How does one salve a septic injury? That heals only to be brutally opened again.
Terror has that devious quality. It wounds repeatedly to generate enduring pain. How does the vacancy caused by the death of an innocent beloved ever get filled? The hollow in our lives stays forever.
As the sinister drama of mindless bloodshed and dread gets played out on the streets of Mumbai, the city goes into a paroxysm; only to recover to be subjected to yet another convulsion.
So when one actor of the whole gory episode of 26/11 was delivered fate that was worthy of his crime, the Indian citizenry felt a soothing anodyne. Not one that will heal all fatal wounds, but provide a sense of relief, even if it can be tape-measured for its brevity.
There was no celebration, only a quiet vindication. The feeling of ‘at last’. For the people of India, a rare experience. Too often have criminals, culprits and militants been allowed to go scot free.
We have seen a former Cabinet minister couriering three hardened terrorists to safety in enemy territory; so that they could pummel us again.
Numbed by the cyclical nature of terror, we have learnt all too easily to stand again, dust our clothes and get sucked into the daily rigour that we call life. We are told some band-aids have been put by the security apparatus, but tumours don’t heal like that. They need chemotherapy – a radical treatment.
The hanging of Kasab is just a small measure. His minders and masters roam the streets of Karachi and Lahore unshackled. Our security nets to detect and cull these imported or home-grown monsters remain in shambles.
I have myself walked into the Calcutta airport without even being asked to identify myself or provide any I-D proof. I have carried a large purse into the premises of a high security temple without being inspected, even though women security guards were deployed for the purpose of frisking and checking all bags.
At railway stations, detection belts have been installed for vetting of all baggage, but coolies offer to help you board with luggage without going through the queue for screening.
We need to wage battles on two fronts. Containing and eliminating the beasts of terror should be one goal; steeling and strengthening ourselves should be the other. The third and more protracted challenge will be to win the battle of wits and mind games - to be able to successfully propagate the tolerant and multi-plural nature of our country while attacking and wiping out the ideology of hate.
With the end of Ajmal Kasab, a small step has been taken. But we must never forget that we remain all too vulnerable. Too safe in our philosophical beliefs that God remains our sole protector. That could be dangerous comfort.
For God also helps only those, who know how to help themselves!