Here I sit in the Cochin airport, looking around me at various people waiting for their flights to various parts of the country -- the board lists upcoming flights to Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai, besides mine. Here I sit, and the TV screen to my left shows a cricket match. To my right, there's a sign to my saying "Smoking Prohibited", and two in front say "Fire Exit". Another says "Suggestion box", with this addendum: "Suggestions on Security, Please".
What suggestions on security come to mind?
I don't know, everything seems normal down to still more cricket on the tube -- but right now that last sign seems just a tad ironic, given the happenings in my own city in the two days since I left. First, a man gets on a bus, brandishes a gun and gets shot dead. Then, another man gets on a train and gets lynched.
What are we coming to? Or is that even a question to ask?
After all, we have for over a generation tolerated, even celebrated, the brand of politics that says we should draw a line between we who speak one language, or we who follow one religion, or we who are of one part of the country, or we who come from one particular caste -- and those others. I mean, the people who feed us this stuff are even called patriots. (What feeling for a country -- patriotism -- should we ascribe to men who attack other citizens of that same country?) I mean, there are even respected columnists claiming that this is no different from Barack Obama's concerns about outsourcing. (Among other differences, there's this: Obama's talking about jobs going outside his country, as opposed to demonizing fellow-citizens from elsewhere in his country).
And what's the obvious, natural-as-cricket-on-TV result of this brand of politics? Simple: the hatreds that lead to lynching.
And let's be sure: we are going to see plenty more such killing. Unless me and you -- me writing this, and you reading this, I mean nobody else but the two of us -- unless me and you tell ourselves, enough. No more support to such politics. No more celebration of such politicians as patriots. Instead, call them for what they are: the men who will destroy this country that belongs to me and you.
Do that, for a change. Forget every other equivocation that comes to mind. Just call them for what they are.