February 19th, 2019

Cry, the beloved country

It is 36 years since I first visited India, flying into what was then Bombay, on a sunny January morning in 1983, eager & ready to start work.

From the second the plane touched down, I was hooked.

Intrigued.

Instantly in love with the sights and sounds and smiles and colours of India.

I would soon meet the young man who would, nearly 5 years later, become my husband.

We moved away from India for work, back to India, away from India again, until Himmat’s retirement in 2005, when we moved back here for good.

Our forever home.

We have lived through many momentous events in India – personal and general.

Our daughter was born here.

We have lost friends and family.

We have gained friends.

We have rescued & adopted cats and dogs here.

We have buried beloved cats and dogs here.

We lived through the terrible bombs and riots in Bombay (as it was called then) in the early 90s.

When we moved here for good in 2005 from Africa, we couldn’t land in Mumbai (us and our 7 animals) because of the terrible foods.

We lived through the heady days of the Anna Hazare movement, when it seems as if India was finally rising up against the corruption and venality of politics.

We lived through the vile horrors of the Delhi gang rape in 2012.

We have lived our lives in other words.

But I can honestly say that I don’t think I have ever felt as worried for, and alarmed by, India as I do at the moment.

There is a level of polarisation and communalism that is frightening, and for someone like me, an outsider-yet-not-quite-an-outsider, it is deeply disturbing.

There are so many good and so many wonderful things about this country and her people, but these days I’m finding it increasingly difficult to keep the faith.

Take, for example, the aftermath of the terrorist incident in Pulwama in Kashmir last week, which saw a suicide bomber attack a convoy of police buses and kill 40 men has polarised the country. There has been a very public outpouring of emotion. And there have been terrifying stories of ordinary Kashmiris being attacked in retaliation.

When all this sadness and fear is put in the context of the approaching general elections, one feels even more jaded and concerned.

Will the powers-that-be clamp down on the vicious online trolling that is happening? If you want to read about the truly vile attacks on a well-known woman journalist called Barkha Dutt, here you go. The trigger for the horrors that Ms Dutt is experiencing, was her offer to shelter any Kashmiris who felt threatened by the mob violence. This shows the depth of alienation in India, that a gesture towards (mainly) Muslim Kashmiris provokes such ugliness.

Where will it all end up?

I won’t apologise for sounding so gloomy, because that’s the way I feel. Sad. Worried. But most of all sad.

Cry, the beloved country indeed…

1 comment to Cry, the beloved country

  • Sunil Punshi

    Christine this one is your best so far. It is full of emotions, pain. It shows that you are worried about present situation in our country.
    Yes whatever happened in Pulwama was unfortunate & extremely sad but the way people are reacting on that is very dangerous for civilized society. By attacking kashmiris, we are pushing them more close to Pakistan & terrorist.
    In India we saw many bad stories of extremism, 1984, terrorism & now the most dangerous one is trolls terrorism. We have lost the freedom of expressions. People aren’t understanding the fact is our politicians are misusing them by playing nationalism card to win general elections.
    The bitterness amongs people is increasing day by day & don’t know where it will stop.
    God bless our country with more love & peace.
    By expressing our views here I don’t know whether we will be the next target of trolls.

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