Little stories · Short stories

Arsee’s short stories 43 A letter from a father to his daughter

A letter from the man that taught me –

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

Our normalcy is in our madness.

Time gave us a little bit of a run, but there’s nothing some swimming can’t fix.

I love you Papa, the most special man in my world x

Thinking Chitalia

My story today is a special one. Here’s the most precious gift I could have asked for! In a way it is the sum of my father’s various experiences or in other words, the essence of his life’s stories put together so it can be of some use.

24th April 2018
Dear Riddhi,

It is a very special day today. At the stroke of midnight you turn twenty-one. Which is a remarkable feat considering the klutz you are! I am also overjoyed by the fact that you can finally cross the road and make difficult calculations in regard to velocity and acceleration of moving objects, we call cars, and negotiate a crossing by adjusting your own speed. Belive me, that’s very advanced calculas.

Jokes apart, I am happy you are now in adult land and boring adult things will be expected out of you. You have fought so many battles…

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On the other hand

Vote for! What for?

On the other hand, because there are two sides to every story

Vote for! What for?

The Congress released its manifesto a few days ago while the BJP is yet to release its manifesto. It could be happening today; I am given to understand by reading in the media. To all who do not get what this tumult about a manifesto is, allow me to explain. A manifesto is a written statement from a political party outlining the programs and measures it intends to take for the furtherance of the country. In other words, a manifesto tells us why we should elect a party that is standing for government.

Ironically the campaigning is in full swing, corruption cases are tumbling out of the closet and abuses are being hurled at the slightest or sometimes no provocation. But we the people of India are yet to be fully informed of the blue print of governance that every party has in mind. Well, does not matter, I suppose. The election is here and we get the leaders we get and vote we must, so in the absence of a firm guideline what are the issues that should be important to us?

I thought about this for a long time. What is the greatest problem that plagues our country? Is it corruption? Poverty? Religion? Administration? Terrorism? Economy? Security? Whenever I thought any one was important the other tipped the scale. I remained confused.

Then like a catalyst came this brilliant show on Netflix called Delhi Crime. Inspired from the horror of the Nirbhaya rape, this show with a stellar performance from actor Shefali Shah, had an inexplicable effect on me. I have no idea what it was about the show that made me weep and weep and then weep some more. It was like something or someone had grabbed my heart and jabbed it with an ice pick, over and over again.

It has been more than six years and yet the memory of those Nirbhaya days remain fresh in the minds and hearts of every Indian.

And then it came to me, an insight like lightening that breaks through a dark grey sky.

There is only one issue that plagues us; the value of a single human life. Let me correct that. The value of a single Indian life.

I was shooting for Neel’s short film Vision of the Future in Switzerland and I remember with pristine clarity the accident that happened on the Swiss alps, right in front of our eyes. A biker had fallen off and injured himself rather severely. All the lanes of the freeway were immediately closed and a helicopter swooped down in ten minutes to whisk the rider to the hospital. It is a developed country, yes. The population far less than India, yes, but that is not my contention. What got me was the simple dictum; when it came to a human life all else must become secondary.

Let’s all be very honest with ourselves here and with that searing honesty can we say that the value of a single human life is high in the eyes of any leadership of India? And why just the leadership, in our eyes as well? I for one, don’t think so.

When we look around and observe closely we realize that every malaise we suffer stems from this value of human life. From a pothole that refuses to be filled up to the police constable who only has a wooden staff to protect himself, to the state of our government hospitals, to our fight against terror; everything is about human life and the value for it. Feel free to think of an issue that really matters to you and you will find, and the chances are, that it is about the value of a single Indian life.

We are blunted by the news that we read every day. So many dead here and that many dead there. Some in an accident, some in an attack, more in a footbridge collapse and few by Naxalites; the list is endless. Pick up any newspaper and you will count more dead bodies than you can imagine. Lives have become numbers for us. We have become numb!

Nothing will work for us till those numbers don’t leap at our conscience and suffocate us till we don’t allow those numbers to turn back into lives again.

When a government and with that government when we as citizens learn to put one Indian life over everything else, I believe we shall see a new dawn.
The issue cannot be how a government can make my life better. The issue is how much my life really does matter?