For many of us, the living room converts itself into a theatre where we watch death and destruction being wrought on a daily basis, in far flung areas and, at other times – such as today – closer to home.
We watch, we inform each other, we exchange sighs and sad looks. We ring up to inquire of family and friends, to ask about their safety and to caution against venturing out too much. We watch, we wait. We feel helpless. And yet we go on.
We are like a bystander to this madness, this mindless game where the decisions taken, the consequences wrought, all seem to form a nebulous mass. The television channels, the newspapers, they all run round the clock spewing out data. There is just no time to process, no place to store this in our hard drives that are overflowing with so much violence. No neat boundaries, no us, no them.
We are fighting with us, amongst us. The situation is an enormous knot and no one knows where to begin to sort it. Our leaders pass statements and bicker among themselves. The situation is under control they say. They lay the blame at the doorstep of India, or the US, or some unknown foreign element. We have purged the cantankerous growth, they say, with the Swat operation and now there is only the chemo left: South Waziristan.
There is widespread disenchantment and apathy towards the surgical cure. What shall we cut off? What is left? Why was it allowed to metastasize so in the first place?
At a pure emotional and visceral level I see and feel what is happening. It is hard to intellectualise and pontificate regarding the need and logic behind this suffering that takes its greatest toll on the man in the street and not those of us who can safely hide behind heavily guarded doors.
But in the end the death toll just becomes a number to be quoted despite our efforts, every moment of every day, not to completely desensitise ourselves and not to completely shut off.
The writer lives in Lahore and is a co-editor of Chay magazineReuse content