Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Terror struck Mumbai after striking Jaipur, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore and scores of places in north east and Jammu and Kashmir. In all these instances the definition of terror would be the mortal fear of the death dance in these places. Adults and children alike faced this mortal fear. Few individuals displayed courage, conviction and presence of mind in these situations. They remained unsung heroes. The heroism always embraces the person who embraces death.

Is terror a new phenomenon? For me the answer is a big “NO”. Let me elaborate on the issue. Through the seventies of the last century and the early eighties, I was a mute witness to terror or should I say a mute victim of terror. We resided in a house on the first floor which consisted of a hall, room, kitchen, bath and toilet. A similar house was on the ground floor. The staircase to our house as well as the forecourt of the ground floor was accessed by a common door at the end of a common passage leading from the street.

The ground floor was inhabited by a young couple with their only son and three daughters. The son was an epitome of the saying “boys will be boys”. His exploits could form a novel by itself. Some of the most important heroics of his boyhood were passing under a moving truck a la the movie icon Rajkumar of Kannada theatre, ripping his eye and going to the doctor valiantly holding it to be stitched into place. Another incident which remains etched in my mind is him being locked in the bathroom of their house as a punishment. The enterprising lad managed to pile some items to climb up and squeeze himself out of the ventilator much to the dismay of his corporal mother.

Apparently at her wits end the unforgettable words “Anna barli madisthini” would be uttered. Loosely translated it meant Let father come I will get things sorted out. The father was working in a factory and would return a tired man. Even as he entered he would be given a version of the exploits of his son during the day. The man would immediately caution his son in typical Mahabharat style where a warrior puts his adversary on alert with the famous “Sawadhan”. The only difference in this case was the caution bugle was sounded with the Kannada version ‘Hushar’. No sooner was this uttered, the common access door would be sealed to shut out the escape route for the valiant son. Then the blows would be rained amidst cries from neighbours for sanity to prevail. The boy would be thrashed mercilessly. As children we would be terrified of this entire theatrics even though it was a routine event.

The entire thing would be played out without any media glare. There were no big fights or face the nations. Unfortunately, this boy did not grow up into a jawan or a policeman as terror struck him day after day. Lest he would have proved to be an excellent commando who would fearlessly combat any foe with or without weapons. There may be many such unsung heroes too. The need of the society is now to identify such heroes at a tender age and groom them. Today, this young man is a victim of terror who also needs help.