos posted by Iraqi bloggers who thought that they would make the world understand, and you felt like screaming. But then, time flew, and before you knew the occupation of Iraq had become so commonplace that a hundred people killed everyday ceased to be 'news'. But now, since the bombs are dropping on Gaza, what will you do? Will you sit before the TV, and switch to another comfortable channel that speaks of lifestyle? Or do another survey of blogs, videos, and podcasts, and rest content that at least you're more informed than the others?
I don't know, but gentle reader, once again, let me wish you all my scorn and hatred for all the military-industrial empires of the world. And for all who've died in Gaza, it will be very easy to say in the glib way of those like us who can lead uninterrupted placid lives far from their pain that the oblivion they suffer would be a fate worse than death. But no fate is worse than being roasted alive, believe me.