Trembling lip of Anand -- young college student, rage barely controlled, whom I meet at Sabarmati Ashram -- as he voices a stream of grievances and abuse against Muslims. We spend nearly an hour talking: acrimonious, heated talking. Eighty per cent of Muslims are terrorists! he says. We never touch their Haj pilgrims, why did they kill our Ayodhya pilgrims in Godhra? he asks. And since they did, since Muslims are so "anti-India", this reaction was "inevitable."
At one point, another journalist butts in to ask him, what about the 200 women at the Juhapura camp who were raped? This gets him, if possible, even more irate. That's a lie, he shouts. You media people -- and here he turns on me, looking ready to strike me with those muscular arms any second -- spread these lies about Hindus! The journalist, she practically snorts in scorn and disbelief and stalks off. Anand, he looks ready to explode.
Look, I tell him, I don't know about 200 rapes. I'm not spreading any such story, because I don't know. But I do know about one woman -- one dazed woman with a soul-deadening emptiness in her eyes -- whom I met at a camp in Godhra. She was raped. By more than a dozen men. She is now pregnant. Let's not talk about numbers like 200. Let's talk instead about this one woman. Why was she raped?
It gets him quiet, thinking, for a short while. Suddenly the equation has changed from a number -- 200 -- to one flesh-and-blood human being, one degree of separation distant. Right there, and even if for just that spell of mere seconds, I feel I have got through to him. He calms down just a bit after that. He also seems to appreciate that I listen instead of scorning him, as he is furious at the other journalist for doing.
And because he thinks that, he gets me thinking about some things he says too. At the end, he actually apologizes for being angry, I do as well, we promise to stay in touch.
Some little achievement: a few moments where we move beyond shouting and anger, manage to talk and listen, think about each others' views. How much blood have we lost because we don't listen any more?