Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Gujarat and Me....

Life is strange....however accomplished or 'arrived' we think we are, it brings us back to reality with one swipe of the wand....

A couple of years back, I was giving my interview for entrance to MICA. I was surrounded by engineers all giving the perfect interview answers....and then my turn came. The interviewer asked me, "what has had the maximum impact on you as a person?". In all my candor I gave him the only answer that came to my mind. I saw the worst of Gujarat....I went through the trauma of the Bhuj earthquake and an year later, saw Ahmedabad burn in the aftermaths of Godhra.

How did this affect me as an individual? It made me realise that nothing is permanent. People spilled out on the streets of Ahmedabad to help the injured after the quake. They stayed up all night trying to give hope to the ones who were burried in the rubble. There was no caste or religious demarcation....it was all for humanity. All this goodness came shattering to the earth when the same people an year later took up arms to kill their neighbours, friends and strangers. I saw mobs running on roads with fire 'mashaals' trying to find a person belonging to the other religion so that they could make a spectacle of his death.

It made me realise, that however big you become, when the moment of truth comes...god's children are all the same. Rich and poor alike slept on pavements, in cars, in gardens and just about anyplace they could find after the earthquake for fear of their cracked houses coming tumbling down. They helped each other, cooked food in community kitchens and joined hands in a bid to come out of this tragedy together.

I also understood the real meaning of fear. Fear was not about losing your job or something as mindless. Fear was standing on the 10th floor of a building watching it sway like a pendulum....looking out of the window and seeing buildings crumble like matchboxes...driving through roads where on either sides, people were stuck in rubble - shouting for mercy from the pain....Fear was sitting on the terrace of your building watching the mob below, wondering where you will hide if they come upstairs. It made me stronger...and helped me understand how the things we give importance in life are actually worthless.

For someone who was not there, all this may be over-exaggerated drama. For someone who was, a reflection of their truth and for me, a way of life. On the on-side, the interviewer surprisingly thought similarly and I did make it through to MICA...the only candidate selected from all of Gujarat. Some answers after all may not be perfect...but as long as they are heart-felt, perfection doesn't matter....

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