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 .