Sometimes, the thought of going home becomes an intrusion. Like when you're driving down the expressway, happy to have lost the road back to the city. The thing with happiness, though, is that it has an evil twin.
Tonight, I will go home and be thankful, for the big house, my two rooms, for my middle-class birth, for every material comfort that I so often scoff at in the name of humility. Because we live in a world where these things matter enough to save your life. Because my parents have two cars, their own house, and comfortable bank accounts, our lives are worthy of being saved. It sounds insane, doesn't it? But when I read about all those lives that are so dispensable because they have no other defence than their tears of anguish and helplessness, whose cries and appeals go unheard - this is all I can come up with to explain how this sort of continuing terror can be perpetrated on the people who have put the present government in power. The people whom the government purports to protect. Instead, children are dying, men and women lie wounded in hospitals, each reduced to a name and number plastered across their forehead with duct tape. The language of diplomatic communication has always been maddening; annoyingly passive. The prime minister has been kind enough to say that Delhi is "concerned". When your child falls down and hurts his knee, you show concern. When your house is full of termites, you're entitled to be concerned. But when the women of your polity get raped and murdered, when you can look at the fear on the faces of the men and children, and still shoot them to death to make a sham of all your promises, a mockery of the democracy you claim to ensure - I'm thinking there needs to be more than a show of "concern" and "direct interest".
Nandigram embarasses me. On the way to work, when I see a group of foreign tourists wandering aimlessly near Raj Bhavan, looking appalled at the empty streets of a city whose charm lies in its people, its overwhelming crowds, I am ashamed for the anxious alertness in their body language. When the police crack down on artists raising their voice against the atrocities, the complete disregard for the democratic rights of the people in my state embarasses me.
My city's silence, and my own, embarasses me. My 'education', the 'awareness' and 'exposure' that has cultivated for me and for those like me an ostensible 'voice', embarasses me because of the way in which it is being threatened and systematically quashed by my government.
And when I go back home, and think of all those people who have been rendered homeless, landless, and, in so many cases, without a family, I will be embarassed for the comfort I was born into and for the inability to do much else than to wallow in it.