Friday, August 13, 2010

Little Things With Great Love

The state of Jammu and Kashmir (in particular parts of Kashmir and Ladakh) is going through terribly troubled times, to say the least. News trickles in, biased and incomplete, about the number of people killed in riots in Srinagar and those killed in flash floods in Leh and perhaps worse - those that are missing. The army is working round the clock in Leh - trying to mend the Leh- Manali highway, rescue people and ensure that the tourists are safe. An uneasy peace has been broken again in Srinagar, with the imposition of curfew today and the civilian protest against the police and paramilitary forces continues alongside.

This large scale devastation affects each one, and we sitting far away in Bangalore are no exceptions. One of the students here, a Kashmiri, has been highly disturbed - too upset for a while to do anything other than keep calling his relatives, who want him to do no more than focus on his work. But he is unable to stop thoughts of how the forces ill treat the locals from flooding his mind, combined with worries about his diabetic mother who cannot get insulin if the curfew continues. People are angry with the police and paramilitary. But the problem is complex and is made graver by political play and militancy, which rise phoenix like each time a modicum of calm descends in the valley.

We also spent the last two days trying to trace someone's son from Bangalore who had gone on a motorbike trip to Leh. All phone lines were down, the communication towers had fallen during the flash floods. Finally we asked someone in the Institute of Astrophysics, a resident of Leh, who located the young man and then sent us a reassuring e mail. What he did not mention was that his own sprawling house had been washed away (as were many others - houses in Leh use locally available mud as packing material as there is normally very little rainfall there). How he and his family are managing is anybody's guess. How and when the young man will return to Bangalore is not known. But at least they are all safe.

Each personal story brings closer the gravity and tragedy of the situation at present. But it also highlights the strength and compassion of many - families sending their children away so they may study and do well, locals who are attending to work and helping in rescue operations without a word of despair or dejection. All these serve as beacons of hope and change.

Hope and compassion are things we must not give up on. As Mother Teresa said, "We are not born to do great things. We are born to do little things with great love." And little things done with great love have the ability to change people's worlds.

1 comment:

Romesh said...

While Leh tragedy has been a sudden phenomenon over which we had little control, the suffering in Srinagar is man-made and needs to be tackled on a war-footing.......(by ROMESH MALHAN)

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