A month back on 22nd June, 2014, I frantically watched the news flash blood soaked images of my father. The scrolls reading-“A Thief had attacked a Scientist, in a communally charged area, in Charminar. The DRDO Regional Director stabbed, while trying to nab a pickpocket, running away with a colleague’s mobile”
He walked valiantly into the Police Station, grabbing onto his cuts- blood oozing out like water from a fountain. He told the Police who he was, called up Mother to say he was fine and fainted.
48 Stitches, 46cms long and 5cms wide a cut, nearly missing the spleen and vitals.
Had it hit? I don’t even want to imagine that! Lying on the hospital sofa for 10 days and more, I wondered…
He was to board the next day early morning flight back home. 23rd June was their Marriage Anniversary. But here sat my Mom receiving flowers from an ocean of visitors. Yes. Get well soon. Doctors cluttered to ‘personally’ talk to the man who was all over the Newspapers. Political parties turned up to offer their ‘apologies’. Colleagues across the country, from almost the entire DRDO spectrum, were a pillar of strength that even family couldn’t provide. Unknown people walked in to get a glimpse of The Man.
Here lay a HERO. My Fighter Father.
I listened to him narrate to the visitors. Some considered him impractical and quixotic, risking his life for a mere theft, and that even of a colleague. Some considered him selfless and unconditionally brave.
Couple of Muslim representatives visited to apologize. They had met the convict, a “17” year old Muslim boy, in the juvenile home. He had asked them to convey his Sorry to my father- or so did they say. It struck me then that we had completely forgotten about the boy.
He was a Muslim, so what? We didn’t have any anger against him, neither against a religion that was being made a casualty like truth. He was a victim as well- of poverty, of ignorance and of society’s indifference to humanity and compassion. Why was it being viewed from a communal angle, I really couldn’t comprehend. The thief was Muslim, but so were most of the Nurses who took care of Daddy, just like his daughters. And so were many empathetic sympathizers.
This was his 4th such crime. He had been caught by the Police earlier as well and put in the juvenile home. Did it reform him in any miniscule manner?
He was fed and clothed and sheltered there and sent back with a license- to steal, rape, kill, whatever? Oh! He was a juvenile after all!
Criminals do not make society neither society consists of criminals, society breeds criminals- rues my father. Physical pain will subside. Pain is a part of life, a symbol of life, a manifestation of life- he says. But how to alleviate the mental trauma of watching the humans lose their humanity? How can such an incident happen in broad day light, in a crowded area like Central Charminar, well dotted by policemen? Why did the locals, who helped nab the culprit, let him walk off after he stabbed my father? Why should a profusely bleeding person, who pleaded with the police to take him to the hospital, take an hour to get first aid in a city like Hyderabad? Will the system ever improve? Did the incident make any impact for the better?
A thought to be spared also was, had not my Father been in the privileged position that he was, would justice still have been delivered? Or would he have bled to death in a Police Station, trying to file an FIR?
A month after the painful experience, most of this story has been forgotten by most. But some of it would certainly be remembered. That, there are still such foolish, impractical and unnecessarily brave people left in this world, who make us pause and introspect what we are and what we should be.
The helplessness continues unabated. Questions wail and queue up to be answered- if ever.
Wryder: Pamela Satpathy, do follow her blogs here.