The air was filled with raucous sounds, growing louder as more crows joined in the chase of a whitish bird. Scanning the skies for the unfortunate victim revealed a beautiful white owl glowing golden in the early morning sun – the kind of creature I would have been extremely happy to observe at close quarters.
The crows were relentless – circling around like vultures, leaving the poor soul no room to escape, swooping down and pecking at it – trying to bring it down so they could devour it as just another piece of flesh. We tried throwing stones at them – an obviously lame endeavor but, that was all we could do. The owl must have been battle hardened because, it finally broke out of what seemed like a black vortex of death.
Pleased as I was with the outcome, I couldn’t erase from memory the owl’s moments of struggle – when it must have wondered whether it would be able escape at all. I speculated on thoughts that would cross the minds of people who stare at death, rape, abuse or situations too horrible to even imagine.
Not just Nirbhaya, the New Delhi student who was brutally raped and murdered, becoming a media icon in the call against sexual abuse but, innumerable other women and worryingly, even children who are raped each day. The farmer who tending to dying crops and hounded by the money lender, decides in despair to hang himself, leaving behind a wailing, destitute family. The honest policeman hassled each day to meet his superiors’ demand for their quota of ‘grease money’, shooting himself in frustration. The human rights activist who decides to put public good above self, suddenly finding himself cornered by hired goons. The woman tortured for dowry each day, being burnt alive by her in-laws. The low caste family standing up to high caste villagers being paraded naked as every single person they thought supported them, disappear into their homes.
Would they not have prayed for somebody to come to their rescue, for somebody, anybody to relieve their misery? Why is it that we as individuals are so afraid of what harm may come to us that we neglect to lend a helping hand to our fellow human beings? For heaven’s sake, what good is our nation if we cannot even be humane – if we cannot stand by those who need our support in such difficult times?
Cocooned in our world of comfort, why can’t we see the pain in our fellow citizen’s eyes? Why do we hope that everything will be normal if we just ignore them?
I know it seems like an impossible task at times and we give up even before we begin. But, should we not try to make a difference wherever we can? Instead of just thinking about charity, we could donate a month’s salary to our domestic help/whoever we think needs the money. Instead of pretending to not notice an accident, we could take the victims to the hospital. Rather than walking past with unseeing eyes, we could support a lady when she confronts eve teasers.
It is 63 years since India became a republic- isn’t it high time that we rescue the owl from the crows that hound it?