We, bloggers, write mostly when the dust has settled and the blood has dried on the sleeves.
The news-channels go into their habitual mode of manic over-drive to televise "breaking news" of blood being spilled and flesh being ripped "while they actually happen".
Our leaders call for "restraint" in "such times of crisis".
Police officials promise "prompt action" and "return to order".
Conflicting claims owning responsibility for the strikes surface.
And we rue the sorry state of our country while warming the sofas of our bedaubed drawing-rooms, letting out that occasional sigh of resigned helplessness over a cup of luke-warm tea before moving onto some other channel with brighter things on offer.
Days pass and we forget.
And that is precisely the most terrible curse that an overpopulated nation like ours face
- The Curse of Collective Forgetfulness. And the value of human life becomes gradually more trivialised.
While Mumbai turns into a veritable battlefield and people all over the nation are left wondering "where next?" a grotesque spectacle of terrorism unfolds before our very eyes.
No more RDX, no more detonations from a distance. Their war has now decidedly come down to "hand to hand combat". But, how can "terror" gain visibility if only the security forces are engaged. How can it strike fear and further its "noble cause" if the corpses don't pile up on the streets. No act of terror is complete without few innocents getting slaughtered, and so we have the count pegged at 100 and till reports last came in they were still counting. This time the casualties have nothing in common between them. Some were inside plush hotels, some on roads earning their daily wages, some in taxis and some waiting on railway platforms. The purveyors of death have made their disregard for social strata apparent with their bloody statement.
" No class. No mercy. "
And we have taken note.
As NSG commandos storm their posts, bringing them down one by one, and defense analysts join the political bandwagon in dissecting their 'modus operandi' and 'objectives', it is time that we, as a nation wake up to the realization that its about time that our leaders put "petty politics" behind them to avenge this resounding slap on the face of our continued policy of tolerance. It does not matter if "they" were Hindus or Muslims, Deccan Mujahideens or Kashmiri Fidayeens; it does not matter if there was the usual "foreign hand" behind these attacks or something entirely indigenously orchestrated. Fire can only be fought with fire and there are no two ways about it.
Too many lives have been lost already and someone must sound the bugle now. If not, popular outrage might soon consume the last vestiges of whatever is considered 'civil' in our society and a protracted reign of violent vigilantism might soon ensue. Unlike the political and military posturing in the wake of the '2001 Parliament Attack' concrete action is the call of the hour. An Advani or a Gandhi visiting the blast-sites when the muzzles have all gone cold is not good enough now. If they want to send a message to the millions that they need not panic in their homes, that must show in their work, not words. It is needless to say that every Indian city now awaits its turn in the terror turn-table with bated breath, that every ordinary citizen now stations himself in a crowded market-place relying more on faith than the "IB information" that is always over-looked before the blasts and highlighted only after they occur unhindered. I admit that it is very convenient to play the blame-game sitting in the comfort of one's study, reading news-portals and venting righteous ire but these are only cultured reflections of the emotions of an exasperated majority, who, if given a chance, would put it with much more vehemence and scorn.
It will be inappropriate right now to speculate on the possible political stances that might emerge in the coming days, ones which might already be underway in the corridors of power, but any more "politicising of terror" at the expense of innocent lives and we will have a "bigger, graver situation" on our hands. Soon.
Then, mere 'storming the gates' might not be of much help.