Oh, my God!

In a nation where life is cheaper than sawdust, one more tragedy and a few score bodies mean nothing. With instant death by any mode stalking the land at every step, the rails are but yet another avenue for the omni-present grim reaper (or Yama) to collect his deadly daily dues. Equally routine is the casual indifference and callous impunity with which those who caused such fatal casualties or those who were responsible for protecting lives, get away. Forget foreigner Anderson who hit a morbid mass jackpot in Bhopal, we are incapable of derailing even our very own Mamata, who has built a sordid ‘track-record’ of sorts in just thirteen months with as many accidents.

But to blame the absentee Ms. M would be to assume that she possessed the power of prevention. For, this collision-happy dynamite of a woman is as distanced and divorced from her chosen ministry as the trains are from the tracks of late! Under her the railways are on an anarchic auto-pilot, wholly at the mercy of the Almighty! And that brings us to the point, albeit after a laboured detour! All such tragedies have the habit of falling under an innocuous nomenclature: Human Error. But to believe, in a predominantly believing-world, that humans, whatever their hubris or humility, are capable of inflicting such misery on themselves by their own efforts alone, is to belie the Almighty. Natural disasters are dubbed acts their of God, so the divine fingerprints are clear. But, rationally speaking, no humanerror can happen without higher connivance either. Obviously the Hand that could have called a halt had abdicated leaving the coast clear for humans to err.

The, er, train of thought is unavoidable. Whatever our predisposition about religion and God, every tragedy raises this quintessential question:Why? Nothing can amplify this eternal enigma as the pain of the vicitms or the pangs of their kin. If indeed sudden death is inevitable, should it also be so cruel? Can’t a ‘compassionate’ God offer at the least the concession of a comfortable cessation? The dead tell no tales, yet it is not difficult to imagine the feelings of torment and betrayal that these souls would have gone through at the very moment their lives were being brutally extinguished: Falling like flying cinder from a crashing aircraft; getting crushed by the twisted steel of a derailed train; when even the residual air of a polluted urban sky turns toxic and chokes the lungs; or just burning up like inflammable camphor inside a sealed school, theatre or the like. And it is living death for the near and dear: trying to figure out if that charred figure is one of thier own; extracting, in full or in pieces, a relative-that-was through a mangled train window; trying to tally the lifeless contorted face with the one that smiled a goodbye only a few hours back … all man-made, no doubt. But behind the inhuman hand of man looms the un-divine shadow of God.

There is no dearth of explanations or justifications in the vast and varied spiritual manuals. From sin to karma, the polemics of pain has been paraded threadbare over the ages and across religions and regions. Indeed, the faithful have always identified themselves with such religious logic that their stream ordains. At an intellectual level too one can, if one tries enough, decipher a cause-effect symmetry in the chain of events; as you sow, so you reap is a fact of life and can stretch from and into past and future lives too, ie, if you care to seek a balancing of scales beyond the visible weights. Even the most scientific of minds, stonewalled by meta-physical obstacles, sometimes give in to such ‘non-empirical proofs’. But on a purely worldly plane these arguments are unacceptable even if valid. A human mind being what it is cannot but agitate over physical and mental pain suffered by self, near and dear and even unknown third parties, as in accidents. It may be just Breaking News for a sensation hungry, insensitive media, but it breaks our hearts too, spiritual maturity notwithstanding! Really, no theories of brought forward baggage or intrinsic sin can be a consolation to a child born blind or alleviate the nasty exits from earth alluded to earlier.

To me God is not a person with a precise postal address, say C/O Heaven, but a phenomenon that pervades space, time and whatever, or rather what not. Yet, sensory aids like idols, and chants are necessary to perceive It. But despite such ‘wisdom’, I have found it difficult to divine the ways of the Divine. I cannot fathom the lofty rationale nor play ball with the modus operandi. If there was indeed a holy scheme then things appear to have gone awfully wrong. And if really what we see all around us and all through known history is what was intended, then the motives and methods seem downright jaded and jinxed, if only to our limited faculties, which are what we are endowed with. Have dharma and good ever scored a permanant victory over adharma and evil? The latter could not have prevailed in all its glory till date if defeated. May be the script meant ‘lesser evil over evil’ till the former becomes the latter and the regression would go on eternally or till G says quits, whichever is earlier! But the point is the villains seem to be the most blessed!

To pit gross human impotence against supreme omni-potence makes for a loaded dice and an unfair game. The so-called free will too is a honey dipped trap that invariably trips you. It is quite disconcerting to realise that you are programmed to self-destruct unless the programmer chooses to alter the source code. Sometimes, even simple acts need effort, all conviction having drowned in a sea of disillusionment amidst the alternating waves of futility and frustration. The only compelling provocation to stir and start the day are the dire alternatives of terminal boredom or plain hunger! I remember a Hollywood movie in which Dustin Hoffman, playing a lawyer, says: ‘The entire humanity should bring up a Class Action Suit against God for all the pain and injustice He has inflicted’. Even normal humans kill through negligence or conscious will. Maoists claim to kill for ideology; terrorists kill in the name of their gods. Now, what could be the Almighty’s alibi and arguments? Judgement Reserved!

I remember starting off with M’ta and then I strayed. My ‘train’ of thoughts somehow got diverted, if not derailed. Thank God for that! Now, should Didi quit over the trail of train disasters or were they destined to ..

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Jawahar T R