Sunday, November 30, 2008

Names, serial numbers and a bunch of unknowns

Thats the thing about a bloody newspaper office -- you can't ignore whats going on in the world outside. No matter how much you want to block out images of explosions and blood, charred bodies, burning hotels and Versace wearing gun-toting 21 year olds, the TVs are always on. The bombs are audible on all channels. Everybody is clued into what's the latest. Reports of a rising death toll pour in every fifteen minutes, and reporters deftly go about filing 'human interest 'stories; of the Shiv Sainik who helped, the guy who had a burnt arm flung into his living room, the doc who substituted hotel napkins for bandages, and others who stumbled across limbs lying in a stench filled Crystal room.

We typed out this list yesterday. In office, at work. A roster of dead people. It was a straightforward format. Name, age, sex. Like an attendance register. There were names of unknown people too. So we wrote Unknown -- 'u' uppercase. It was just a list. We kept calling it the list. Not thinking, just typing. Forcing ourselves to be mechanical, unblinking and fast. The list. Four month old girls, hotel chefs, these 40 year old bankers, somewhere a Canadian national because it was written in brackets, entire chunks of same surname people. All dead. Complete families, ordinary names. A Nivruthi in one hospital, a missing Ghorpade. A collection of Yadavs, a Sheikh Mohammad, an Arjun something and an Arif. Next page, same list: Asif, Sheetal and Shweta. There was a Gautum and something with P. A Betty Alfonso, a string of Marathi sounds, long Muslim names, and multiple Bihari enders. Parsis too. I remember reading out a Dinshaw and glancing at the age column. Man-woman didn't matter. Dead is dead and what's in a name. There was your name and my name and a name that my friend knew. And we just went about typing it. Quickly. No tears. Double checking spellings and fighting our little, insignificant, fuck-all-diffference-making 'war on error' because that's the job.There's nothing else we know and nothing else we could do.

5 comments:

bluespriite said...

I guess some of us have no choice.. have to face the facts hard on.... it's a very touching post...

Brown Girls said...

Nothing to say, just a hug.

~Hug~

TouReR said...

well excellent post. this Indian 9/11 haven't came out of my mind still. i couldn't hold my feelings. cried it out completely.

Benny said...

Like robots,
engineered for control

:(

Hug

Anonymous said...

"There's nothing else we know and nothing else we could do."

Trust me, you can NEVER do what is needed. You are all part of a fucked up system, even if you wanted to do something you wouldn't know how to do it....

n no hugs for you, I don hug losers.....