And what do we do? We sit in front of our television screens, watching the sordid drama of mounting tension and death-toll figures, listening to the sound bites of the hostages who manage to escape or flee, waiting for the siege to end, waiting for the nail-biting finish. Hasn't our life become more theatrical than theatre itself? Mumbai is not under a siege, India is.
Our Prime Minister goes on the air and in his characteristic monotone, spews forth a few predictable phrases, a few shibboleths he himself doesn't believe in (but certainly expects the people to believe in them). The news-hounds are chasing people, in search of the elusive sound-bites, competing with the rival channels to get on air just one exclusive story, just one rare sound-bite that would put them ahead of others.
Paratroopers are being air-dropped on the Nariman House, NS Guards are taking their positions in and around all the main buildings the 'terrorists' have laid siege to, and the bleeding, traumatized 'released hostages' are being bundled into already choked hospitals.
Amidst all this, something lies completely torn and tattered, even irretrievably shattered...and that is the concept of India as a Nation, as a State. Somewhere, I think, we deserve all this. In a country, where the politicians are more interested in labelling 'terrorism' and less interested in dealing with it, we deserve no better. (Have you forgotten how Amar Singh and Mulayam S. Yadav pitched in for the 'Muslim terrorists' and L. K. Advani and Rajnath Singh plumped for the 'Hindu terrorists'? Who will ever tell them that the terrorists have no religion and that the only religion they practice is the religion of violence, gore and blood-letting? And who will ever explain to them the urgent need to exercise restraint in face of such crises of national importance and character?)