Sometime in the eighties, we were staying at Kalyan then, when a young boy who had appeared for his SSC examination died. He died of a prolonged illness. He died of cancer. The deadly disease had seen the young lad’s leg getting amputated. When it became clear that the boy was counting his last, his friends in the lane where he stayed observed a fast and prayed for his health.
But the inevitable happened. The boy was lost to cancer soon. I went to meet the bereaved family. There was silence all over which was shouting the pain felt by his friends and neighbours. Nobody celebrated the festival which arrived soon after his death.
Yesterday we watched a penthouse on the 12th floor of a nearby building getting destroyed by fire, from our apartment on the 12th floor. A boy moved to parapet and then his mother too came there to save their lives. Fortunately they were saved, but the lady’s parents, a very old couple in eighties was lost to fire. Six others were injured. This was covered by TV channels and Marathi dailies, so all were aware of it. There was a large crowd of onlookers, and in addition there were several who watched it from their homes. Reportedly a local MLA’s son appeared on the scene but was shooed away by the crowd.
Today loud-speakers are blaring music everywhere in the lane [some very close to the building where fire accident took place] to celebrate Holi. There is apparently no memory of what we witnessed yesterday – the fire and rescue event lasted three hours!
And that raises some questions:
1 Do children have greater sensitivity than men?
2 Is it that a more ‘homogeneous’ neighbourhood [as it was in Kalyan then] is more sensitive than a ‘cosmopolitan’ neighbourhood?
3 Should we restrict our sensitivity only to events happening in our building or housing society?