Wednesday, 10 August 2011

I long for the Indian monsoon

I was 10 yrs old when the 1984 anti-Sikh riots erupted in India. Unabated violence in Northern India against Sikhs, following the assassination of the then Indian Prime Minister Indra Gandhi by her two Sikh bodyguards. It is not a time that I've thought about or ever remembered in any great detail. But last night, the haunting images of my tearful mother and a distraught dad shaking every time the doorbell or the telephone rang during those riots just would not leave me. I remembered after all these years how my father had to hide in the Hindu household next door for a few nights. And how we were holed up in our house, with curtains drawn and no lights, for several days. Horrible memories triggered by the images of London burning last night on my TV screens. Something that I've never talked about loud and shudder to think about even now. I was only a little girl then.

But it wasn't the London riots itself that gave me a sleepless night and reminded me of that frightening time in India, but the more shocking images of a helpless police standing by and not doing anything.

I insisted that my son slept in my bed, I became so paranoid. It did not help that living in Croydon, one of the more severely affected areas, made me feel very vulnerable.

The background of the 1984 riots in India and how the violence was characterised at the time are both hugely different to what happened on the streets of London and beyond in the last 72 hours. But as a law-abiding citizen what sent a shiver down my spine is how bloody helpless we are when violence erupts. The State always fails to come to rescue. And you could be anywhere in the world.

Coming from India, like many others I was led to believe that nations such as Britain have the willingness to look after its citizens and their welfare. Living in this country for the last 11 years has dissipated that belief to a large extent (Six years ago when my car was vandalised in front of our house and two of the car wheels stolen by joy-riders, the only luck we had with the police was an incident number we managed to get on the phone. The police did not bother to grace us with their presence. "It's a common occurrence," we we were told). But it is the urbane corruption and the hypocrisy of this country that make me tremble with both fear and rage.

Living in England in 2011, I should not be living in fear of my life, my family's life. I should not be driven to keeping my passports & valuables within reach or forced by fear to keep a knife under my bed. I need to have faith in the system and the people around me.

Tonight I shall go to bed wishing for an Indian monsoon. A downpour of heavy rain, booming thunder and plenty of lightening and wash away this melancholy.

Tonight I want to sleep safe again.


  1. A harrowing post.

    I can only hope that normal, law abiding citizens like yourself can take the city back from the criminal gangs - and that at last your fears and worries will be taken seriously. We are paying the price for ignoring these developments.

  2. Btw, the spam block thing just asked me to write the word 'feral'. How appropriate.

  3. There has been too much mindless thuggery, but it is the support of people around you that continues to build/restore the faith in humanity.