Death doesn’t move us anymore : The Tribune India

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Death doesn’t move us anymore

Death doesn’t move us anymore

Photo for representation. File photo



Sumit Paul

A few months ago, I saw the dismembered body of a beggar at the Mahim railway station in Mumbai. He had been run over by a train. Seeing an official from the Railways gather his limbs from the tracks and put them in a big plastic bag, a small girl was crying hysterically, even as her parents seemed to be nonchalantly enjoying ice-cream. It was also business as usual for most of the other people present there.

Why do most of us remain unperturbed by death and the loss of lives? That girl was crying because she had not become hardened like adults. Every day, several people in Mumbai are run over by suburban trains. Passersby hardly feel for them, and no such spectacle, however bloody or violent it may be, leaves any scar on their conscience. Is it a harsh urban reality or the benumbing of our collective conscience?

We have, more or less, become drained of emotions, feelings and responses. Death is an episode worth forgetting for the vast majority. It’s not even about statistics. It’s an incident as casual as smoking a cigarette and throwing the butt without even bothering to extinguish it by trampling it under the foot.

We have enough time on hand to agitate and protest for issues that are of hardly any relevance to us. But we have no time for fellow human beings, to stop and say ‘hello’ to them. We seem to have dehumanised ourselves and closed all doors and windows through which emotions, compassion and pathos can enter.

When Dhananjoy Chatterjee was being led to the gallows in the wee hours of August 14, 2004, at Alipore Central Jail, Kolkata, some human rights activists organised a silent, candlelight protest rally outside the prison. The next day, an English newspaper carried a photo of the rally. The mother and sister of one of the ‘activists’ showed the photo to all in their ‘para’ (a colony in Bengali). This is how some of us show our ‘concern’ for the victims and the departed ones. Even someone’s impending death could be an occasion for publicity. A retired police officer and writer later wrote that such candlelight processions were just a ‘dramatisation of emotions’.

‘A society that has no concern and consideration for the death of someone is a heartless society,’ wrote Dylan Thomas. The scale of human evolution and its emotional ascension are measured by the attitude towards the death of a person. So long as death belongs to the ‘other’ person and doesn’t concern us even remotely, we shall never be able to fathom the gravity and dignity of it. Alas, we have become destitute of emotions and feelings. Death doesn’t move us any longer.

#Mumbai


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