Line of Fear
drove through Hyde Park, I could not help smiling to myself--
finally after what seemed to be months of dismal cold and
grey weather, we were being blessed with a burst of glorious
sunshine. People were thronging to the parks and cafes just
to sit and bask in the warmth of the rather elusive sun.
What a wonderful feeling it was to be alive and well.
only then, that a flash of bright yellow caught my attention
and made me slow down to try and read the sign that looked
so out of place sitting amongst the beautiful greenery.
It was by the local police and said something along the
lines of, "Can You Help? Woman sexually assaulted in
Hyde Park on the evening of…." It was like being
doused with a bucket of cold water. No matter how hard we
try, we just cannot block out the reality that is around
us. Assault, rape, theft, kidnapping and murder have become
part and parcel of our day to day lives. Pick up any newspaper
or listen to the news and what are we bombarded by? Visions
of mayhem in war ridden countries or reports of all kinds
of violent crimes being committed for reasons incomprehensible
to most of us, are now a regular feature in our homes. Nowadays
it is the depravity of a crime or the unusualness of it
that grabs our attention which otherwise is very likely
to escape our notice.
sign in the park is not the first one I have come across
in the last few weeks. In fact it is one of many. A couple
of weeks ago, there was a sign reporting an attempted abduction
of a teenage girl. This was only a few roads away from our
house. When you have children of your own, reports of this
sort are terrifying. Then again a few days after that while
I was driving my daughters to school, I drove passed a street
where I noticed a woman lying spread-eagled on the ground
with what seemed like shopping bags splayed all around her.
A few people were standing on the pavement watching while
another woman was bending over the victim checking for signs
of life. The shake of her head gave me all the information
I needed. Part of me wanted to stop and give whatever help
I could but one look at my children in the back of the car
made me take the selfish decision whereby I did not want
them to witness the gruesome scene for themselves.
in the day when I went to collect the children, the road
had been cordoned off and subsequently another one of these
yellow signs had been put up to try and get people to come
forward and give any information they could. I could not
get the image of the woman lying on the ground out of my
head and finally decided to call the police up to see if
I could be of any assistance. According to the time of death,
it looked like I had passed the accident scene only minutes
after it had occurred. From what the police told me, it
transpired that it had been a hit and run case. No eye witnesses
had come forward and the car that had been involved in the
accident had not been traced. For days afterwards, I saw
flowers placed near the scene of the crime to pay respect
to the poor woman whose life had been taken on that fateful
morning and one more crime that is still unresolved.
sad thing is that two days ago while I was on yet another
school run, this time to pick up my son, I was privy to
one more crime scene. As I drove near his school, I was
perplexed by the number of photographers and cameramen standing
around. Then I noticed the road had been sectioned off by
the police and as there was a traffic jam building up, the
only sensible thing to do was to pick up my son and make
my way home.
next morning the yellow sign that is becoming a familiar
part of the London scenery was propped up near my son's
school stating that a brutal murder had been committed,
and the police were once again looking for any information
they could obtain. According to the newspaper, a 67 year
old man had been chased down the street by a 37 year old
man and bludgeoned to death in broad daylight with an axe.
An eye witness had said that he had seen the victim lying
on the ground with a bloody pulp where his head should have
been. Others stated that despite some people trying to get
the perpetrator of the murder to stop, he carried on hitting
the man until his head "turned to mush". The suspect
had then given himself up on the arrival of the police.
As I read the description of the murder, all I could do
is sit in disbelief. This had happened just down the road
from my son's school.
we naively believe that these horrors happen in movies or
"to other people", but in reality it is happening
all around us. It doesn't matter whether you live in Dhaka,
London or New York, whether you live in the most exclusive
area in town or in a slum area; these types of crimes are
occurring and will continue to occur. There are atrocities
being committed every day, everywhere in the name of religion,
honour, love and who knows what else. Despite man being
"God's greatest creation" where we have managed
to demonstrate the utmost compassion for our fellow beings,
we also have a streak in us whereby we have the ability
to show an utter lack of respect for the value of another
human life. I wonder whether we are gradually becoming acclimatised
to the continuous images of violence via the media, movies
computer games etc. and I worry whether one day we will
end up so desensitised to bloodshed and brutality that crimes
like these will not make us balk even for a second before
we carry on with our daily routine. For the sake of humanity
I dearly hope not.
continue my drive through the park, in spite of the sun
still shining brightly outside and bathing my surroundings
in its warmth, somehow those few words on the yellow board
have managed to spread a chill over me.
(R) thedailystar.net 2005