Topic Of The Day:-“Telling stories”

A few small stories from the aftermath might illustrate what I am worried about. The first comes from a concerned mother, a schoolteacher who asked me to talk to her children. She was concerned about the new metaphors and attitudes that had infected them. She had two children, the older was a girl of 12 and the younger a boy of 10. She said every time the two fought, the boy would tell the girl, “If you do not listen to me, I will do to you what Hindus did to Muslims.” The normalcy of rape and murder occupies a different colouration. One wonders whether a society recovers easily from such violence. I remember a driver who was ferrying me around Ahmedabad, a gentle man, 30-ish and extremely informative and helpful. He drove us around the riot-hit areas and would keenly listen to our discussions about our interviews with victims and survivors. A few weeks later he was driving us across Ellis Bridge and he suddenly stopped midway. He said, “I have to tell you something. I was one of them. I joined the crowd during the riots. What should I do?” I was flabbergasted and yet impressed by the honesty of the man. At that moment, I sensed that Gujarat has never returned to normal after 2002. Instead it has followed an artificial process of normalisation, with the victim forced to abandon his sense of loss. A facade of normalcy makes the society feel surreal. It also reveals that 2002 was not an example of the usual ritual of a riot, where victims return to the neighbourhood after a while. Tens of thousands of people did not return to their homes. These riots were also exterminist in nature. They sought the elimination rather than suppression of an ethnic group. There has been an attempt to suppress the narratives of both victim and witness. I remember a woman being asked by a member of an audience in a TV programme why she did not return to normalcy and forget things. She answered, “I want to but you won’t let me.” Probably one of the most ironic and poignant of these stories comes from R.B. Sreekumar, the police officer who took a courageous stand against the regime. He is a gregarious character who loves discussion. His wife told me that every time he went for a walk in Gandhinagar, bureaucrats in the park shied away from him. The stigma of bearing testimony is attached to witness and survivor.


1) Casualties

Meaning: A person or thing badly affected by an event or situation.

Example: The building industry has been one of the casualties of the recession.

Synonyms: Victim, Sufferer

2) Aftermath

Meaning: The consequences or after-effects of a significant unpleasant event.

Example: Food prices soared in the aftermath of the drought.

Synonyms: Outcome, Wake

3) Sublimation

Meaning: To express strong emotions or use energy by doing an activity, especially an activity that is considered socially acceptable.

Example: Hostile feelings and violent responses often seem to be sublimated into sporting activities.

4) Exorcism

Meaning: The expulsion or attempted expulsion of a supposed evil spirit from a person or place.

Example: The rite of exorcism.

Synonyms: Release, Purification

5) Cosmic

Meaning: Very great.

Example: The earthquake was a disaster of cosmic proportions/scale.

6) Catastrophe

Meaning: An event causing great and usually sudden damage or suffering; a disaster.

Example: An environmental catastrophe.

Synonyms: Disaster, Crisis

Antonyms: Salvation, Godsend

7) Metaphors

Meaning: A thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else.

Example: The amounts of money being lost by the company were enough to make it a metaphor for an industry that was teetering.

8) Normalcy

Meaning: The condition of being normal; the state of being usual, typical, or expected.

Example: The office gradually returned to a semblance of normality.

Synonyms: Routine, Lucidity

9) Ferrying

Meaning: To transport people or goods in a vehicle, especially regularly and often.

Example: I spend most of my time ferrying the children around.

10) Flabbergasted

Meaning: Surprise (someone) greatly; astonish.

Example: This news has left me totally flabbergasted.

Synonyms: Astonish, Astound

11) Abandon

Meaning: Give up completely (a practice or a course of action).

Example: He had clearly abandoned all pretence of trying to succeed.

Synonyms: Renounce, Forswear

Antonyms: Keep, Continue

12) Facade

Meaning: A deceptive outward appearance.

Example: Her flawless public facade masked private despair.

Synonyms: Show, Pretence

13) Surreal

Meaning: Having the qualities of surrealism; bizarre.

Example: A surreal mix of fact and fantasy.

14) Ethnic

Meaning: Relating to a population subgroup (within a larger or dominant national or cultural group) with a common national or cultural tradition.

Example: Ethnic and cultural rights and traditions.

Synonyms: Racial, Cultural

15) Poignant

Meaning: Evoking a keen sense of sadness or regret.

Example: A poignant reminder of the passing of time.

Synonyms: Pitiful, Mournful

16) Gregarious

Meaning: (Of a person) fond of company; sociable.

Example: He was a popular and gregarious man.

Synonyms: Sociable, Companionable

Antonyms: Unsociable, Reserved

17) Bureaucrats

Meaning: An official in a government department, in particular one perceived as being concerned with procedural correctness at the expense of people’s needs.

Example: The unemployed will be dealt with not by faceless bureaucrats but by individuals.

Synonyms: Official, Administrator

18) Shied away

Meaning: To avoid something that you dislike, fear, or do not feel confident about.

Example: I’ve never shied away from hard work.

19) Stigma

Meaning: A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.

Example: The stigma of having gone to prison will always be with me.

Synonyms: Disgrace, Dishonour

Antonyms: Honour, Credit