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I’ve realized that most Indians are pretty bad at expressing solidarity or consoling with a deeply hurt, grieving community. We truly empathize, perhaps at a very deep level, but somehow, fail to express it adequately. Today’s #KashmiriPanditsGenocide tweets are a good example.
I’ve noticed most people start analyzing the incident as a means of consoling. They imagine that if you can somehow explain why it happened, maybe the grieving community will find solace because they’d know how not to repeat it. In truth, it doesn’t help because no analysis can.
Others start abusing the perceived wrongdoer of the event. They figure that by expressing the anger that the victim must be feeling, they are in a way venting for them which will help. It doesn’t because it shifts the focus from the victim and her pain to the perpetrator.
Then there are those that can’t figure out what to say, so they say things about how they or someone else helped the victims when the time came. This must be the most irritating of all reactions. Reminding someone of your generosity actually in a way nullifies your good deed.
And then there are those who think that just because they have to say something about the victim or the incident, they start talking about facts or nuggets or politics related to that community instead of consoling or expressing grief.
None of these help the victim and as a result, the victim ends up frustrated instead of getting consoled but don’t get me wrong, most of these people are actually well-intentioned and they did want to empathize and express solidarity. They just don’t know how.
Its possible this is so because we don’t have the culture of “wake”, a Western/Christian custom where people gather to mourn/remember the departed and console the family members. Hindus usually bawl at the funeral and then quietly suffer through the rest of the pain.
Even the pain of a death is not easily forgotten or replaced with happy memories of time spent with the dead, like they say in the wake. With something like an exodus where the trauma was so prolonged and painful and continuous, it is even harder to express or deal with.
I feel that this expressionlessness is also because we all have civilizational memory of similar pain that it affects us at such a deeper level that we can’t find words… At times, we just want to cry with them but we don’t know how because we never acknowledged our own pain.
Anyways, I just want to say please. If you wish to commemorate the #KashmiriHinduExodus and u dont know how, then just patiently listen to their stories and quietly say a few kind words and cry if you feel like at their pain. They may not see you crying but the Gods will.
Accept that you cannot by any means, in anyway lessen their pain. They go through hell living through those memories but they willingly want to because they don’t want to forget. Memories, painful as they are, is all they have.
Help them tell their stories. Help them retell those stories to their future generations. Help them build memorials, museums, make videos, write. Give them a chance to tell their story. Don’t interrupt or analyze. You don’t even need to respond. Sometimes silence is the best way.
Let them make a 100 movies, help however you can. Watch all of them. Take your kids to those movies. Don’t let the world forget. These retellings won’t be perfect so don’t correct them, don’t embellish them because they will be their memories. This is all they have.
Hope this helps reduce the needless fighting that ensues and helps people understand and empathize with each other. Otherwise sorry to have wasted your time.
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