You. Yes, that’s you, ma’am. And you, sir. It doesn’t matter whether we know each other or not. And I am not sure if you noticed. But you, and I, are stained in red. With the blood of a sixteen year old.
May be you don’t know about this. May be you do, but don’t care. Maybe you were too busy proving your secular credentials – falling over the next person – trying to wish Eid Mubarak yesterday. Maybe you don’t know that there are few muslims in this country who feel safe, let alone celebrate without the feeling of being watched over their shoulder. Maybe if you show me a muslim who feels safe in this country, I will show you a dinosaur. Doesn’t matter, for you and I, are stained in red. With the blood of a sixteen year old.
Maybe you do care, but don’t have the time, or emotional bandwidth to process or make sense of what is happening. May be you know, care and are going to town with it. Maybe you have always fought for causes larger than yourself, with all your might. Maybe you regret not raising your voice so far. Maybe you are inured to tragedies of a kind or any kind because they are dime a dozen. Maybe you want know that even you, and I, are stained in red. With the blood of a sixteen year old.
Maybe you are a fashion entrepreneur, a data scientist, an uber driver, a mother of two, or a student. Maybe you are peace -loving. Maybe you hate politics and consider yourself apolitical. Maybe you repeat those things to anyone who would care to listen. Regardless, you and I are stained in red. With a blood of a sixteen year old.
Maybe you are a muslim apologist. Maybe you are a proud hindu. Maybe you know enough to know that those identities are not mutually exclusive. Maybe you think this country will be better off if every muslim is driven off to the other side. Maybe your dream is closer to reality than it ever has. Maybe it doesn’t matter what shade of saffron you are wearing, for you and I are stained in red. With the blood of a sixteen year old.
Maybe the government is to be held responsible for this. Maybe you haven’t seen any talk of this on your timeline. Maybe you are appalled at the insular echo chamber that our Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp timelines have become. Maybe you don’t use social media and think of those who do as suffering from reality distortion syndrome. Maybe if you look around, you will see that you and I – online and offline – are stained in red. With the blood of a sixteen year old.
Maybe you noticed that you and I prepared this crime. Maybe you know that the four young men who lynch mobbed and killed Junaid carried it out in our name. Maybe you need to show up and raise a stink to tell yourself and everyone else that this is not in your name. Until then, you and I are stained in red. With the blood of a sixteen year old.
Maybe you and I are the only ones who can do something about this. Maybe it will matter or it will not. Maybe his life would have amounted to something if it wasn’t cut short the way it was. Maybe, we can make his death tantamount to something. Maybe we will never find out until we try. Until we do, you are I stained in red. With the blood of a sixteen year old.