Friday, September 10, 2004


this is a rehash -

something i wrote last september 11, but i don' think the relevnace has faded any... particularly after beslan....

For a little while, a few nights ago, I sat in a room with a blind dog, as it bumped against walls.

He was an old dog, new to the space. So old that he had inoperable cataracts in both eyes. and he'd been in the room for only a couple of days.

A few days before that, the only person around to take care of him had been murdered. By the time her body was found it had started decomposing.

Her friends decided to take care of the dog, and brought it to their place. Where they also held a party, on what would have ben her birthday, becuase that's the way she would have wanted it.

Which is how i happened to be in the room with the dog for a little while.

As i sat in the room with the dog, while the party continued outside, I had a profundly banal revealation. For there was no reason that doddering, old, blind dog shouldn't have died years ago; except, it fells strange writing this, the humanity of those who took care of it. Isn't it the desire to preserve the most fragile, the most delicate, the most, well, useless thing; that makes us human?

It could have been so easy for her to put the dog to sleep... but she didn't. And there were many other lives she touched, with the same humanity, the same care for fragile things; she was a counsellor and a designer; and now perhaps it's not so hard to see the links between them. She wanted to open a chocolate shop.

It would have been so easy, perhaps, for those whose lives she had touched to turn to thoughts of revenge and retribution, of fear; and maybe they did. But they also came together to celebrate her birthday so shortly after her violent death. Chocolate was eaten, and wine was drunk; and despite all the sadness, there was much laughter, too. Her violent death had reminded us all of our own fragility; and perhaps, briefly, made us more human.

The dog too, eventually, fell asleep.


What were you doing on 9/11 before the TV switched on?

Before I started jumping up and down in front of the TV set yelling 'Long Live the Revolution'? That evening I was in love, and had been with a person I deeply cared for; new love is such a fragile thing. And then there I was exultant, jubilant; with what i can only think of now as... bloodlust. The logic of death falling from the skies onto the heart of murderous Empire was a logic that I totally subscribed to. The logic of spectacular, violent revenge. Even though I knew then, didn't we all, what was about to come?

The relationship, the love that had been so new then; was limping by the time September 11 came around next; it had disintegrated completely and in a spectacular WTC fashion, by a couple of months ago. And it would be so easy to blame 9/11 and all that has followed; the zeitgeist that haunts us all... But does everyone else conduct their love-lives like American foreign policy? when the slightest hurt, the slightest misunderstanding, the faintest sign of a disagreement, is met with a rage and deep hurt of truly epic proportions; the B-52s raining bombs from the sky before the heavy artillery kicks in, and what happens to the other person is collateral damage...

Much of what I have written and filmed since 9/11 has been, in essence, mourning for what the juggernaut of violence unleashed has, and can, do to to our fragile lives, and to those of people around the world. And yet, rage, like violence, is a performative act; Shiv's taandav is very astute mythology. I have perversely enjoyed the spectacle and power that rage brings; the power to just blow the other person away. my creative mourning has often seemed to be both premonition and hypocrisy.


There are other ways of dealing with hurt.

With much more grievous hurt, with much more terrible loss.

it took me a death, a party, and a frantic blind dog to realise that.

to forego revenge and retaliation and instead, to weave together again the fragile web that binds us together; to raise a toast to 'cherry, wherever she is'; to not 'be strong'.

... That night i wished to be fragile; I was fragile. I did not wish for armed guards, I did not fear the dark, not becuase I could fight whatever came at me, but becuase I knew that I existed not becuase I was strong. What kept me alive, all of us alive, are the fragile ties that bind us and crisscross our lives; and act as trampolines when we fall... we are all the blind dog.

I cannot change the past - 9/11, Baghdad, or Cherry's murder. i cannot change the future.

what i can do, perhaps, is to be gentler with the world and with myself; and especially with the ones I love.

in the words of lucky ali, 'kar kya sakta hoon, de sakta hoon main thoda pyaar yahaan par, jitni haisiyat hai meri...'

I think Cherry would have approved.


saw this brilliant pakistani film yesterday, the whimsical and elegaic, and very, very funny 'World ka Centre', mourning a world that disappeared in the days that followed 9/11....

11th September 2001, Lahore, Pakistan. A young man, Hasan, is leaving for New York later in the day to begin what he thinks will be a life of Western ease in modern America. He fills the wait saying goodbye to his friends who persuade him to have a farewell party. Someone brings the booze, another scores some hash, another turns up with a porno movie. Meanwhile the women in Hasan life lie around listening to J.Lo and watching Bollywood movies… World Ka Centre is a blistering insight into contemporary urban Pakistani youth seemingly untroubled by their Muslim upbringing, a digitally shot reflection on the repercussions of 9/11 in Pakistan that provides a powerful reality-check for both the West and the East...

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