Like A Candle Blown Out
Nusrat Jahan Pritom
Five-four three two one… The countdown's done. The show had started after much restless anticipation and flustered preparation. Applause all over. Fired with rhapsodies. Yet suddenly all the lights were out. The crowd lightened. The darkness gripped once again it's clutches. But, no, this time there was definitely something else to it-an apocalyptic attribute. May be there was a piercing shriek of a human somewhere as the lights went out. Somewhere far. But you couldn't tell if it was that or the sound of your own sanity falling apart; it all had a surreal tone. Things got distorted -- the darkness which previously concluded all the colours and lights, now took on the semblance of a platform where countless vague images raced unto one another intertwining their shades and contours so that if the mind had not traced such thought it would have been impossible to figure out who or what this intersection of colours meant. Unmistakably, these images were floating only in the perception of a certain person (in the crowd). Yet, unmistakably, the next person was also going through a similar melange of dreams protracting out of a singular world of imaginations that becomes unrestrained at particular moments like this. But then again why the hell would anybody waste his time thinking over such absurd matters? Especially in this infinitesimal moment all of which had been sucked out by the pressure of the darkness? One has to come out of it, but can't.
Suddenly a faint hush-hush was felt that was gradually reaching a crescendo. It was almost relieving. That penetrated the silence which had ruled only a of a second ago -- that released one from the grip of intense darkness. And it was the same sense that alarmed the next calamity that was to change all of it. An inferno. Out of the darkness into the glaring fire not so far. The cold sweat of the night air jerked away only to be replaced by an unwelcome heat that made it through despite the crowd. The stream of voices had become yells of pain, agonising the listener, as if eachful painful scream could snatch away the soul any moment. The mind started to race, the heart felt like it wanted to come out of the throat. A faint, crude comparison assaulted the mind about this whole absolute debacle. You know, it's like watching TV. One moment you are staring at nothing apart from a dead screen, and the next instant you are captivated by this resplendent combination of colours swirling around wildly. Here, the case was that of the flame, the terrified bodies, all impatiently knocking against each otherin an attempt to escape. A nasty twist of affairs one of sheer irony and vitriol: the mass who had come together -- this innocuous (political) fraternity to celebrate the arrival of former PM of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto --- had led to fratricide. People enslaved by the circumstances could not run away because they were surrounded largely by their people (PPP followers) captivated by their own untenable company.
Benazir's homecoming turns into a horror story.
Then another blast was heard -- this time louder. Nearer. Piercing the ears, tearing the flesh, incinerating… And that's it. That's all under my purview (of understanding). After that is the inevitable.
Till now, you've just perceived what I've imagined. The abstraction of how it might be like to be one of those in the recent bomb-blast in Karachi, Pakistan. Thanks to the media, the news had travelled far at the pace of electricity. Lives are lost once again. The elegiac mourning would be sounded in the rustle of leaves in the smell of the air, the arrival of the wind blowing the curtains. However, it's very much a forgotten story to most who had read about it or had seen it. An irrevocable event - that happens every now and then. Which one is next in the sequence of circumstances, in which again a child would be orphaned or a wife widowed? This is something far from our preoccupations. The human life, short. So long as "we" (i.e. an individual and his/her close ones specifically) are not a part of the gruesome tale, we can plunge back into the joie de vivre that the world has in store. Humanity is limited to superficial dismay as we read the latest rape and murder cases in the morning's newspaper in between sipping tea from the cup. Then the pages are turned to sports or entertainment where the eyes become focused at smiling happy faces, greeting exuberantly. By then we have abandoned the noisome harsh realities to re-enter a non-entity of indifference and nonchalance.
However, one might allege that these are the signs of incipient unrest. Society is most given to harmony, and when troublesome, chaotic elements happen to provoke, unless it is of imminent danger, the majority instinctly overlook and sidesteps it to keep themselves away from any pugnacity, remorse or just criticisms. The absence of this conscious-raising paradox is insidiously placing the whole of society in a very vulnerable position Socrates had foretold long ago- "Knowledge is the only good. Ignorance is the only evil."
Recently they have discovered the heads of the "fundamentalist" suicide-bombers. Much analysis is being conducted as to the whereabouts, records and profiles of these people. Much interest on their personal lives will arise out of sheer curiosity. Beyond that, the minorities and as their dreams, they are seen as expendable and have nothing to do with "our" welfare. Quite cynical, but truth of this corporeal system. But exactly what would push a hungry child to the hunger of suicide only in a matter of time.... to what degree could the lust of ignorance could've scorched him... that he even could not be brought under the shade and comfort of a pure, truthful life ... I am sorry, my friends. But I find it entirely revolting. And the blame I take upon my own shoulder because I am a part of this world, but I could do nothing.
What was I doing at the time of the explosion? Could I've possibly helped in any way, in spite of the distance? And can I possibly prevent the next one? Wherever it is, by whoever, however staring into the reality is just a phase of disillusion. Like even now as you read, somewhere situations are not at all standstill but outrageously happening. Misery is taking over. May be somewhere, yet again, a candle is being blown out.
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