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Of Crime and Punishment


As I’ve confessed before, I get  hooked to watching serials involving criminal investigations. Nowadays , I watch “Criminal Minds” .  In this series,the “Behavioural Analysis Unit “ of the FBI , works on narrowing down on the perpetrators of crimes with the help of behavioural clues  that the “Un Subs” or Unidentified suspects leave behind  through the nature of the crimes, the weapons used, the degree and kind  of torture involved, the profile(s) of the victims they choose and so on.

 

It must be stressful for people working on such cases throughout their careers , who  would be becoming  aware of the immenseness of the violence and intensity of negative feelings that lurk in the human minds and the circumstances that lay the seeds and the factors that contribute  to their growth and ultimate fruition , if one may call it that.  One of the actors Mandy Patinkin , who was playing the role of  Senior  Supervisory Special Agent , Jason Gideon, chose to leave the show  because he was deeply disturbed by all that was being portrayed  in it. His departure was written into the script  in the same way…..the letter left behind him  in that particular episode  mentioned that he could no longer make any sense of it all.

 

There was one particular episode,” Open Season”,  in which the team was investigating a series of murders in  a National Forest, just before the start of the hunting season. The victims appeared to have been running away from someone …hunted down like animals  and shot down with a bow and arrow. The perpetrators , it turned out,  were two young boys, who had been orphaned when they were five or six and had been brought up by an uncle, who never sent them to school or allowed any kind of social interaction.  All that they learnt of right and wrong  was from the only adult in their lives…this uncle ,  a distorted human being himself. Agent Gideon explains to his colleague how easy it would be for the boys  to do what they did, considering that affirmation of their worth  in their eyes, depended solely on the approval of their uncle   and the fact that the moral compass was totally lacking in their lives.

 

There is a scene in this episode where one of the boys is wounded  and  when Agent Gideon reaches him,  he whisperingly begs that his brother not be shot at , as he was the only one he had in his life and the  officer gently strokes his forehead and consoles him saying, “it’s okay son, it’s okay”.

 

I had mentioned about the  film “Human” in a recent blog…..a series of interviews with a cross-section of people all over the world talking about their experiences with  love, forgiveness, poverty, war , loneliness and so on. The first part of this series, begins with Leonard  from U.S.A  and what he had learnt about love. This is what he said:

“ I remember my stepfather . He would beat me with extension cords and hangers and pieces of wood and all kinds of stuff . After every beating , he would tell me,”it hurt me more than it hurt you” and “I only did it because I love you “. It communicated the wrong message to me about what love was. So for many years, I thought love was supposed to hurt and I hurt everyone that I loved and I measured love by how much pain someone would take from me. And it wasn’t until I came to prison, in an environment that is devoid of love that I came to have some sort of understanding about what it was and was not.  ….and I met someone and she gave me my first real insight into what love was,  because she saw past my condition and the fact that I was in prison with a life sentence for murder , not only murder, but the worst kind of murder that a man can do , murdering a woman and child. …and it was Agnes, the mother and grandmother of Patricia and Chris, the woman and the child that I murdered who gave me my best lesson about love because by all rights, she should hate me. But she didn’t and over the course of time and through the journey that we took….it has been pretty amazing….she gave me love…..and….and  (he grows silent here and the tears stream down his cheeks…) she taught me what it was.

 

As I read   reports and reactions in the newspapers, TV channels and in the social media , about  the juvenile  who was one of those  in the gang who committed the horrendous rape and murder  of a young girl on a Winter’s night  in Delhi  three years ago,in a moving bus,   being allowed to walk free, I try to sift through my own emotions . I can gauge the pain of the father, though unable to internalise it completely, who wanted to give his daughter all possible opportunities in life to go ahead ; I can empathise with the mother  who would be living through the pain her daughter suffered many times over , every time she dwelt on that fateful night.  At times, anger comes welling up  from the guts like puke  with the knowledge  that such incidents make all parents  become fearful  for the safety of their daughters  and that the only way they can handle their fears, in a country like ours,  is by making their movements  more restrictive.

 

And yet, when I read in the papers today , about the people in the boy’s village in Badaun District in U.P, describing him as a good boy , who never got into any fights   during the time he lived in the village, of his mentally unstable father and of his mother  for whom the only source of livelihood was the money he sent her after moving to Delhi, of the tiny hutment  which didn’t even have a proper roof till last year, of his siblings who are only eight and ten years old,   I wonder about all of the circumstances that had directed his life to move away from that village which is still ready to forgive and accept him back into their fold and  to befriend the others  and participate in that horror.

 

How did he lose his moral compass ? Is he alone responsible?

If I was in his place would I have been different?

Would I seek and hope for forgiveness?

Would I change as a human being if I was forgiven or would I be emboldened to repeat ?

Would others be emboldened ?

Is fear of punishment to be the only factor that will remove the existence of crimes?

Like Agent Gideon, I find  that  I can no longer make sense of all that’s going on.

All I know is this…that even as I hate what he did….I’ll  find it immensely easier to  think about it if I learnt that Nirbhaya’s parents forgave him .

 

 
 

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Zohaan’s diary-8


Three years on this wonderful planet with so many hours of discovery behind me and yes I can see the ocean stretching vast in front of me. Whew!!!! Life is beautiful indeed!

zo1

I sometimes watch my old self in the videos my Ummamma had taken and I find it difficult to believe that that gurgling, crawling , tottering kid is me in another dimension. I find him cute though 

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My favourite pastime these days is role playing. Why limit myself , I ask , when I can get into the skin of so many characters ! My Ummamma is sporting enough to help me be different each day and sometimes during different times of the same day. So I am variously the scare-crow, lion, horse, doctor, policeman, vegetable vendor, chef, Santa and so on.

 

 

 

And I watch lots of Peppa Pig. Her piggy family is very endearing. I particularly like George to whom I relate a lot. For one thing, he’s always asking, “Why?,, which I too do a lot and then he has a “pet toy” obsession, just like me. He is fond of dinosaurs much in the same way as I am fond of horses. I have them in all sizes and colours and believe me, I know exactly which one was gifted by whom. I am a bit of a” clever clog” that way, just like Edmund the elephant in the Peppa series. Just for the record, kids at three can develop a sense of humour and I am really amused when Daddy pig tries to hang a picture and breaks the wall instead and by the scare the bull creates in the china shop. I admire Miss Rabbit a lot too. I actually noticed and remarked that she was doing so many things from selling ice-cream to driving the school bus, managing a stall at the fair, being in charge of the rescue helicopter and a host of other things. Peppa’s circle of friends have become my friends too and I kind of vicariously enjoy the fun they have when they all start jumping in muddy puddles. I try to do it occasionally nowadays when we go for a walk after the rains and I find one on the way somewhere. Besides, I’m picking up a lot of new words and expressions like “Yuckkkk!!!” and so on. The other day, Ummamma was very surprised when I said , “Hey Presto” , when over-turning the paper tumbler filled with sand to make a sand-castle. I think she made the connection later on when we watched that particular episode when they were in the sand-pit and doing the same thing.

That is to say…..we kids naturally pick up grammar, vocabulary and expressions , if we are exposed to it and we love it that way. I’m sure I’m going to hate it if the teacher is going to sit me down and make me learn idioms and phrases by rote.
My Ummamma is a bit concerned that I am not picking up Malayalam, which is supposed to be my mother tongue with as much as the same speed., although she does try to speak to me in all three languages..English, Hindi and Malayalam. All in good time, I tell myself.

Meanwhile, I’m paying more attention to the workings of the computer. C.mon, you have to admit that that is what I have to keep abreast of in my time. Ummamma is co-operative. So I’ve learnt to click on shapes and fill colours using MS paint. I can save my files and drag them to the folder she made for me, close the window and shut down the computer. I learnt to “Skip Ad” , long ago as also to choose new videos from the list showing up on the side-bar. Don’t be surprised. Most kids my age will be able to do that if you let them learn. Just be around to see that we don’t get into trouble. That’s all we ask. Leave the learning to us.

 

Ummamma lets me do most of the things I want to do without getting bugged, except when I won’t put back stuff after I’ve spread them all over the house…most of all when I maraud her kitchen shelves looking for props for my “chef “ act. Secretly , I think she enjoys role-playing with me, but won’t let on and I can quite understand that she gets tired of bending and picking up stuff. The thing is I like teasing her too and my refusal is not so much impertinence as much as a strange delight I get when I look at her face trying to pretend anger. I can see through it and she knows I can see through it..but we both persist with the pretence .

Ummamma is glad that I like singing because it gives her an excuse to bleat out herself. I like songs with a good beat to it and I like to see them being performed alive . I try to ape the swaying movements of the singers when I’m crooning with my toy guitar much to the amusement of those who watch me. Enjoy… I say…just don’t go cackling too loud. I still find that upsetting.

 

Food is full fledged…love fish fry and chicken with rice and pappad and tomato salad. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Not fascinated by chocolates or biscuits , although I love to go around the grocery store picking them up from the shelves and putting them in the basket. Grandma puts them back before we reach the counter.

I like helping Ummamma water the plants and I do share her joy at watching things grow. She likes it that I do. What she doesn’t like is that I’m a bit stingy with my smiles and take a long, long while to warm up and become friends with grown-ups. What can I say? The other day, when I went around to meet my friends wearing my Santa cap and mask, Chrysalda Aunty who happened to be around told me that she had been good and so should be given a gift. When I asked her what she wanted, she said that she wanted a smile and hug from me. I was quick to respond, “That I don’t have”. May be I meant that I didn’t have that in my Santa bag. My Ummamma was aghast, I know. I think she has to accept that I’m coding my own individual software and it may not always tally with her own or anyone else’s.

Come to think of it , I’d have a lot of questions to ask the grown-ups around me too, you know. For one, why can’t all my dear ones be staying under the same roof ? Why do I have to be lugged around to different houses to be spending time with them during different slots ? My parents live in one house, Ummamma lives in another, Uppappa is still further away and my Dad’s parents too live in another house, though not too far  away.  I love it best when they’re all around together at the same time.

For the present , I am making the most of being a child. I am swamped with love and they do try to make an effort of trying to understand me for most of the time. The rest I guess, I’ll have to say , “forgive them, for they know not what they do “ 

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And I know that animals and people die. I haven’t quite got the hang of it completely…but I know that my great grandmother and great grandfather died and that they were both old and sick. Then I heard that the doctor uncle in the neighbourhood had died too and that he too was old and sick . So may be old and sick people die. I’m not sure . I’ve seen ants die and mosquitoes die and that they stop moving. I was more than a bit scared the other day when a lab attendant used a syringe to draw my Mamma’s blood for a routine health-check up. Was she not well ? Don’t quite know what was going through my head…but sometimes acquiring knowledge isn’t all that pleasant, let me tell you. I think you need to slow it down sometimes, may be , or at least be aware that we kids find it difficult to process the new inputs as rationally as you would want us to. Just be sure you’re explaining it to us in a way that doesn’t unnerve us, okay?

So that’s the round-up for my third birthday. Looking forward to a lot of fun in the evening.
Love you all. 

 
4 Comments

Posted by on December 10, 2015 in Zohaan

 

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Unravelled yarn


I sat  unravelling a mass of wool

As tangled as my identity.

One strand at a time, from the vicious loop

Towards a  possible harmony.

 

I am my country,

My colour , my creed

I am my gender,

My language, my breed

I am  wha t ” I” think

I ‘m what “You” see in me

A  prisoner enchained,

A  spirit that’s free.

 

I am my bones, my muscles, my cells

I am my genes ,  my chemistry

I ‘m  my  own compass to chart my seas

I’m  nothing but my destiny.

 

I am joy, I ‘m  sorrow

I am guilt, I am greed

I am what they taught me

I am what I read

I ‘m my past unfolding

I’m the seed, I’m the tree.

I am limitations

I am possibility.

I am the expanse of the  limitless sky

I’m  the mystery of the abyss  deep

I am the songs that I scribble and sing.

I am the secrets that I keep.

 

I am a poem, I’m a prayer

I’m a circle, I’m a square

I’m an island, I’m a stream

I am buried, I am bare.

I’m the cycle that repeats

I am life, I am death

I’m the silence that enfolds

My heartbeat and my breath.

 

I ‘m the bird in flight and I am  the worm

I am   the mountain and the meadow green

I ‘m the lashing  storm and the gentle breeze

I’m the seraphic being and the monster mean.

 

I am peace, I’m perfection

I’m the truth in  illusion

I’m the music in you

That sings in me.

I  dwell  in beauty

I’m Om and Ameen

I am the saint and the sinner

I’m the dawn serene.

 

 

I am and I’m not, I’m awake in my  dream

I am awareness and  eternal   bliss

I am what I am,  I’m not what I seem.

I am the kisser as well as the kiss.

 

I  am  in the conch shell

And the rosary beads

I am that  ocean

To which all rivers lead

I am questions at rest

I am below , I am above

I am the answer I seek

I am joy, I am love

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
27 Comments

Posted by on December 6, 2015 in Poetry, Uncategorized

 

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Yes , there lived such a man .


 

A sea of souls  singing a song of love

A man standing tall and unbent

Words  dug out from a treasure trove

Of a life lived bravely and with little  regret.

 

 

Creases like verses etched on a face

In solitude,  within prison gates

Eyes that shone with the quiet grace

Of a  knowing  wisdom  that conquered   hate.

 

A  legend  of forgiveness that survived the test

A beacon of light that dispels the dark

A trail of ink of humanity’s  best

That leaves  behind an indelible mark

 

Yes, he was the captain of his soul.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on December 6, 2015 in inspiration, Uncategorized

 

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The luxury of guilt


Guilt is like scratching
The scabs that have settled to heal
The oozing blood comforts.
It’s really just pretending
That the numbness you feel
Has not forgotten the hurt.

It’s like banging your head
To say hello to pain
With the secret consolation
Of knowing to anaesthise your dread
With the inured bane
Of routine and repetition.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 18, 2015 in Poetry

 

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Wilderness


Sometimes the soul stiffens
Into long silent screams
And each slice of self is crushed
And each belief wrung out.

Hope cringes back in terror
And recognises itself
In all it’s vulnerability
Too small and weak to shout.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/lynzybilling/where-syrian-children-sleep#.suAXdJl8q

 
6 Comments

Posted by on November 18, 2015 in Community, Poetry

 

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The Daily Me


Violence yet again  rocks a European  city . The perpertrators are said to be members of the ISIS . They were heard to be shouting “Allahu Akbar “  and therein lies a tale, narrated by some, thankfully not  all.

According to that story  everyone across the  world who believe in a God as the source of everything  and call that source by the name of Allah become partners or accomplices  or at least are silently acquiesing  and tacitly  approving these deaths.

“Why are the muslims not protesting enough? “

“Why is there no outrage?”

The “terrorism  has no religion “ response on the social media  has become passé , they declare and is too lame .

After reading  very many such posts on the Facebook,  the social media I am a member of,  I was curious enough to find out if this was indeed true.  I just googled using the words “Muslims protest against Paris killings “ and 74,50,000 links showed up at that point of time.

These are a couple of them:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/11/14/how-muslims-around-the-world-condemned-the-paris-attacks/

http://www.alternet.org/media/muslims-around-world-condemn-paris-attacks

I then googled  “Muslims silent on Paris killings” and 36,10,000 links showed up. A cursory glance at some of the initial pages though, were in fact, those that pointed towards  muslims speaking up against the current attack and the earlier incident of the  Charlie Hebdo attack.

http://www.ibtimes.com/moderate-muslims-use-jesuischarlie-condemn-charlie-hebdo-attack-paris-1775986

I then remembered reading an article  in the New York Times  written by Nicholos Christoff  titled ,”The daily Me” .

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/opinion/19kristof.html?_r=0

It is  a very, very perceptive way  of looking at the way we search for information  that matches our own line of thoughts, attitudes , beliefs or prejudices and I can often see the truth in that,  in the way I  choose the key words while googling for something whenever I want to quote something that will affirm what I set out to say.

“we generally don’t truly want good information — but rather information that confirms our prejudices. We may believe intellectually in the clash of opinions, but in practice we like to embed ourselves in the reassuring womb of an echo chamber.”

As far as Indian muslims are concerned,  may be they are not as vociferous  perhaps  as their Hindu counterparts when it comes to denouncing dastardly acts committed in the name of religion, going by  the numbers who do so.  But then the Hindu population is far more . I wonder how the numbers who raise their voices reflect in terms of percentage and whether at all,  the voices raised are heard or registered.  Also, Hinduism  has hundreds of years of an inherent tradition of allowing dissent in thinking and giving expression to the same.  Islam , on the other hand , is a relatively new religion and it’s followers who are ordinary citizens , in a country where they are in a minority are perhaps a little diffident of speaking up and choose to go silently with their lives. It would be very far from the truth, however to conclude that they support such violence.

I’ve always felt that the more distance,   both physical and mental , that we keep  from those we perceive as the “others” , the more we are prone to falling prey to our prejudices .  I don’t know if this is absolutely true, but may be most  of us are more comfortable in forging friendships with only those who share  our beliefs, whether it be religious, political or something else. I admit that is largely true in my case.  But may be that is why the distances grow.  May be we need to have sane conversations for a start  , which does not resort to name calling and four-lettered abuses with people  who don’t share our views and without our egos getting in the way.

May be we need to listen more and not immediately think of ways to counter the other.

Although, perhaps, that is precisely what I am doing now :-) :-)

 
6 Comments

Posted by on November 15, 2015 in Community

 

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