Of attacks and apologies

When the Ram Sena and Hanuman Sena go about beating people for going to a club, (and even when they kill language with atrocious slogans like “Valentine vulture is against our culture”), when Hindutva groups bring down mosques and burn churches, or when right wing parties attempt to rewrite history, I am not asked to conduct a rally against them, or to explain to the world that that is not what my religion teaches.
I have also never felt the need to apologise for the centuries of oppression that people of my caste perpetuated on the lower castes. I do not have to share the blame when “upper caste” people thrash and rape those of “lower castes” for entering villages, temples or drawing water from the pond.

I wonder why then we expect people of any particular community around the world to apologise for, or to hold rallies condemning, the actions of a few fundamentalists who hijack the religion.


The killing fields

Perhaps it wasn’t the nicest way to spend the last day of the year. But we can’t look for nice all the time, not less so after having stayed mute spectators to such crimes against humanity. The audio guide at the Killing fields near Phnom Penh will tell you this isn’t history’s only genocide, it isn’t the worst; it isn’t the first and sadly, it won’t be the last.
Walking through an open ground with tooth and bones, clothes and shackles of thousands executed in no time for no justifiable reason overwhelms you. It also shows you how cruel we are as a species and how primitive we can be. Skulls cracked open with hoes and machetes, pierced with bayonets and farm implements stand witness to what ambition can do- how dangerous a seemingly utopian ideology can actually be when corrupted by power.
Perhaps at one point you realise how horrible all this is; perhaps at that moment you will look around you and see how we are collectively disgusted by the horrific acts of the Khmer Rouge, perhaps you will think that the world is becoming a better place and that we learn from the mistakes of the past.
At that moment the audio guide will tell you that even after the fall of Pol Pot- the one man who makes Himmler seem human- most nations looked up to his government as a valid authority, a member of the United Nations and an attendee to its peace conferences. And a sudden realisation will dawn upon you that 35 years on, we are still killing each other- for ideology, for religion and for oil.
To recover from systematic killings of almost a fourth of its population and to wake up from a nightmare that sadly wasn’t a dream, Cambodia, you deserve a salute. You exemplify the resilience of the human spirit- the spirit that will rise even from the deepest abyss of a living hell to work towards a life filled with love and peace.