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The Midnight Pragmatic Doctrine

December 27, 2008

The time was 11 PM and the date was 24/12/08 and the place was Kandhamal, Orissa.
Raphael Bernard very slowly made his way to the “Temporary Church” that his fellow people had managed to construct in the refugee camp for the midnight mass. He was feeling pretty dismal at the moment and very sight around him filled him with despair. The long stretches of awning in all direction were not a good sight for sore eyes.

Until recently, he had a job in the government arts college teaching what he knew best, the history of India. Until recently, he did live a mundane and sedentary life and was happy with what he was doing and until recently, he did believe in the Indian Dream but unfortunately, the last two weeks were hell for people living in his section of the town. The last two weeks had completely destroyed the last shreds of his Indian Dream and for the first time in his life, he found people questioning his patriotism.

As a professor in History, he could reel out fact, figures and dates about the various epoch making events that had been recorded in the course of Human History but one thing that had always stood out in his mind, which he always did make a point of telling the various traveling priests and nuns to their missionary school was, about India.
He took pride in telling people of the various different philosophies like Pantheism, Pandeism, Polytheism, Monotheism and Atheism that had always existed in India since the dawn of Human intellect and he also took pride in telling others that India, over the centuries had given shelter to people of different faiths like the Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Jews, Sikhs and the Parses.

It has rained heavily the day before and the make shift path to the church was full of rivulets of water mixed with sludge and this definitely was the worst Christmas for him. Thankfully he has his wife and kids with him for support and finally, they reached the church. The celebrations were at an all time low with many people losing their loved ones and belongings to the mindless slaughter and destruction.

The mass started on time with many people huddling in the cold night and Raphael managed to get some place inside the church for him and his family. He did feel some inner peace and tranquility as the whole camp was guarded by the CRPF and he was thankful to God for this small mercy.
As the midnight mass started, he just could not but think of what had happened over the past few days. When he first heard of the news of violence, he passed it off as a one time incident but very quickly the situation changed. He and his family did manage to flee the destruction and into the saving hands of the government but he later got the news that his neighbors were not that lucky.
With a silent prayer for the lost souls, he could not fathom the reason for so much extremism in this country. At the moment, the only thing he wanted to do was to reach out to his misguided Indian brothers and teach them about the Gandhian principles of love, compassion and above all, tolerance.
As he partook in the simple but delicious midnight supper, he vowed to teach his Indian brothers that they were standing on the very land where Human conscience had reached its zenith long back and also vowed to preach the teachings of Jesus and Gandhi to one and all.
He thought long and hard on things that he needed to do once all this nonsense was over and by the time he had come up with a concrete idea, it was dawn. As he watched the mighty Sun ascend across the brilliant sky, he felt the warmth cheer up his cold soul and began waiting for the day, he could step out of the refugee camp so that he could start his mission!!

Being the altruist that he was, he went about helping others and started rebuilding the delicate fabric of quotidian life that he so admired.
After all, life had to go on…………………

Edited to Add:
PS: I don’t know as to why I wrote this but I believe that it is all about getting different perpectives to widen ours!

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Kislay permalink
    December 27, 2008 1:08 pm

    Good story man .

    “over the centuries had given shelter to people of different faiths like the Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Jews, Sikhs and the Parses.”

    India gave shelter to the Parsees and the Jews . Jainism and Sikhism originated and this country , you know that . And most of the Christians and Muslims are the ones whose ancestors converted .

    There is nothing wrong with teaching Gandhian philosophy . But Gandhijee was not the only Hero India has had . What about teaching the philosophy of Vivekanada or Chanakya ? Or Ram and Krishna ? I feel that India has forgotten about its other Heroes , and it always just about one man .

  2. Ajit permalink
    December 27, 2008 1:15 pm

    By giving shelter, I mean that we Indians did not drive them away because of the different religion unlike the Roman Catholics of medieval Europe

    And the other real Heroes will never be forgotten by Indians…..
    I don’t think that it would ever happen….

  3. Smitha permalink
    December 27, 2008 1:54 pm

    Wonderfully poignant story.. Am sure most Indians still want to live together – with no hatred in their hearts.. It is just fringe elements which cause all this havoc..

    And Ajit, you make a good point with ‘we Indians did not drive them away because of the different religion unlike the Roman Catholics of medieval Europe’.. Clearly our ancestors were far more civilised than some of us are today…

  4. Vinod_Sharma permalink
    December 27, 2008 2:49 pm

    Ajit, you write from the heart, and anything that comes from the heart is touching. Today more than ever we need the spirit of tolerance that distinguishes this land and its culture from almost all others…Gandhi was the most recent beacon who showed the way again. And all of us, irrespective of our religion, should follow it with our hearts.

  5. Ajit permalink
    December 27, 2008 3:33 pm

    Thanks Smitha…
    and Vinod Sir, we are in urgent need of such beacon in present day India….

  6. J P Joshi permalink
    December 27, 2008 3:39 pm

    You have this unique ability to capture for the reader the entire gamut of human emotions alongwith an expertise at looking from the macro to the micro. Indian faultlines today are mostly in the micro picture. Thankfully, the macro picture is very much in tact, and is a model for tolerance, faith and hope.

  7. Ajit permalink
    December 27, 2008 3:43 pm

    Thank you Sir… and what you have said is brilliant……
    We need to improve on the micro front……

  8. Indian Home Maker permalink
    December 27, 2008 7:55 pm

    Ajit I had forgotten what might be going on there after the bandh was called off. We need such stories to not forget. Life there must be hell still … and to feel like outsiders in one’s own country is so wrong …

    @Kislay I think, Gandhi united us unlike nobody could have. When we talk of Unity, Equality, Love and Tolerance we remember Gandhi – he inspired confidence in the poorest and amongst all religions.

  9. Indyeah permalink
    December 27, 2008 8:05 pm

    beautifully written…..and from the heart…India does need the spirit more than ever ….

  10. Ajit permalink
    December 27, 2008 8:09 pm

    you are right IHM and thanks indyeah………….

  11. Charakan permalink
    January 2, 2009 8:20 pm

    Great Post.Let us hope those who kill Hindu philosophy in the name of Hindutva will come to their senses

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