In a yoga class seven years ago, they told me the Om is the natural vibration of the universe. For weeks now, I'm seeing the symbol of it on triangular saffron buntings. The Om is surrounded by the flaming corona of the sun—can anyone, anything, imprison Om? The vibration these buntings evoke is not soothing like when we chanted Om and went into meditation — when the master made us pray four times facing four directions invoking peace (sukhino bhavantu) for all. Of these buntings some are aloft, some fallen, drawn tight, hung loose, a clutter on the street, a mess. They are surely rousing some to anger and driving others to fear. They are everywhere, also in the Muslim areas, taunting the Muslims, daring them. Banners fly alongside buntings, and a major political party is a sponsor. The banners demand to know: "Why are we afraid to say we are Hindu, here in Hindustan?" I am hard put to answer the question. It is written all over my face that I am Hindu, and how can I add speech to it with pride when these chaps kill off a few hundred Muslims each time cricket goes into a lull? Moreover, I have said I am Hindu wherever I have gone in the world, and until I saw these banners, never imagined there's a need to fear to say it.
Some years ago, in Malleswaram, I walked by a vast gathering addressed by a fiery speaker. His oratory had charged the air, and my skin bristled in resonance. The public-address system was loud and clear, and his timbre-rich voice carried over the mass of people in the maidan, into buses and cars rolling slowly down the street so they could hear him a bit, and into shops and small restaurants where people sat and listened, rapt. "They ask us to welcome Muslims. To welcome everyone. Aaythappa. Okay. We will make our home their home. And then? Navellige hogona? Where shall we go? Where shall we go?" He was dreadfully convincing, as fanatics are, masters of rhetoric, masters of the dumb and the docile. That speaker should've known that his countrymen have lately been making the entire world their own.
On Sunday, to the taunts of the buntings, a B-grade Muslim politician gave response. He chose to grieve publicly for Saddam Hussein three weeks after Hussein's hanging. Shops and houses burned in Shivajinagar and its suburbs. An innocent orphan boy aged twelve fell to police firing. "Sorry," said the politician. "Calm returns," announced the front page of a leading paper middle of the week. It is now week's end, and the boy is still dead.
Yesterday night, with thoughts and remembrances like this, I watched Parzania and in it the Gujarat riots. Someone has dared to show what happened, one of our finest actors has given a committed performance, and the rest of the cast have ably supported the production. Very quickly in the movie, the quality of its making became irrelevant, and I subjectively suffered the evil that triumphs when good men are silent.
I beg every Indian to please go see Parzania. Riots must not happen. We must speak out against them, be ever on guard to prevent them, or we are as guilty as those who perpetrate them.