Tag Archives: Citizenship

The Fighter Father


She was 6 years old. She stood frozen with her mother on the streets of Kanyakumari at 4 o clock in the morning, hoping the dawn to break, and the noise to fade away.Her Father was trying to fight it out with a rogue taxi driver, who thought to extract the maximum from clueless tourists…
“You can grab my collar Sir. No insults traded. I am a Taxi Driver. My work is to make money. Earn it . Sweat it. Cheat. or Snatch it.
What if I do the same to you? Look at your wife and daughter!”
But wrong was wrong. Who will see the right, if everybody was blinded by choice to the might of the wrong?
My mother warned, ” Someday you will not be in a state to fight any more. We will sit beside you and moan. You are a fighter- F.I.N.E!  But You are a husband and father too…”

That day came soon. Two decades later.

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22nd June, 2014. I watched the news flash blood soaked images of Daddy frantically. The scrolls reading-“A Thief had attacked a  Scientist, in a communally charged area…The DRDO Regional Director, while trying to nab a pickpocket in Charminar, stabbed...”
He walked valiantly into the Police Station, grabbing onto his cuts . Blood oozing out like water from a fountain.He told the Police who he was and called up Mother to say he was fine and fainted.

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48 Stitches. 46 cms long cut,4.5 cms deep, nearly missing the spleen and vitals.
Had it hit? I don’t even want to imagine that!
Lying on the hospital sofa for 10 days and more, I wondered…
My Father was stabbed while trying to get back the stolen cell phone of a colleague.They had been there in Hyderabad to attend a Director’s Annual Conference. That was the last day of the 3 day meet.
He was to catch a flight back home that evening.
23rd June was their Marriage Anniversary.

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Here sat my Mom receiving flowers from an ocean of visitors. Yes. Get well soon.
Doctors cluttered to ‘personally‘ talk to the man who was all over the Newspapers. Political parties queued up to offer their ‘apologies’. Colleagues across the country from almost the entire DRDO spectrum, were a pillar of strength that even family couldn’t provide. Unknown people walked in to get a glimpse of The Man
Here lay a HERO. My Fighter Father.

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What was so unusual about this?! Each day,each moment,in each corner of India, somebody burgled somebody else. So many other somebodys watched over passively,”it happens!!“. Many somebodys lost their lives- stabbed, wounded, bleeding till death… So W.H.A.T?!

Yes there was something unusual for sure.
Here lay a man, who bled for one, who wasn’t related to him by blood.  People didn’t do that every day, not even for themselves.
What did he gain?
An indefinite vacation in the hospital-thronged by well wishers. A tonne of apples, oranges and pomegranates. A much needed company of his children. Lights-Camera-Action! from the media, who savoured each bit of such ‘nearly extinct human species‘.  And the idea that he was so liked by so many, so much regarded, so very connected to so many unconnected people.
What did he lose?
Buckets of blood, that would take months to replenish. Some really important tasks that had to be done for the family. His own very expensive glasses.The clothes, that were a gift from his children.Lots of money on buying overpriced flight tickets,   & on uncountable phone calls. Flak of cynics who thought he was foolishly quixotic.

Oh! That meant there was more to be lost than gained.

I listened to him narrate to the visitors. Couple of Muslim representatives from a political party visited to apologize. They had met the convict, a “17” year old Muslim boy , in the juvenile home. He had asked them to convey his Sorry to my father- or so did they say.
Why was it being viewed from a communal angle I really couldn’t comprehend. The thief was Muslim, but so were most of the Nurses who took care of Daddy, just like his daughters. And so were many empathetic sympathizers.

It struck me then that we had completely forgotten about the boy. He was a Muslim so what? We didn’t have any anger against him, neither against a religion that was being made a casualty like truth. He was a victim as well- of poverty, of ignorance and of society’s indifference to humanity and compassion.

The boy had stabbed while my father held onto his hand, trying to reason with him, “you are my son’s age. Please give back whatever you have stolen“. But in a bid to escape, he had nervously stabbed and run away.

This was his 4th such crime. He had been caught by the Police earlier as well and put in the juvenile home.
Did it reform him in any miniscule manner?
He was fed and clothed and sheltered there and sent back with a license- to steal, rape, kill, whatever? Oh! He was a juvenile after all.
And in a country like India where birth records were as cautiously maintained as its Family Planning efforts, 17 years 11 months and 17 years 12 months definitely could be differentiated with pin-drop precision?!?

A thought to be spared also was- had not Daddy been in such privileged position, would  justice still have been delivered? Would he still have received the medical aid and attention with urgency?

He narrated, how he incessantly kept on insisting who he was, before he could get the Police help and bring in a sense of urgency. Had he been a somebody, he could have simply bled to death in a Police station while trying to file an FIR.

Then there were many who were good economists. They aptly calculated how he wasted more resources than he could save.
Well, Ethics and Economics never got on well!

But there were many many others who were proud of him and considered him unconditionally brave. Had they not stood with us in such trying times, it was hard to say, if Daddy could have recovered the trauma.

Such times in life are a watershed. They are revelations of who we thought are friends but turn out to be strangers by choice- bystanders in our life’s battles. And of who we thought were strangers but get strangely enmeshed with our lives.

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35  then, his blood boiled against the unjust, unfair, corrupt.
53 now, but the Specific heat capacity of his blood has still not gone up with age. And so he let his blood flow for the right, 20 years back, and still can- 20 years from now.

Papers would get new sensational news, the ‘ reformed juvenile‘ would be back again, people would forget most of this story soon.
But some of it would certainly be remembered, that there are still such foolish, impractical and unnecessarily brave people left in this big bad world who make most of us pause and introspect what we are and what should we be!

Hyderabad gave us the blood that flowed down from his body, and as tears down our eyes. Hyderabad gave us the Love, that bound our hearts and our lives. Hyderabad thus gave us the people we can so truly call- Blood relations. 20140628_212134

Yet a line from the news flash haunts my mind constantly, “This incident has nothing to do with DRDO affairs”.
True. But how promptly we close our eyes, ears, mouths, minds and hearts, at the slightest thought of “unnecessarily involving” ourselves in “unrelated” events that do not concern us.
Every truth is seen as an alleged lie. Every lie is treated as a proven truth. So much so that, we never step out from our comfort zones in seeking the right, in fighting the wrong.
Until the accident has happened to us, we think ‘it happens!!’, but we never ask, ‘why?’,  ‘How can we fight it out?‘ We just promptly declare, “this alleged incident has nothing to do with our affairs.”

Nothing has changed and nothing was supposed to- to be practical. But what has changed is, the thought that Heroes do exist and most of them donot make it to the TV. They are Anonymous. They are among us. They are within us, waiting to be woken up from slumber, called up to say, ” yes, it has something to do with me, although it has nothing to do with me.

PS: Rajiv Gupta Uncle and Laxmi Aunty. I have no words to thank you. And perhaps family is never thanked. All I can say is your affection makes me miss even the hospital days. 🙂
Vikas Uncle and Poonam Aunty, Paritosh Uncle and Sandhya Aunty and Venkat Uncle- for all that you have done for us, ‘Thank you’ would be a very small word. You made Hyderabad a home away from home.

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