Silent mourning

It’s a grim symphony. The dark clouds hang forebodingly above, threatening to send down the much awaited rains. The sun seems to have been overpowered by these dark masses of water. A chill wind blows, as if the harbinger of news that will send shivers down the spines of people. North India gropes in darkness under the cascading effect of a major power grid outage, again as if heralding the onset of darkness in people’s lives.
 Sure enough, along comes the flash news. Fire blazes through a coach of the Tamil Nadu Express, killing more than thirty people and maiming many more. A pall of gloom and despair descends.

The grim reaper has commenced his duty early in the morning. He, whose name is death, in the words of Longfellow, with his ‘sickle keen’ has done his job with his usual ruthless efficiency. Catching the sleeping passengers unawares in the early morning, he has  reaped a bountiful, gory harvest. We on earth here weep. Tears of helplessness. Droplets of anger and frustration. Did that brutal being have to select so many young lives?

Lives that had many more years of existence left. Lives on whom many more lives had built their castles of hopes and expectations. A million aspirations, reduced to ashes in a few minutes. More importantly, did he have to enact his macabre show in such a gruesome manner?

What sin had these poor souls committed to have their lives snuffed out in this horrible way by the lashing tongues of flame and the asphyxiating fumes of burning upholstery? Most of them, young professionals, returning to work in Chennai after an extended weekend at their homes. Not an inkling did they have of the fate awaiting them when they boarded the train. Now, they are mere unrecognisable lumps of flesh. Just numbers in the list of those who have perished in this fire.

 As Nobel Laureate Gunter Grass puts it, “in statistics, what disappears behind rows of numbers is death”. Yes, they have disappeared forever. Leaving behind shattered kin, who will have to live with the pain till they depart.    The mind recoils from even thinking about this tragedy. Meanwhile, the world goes on. For, life must continue, mustn’t it?  Who was it who said  “ in life there is death and in death there is life”?

As the heart silently utters a requiem for these unfortunate souls, as the monsoon winds play a dirge in this melancholic setting, as the reddened eyes waste their tears on a  merciless power, as the wails of the brethren die down into unutterable agony, the palms come together, as if on their volition. May all of you at least see sunshine and brightness wherever you are.

Amen.

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