When I was a little younger and the topic of war cropped up in any discussion, my father would always emphasise upon me the pain and suffering which war brings upon the people. The history texts taught in my school (and many others across the nation), indirectly or otherwise glorified the practice of war. I haven’t experienced any wars; only read about them in the papers and saw the mutilated bodies on prime time television. At most I’ve lived through a few communal riots.
My father’s words would run a chill across my spine but the ghastly images no longer shock me. Overexposure desensitised me. For my father things might have been a little different. During the partition of India he was merely a toddler, but the anecdotes of the anarchy that followed must have impacted him. 1962, when the Chinese came knocking at our doorsteps and ‘India’ left the northeast to fate – he must have felt the pangs of being unwanted and uncared for. 1971, Pakistani mortar shells landed on the village fields and his pet mongrel ran away in the cacophony – never to return again. The refugees who rushed in had tales of brutality and savagery to narrate. His brother – then a lieutenant in the Indian army – was on the battlefront.
Now we possess nuclear deterrence, but my English text was not as insensitive as History. It described the horror of Hiroshima. North Korea fears U.S. will nuke it and China threatens to blast the Americans if they meddle with Taiwan. Nuclear deterrence or nuclear arrogance?
The wars of today are fought in lands far away from mine, involving people I don’t know. It is perhaps why I don’t seem to care. But what about the little battles, still raging? The ones against our own kind. The ones which we dump into the collective waste of our memory of the other India. We let loose an Army trained to kill in order to pacify the disoriented and disgruntled youth. We conduct air raids and bomb our own towns. They cry rape, murder – we say terrorists (militant is too soft a word). They start off as well intentioned militants – we transform them into terrorists because we just don’t care.
My father nowadays doesn’t discuss war. He prefers silence. Perhaps he still cares.