KATHMANDU, Oct 6: I do not read newspapers. I get my daily updates of news from various ‘other’ reliable and unreliable sources – that includes Facebook, micro-bus chit-chats and fragments from the FM during the ride, serious conversations of elders, and comments passed by shop-keepers.
It may probably be a sin at this day and age to declare that I do not even flip through newspapers but I decided to come clean for the sake of those who might be closeted newspaper non-readers; who are struggling to keep up with social conversations about politics, economy, environment, and most probably, if they are like me, going through guilt pangs of being ignorant and indifferent.
I heard about the recent plane crash from my mother! She makes it a point to watch all the Nepali news channels during the day. When I come back home, she is always ready with one or the other news that shocked her.
This time around, I had no clue what had happened until my mother told me about the crash; and then Facebook friends started to share images of ‘a fake bird’ and R.I.P status updates for the people who lost their lives.
I did not know how to respond. I have had conversations with a friend of mine about the number of plane crashes Nepal has seen. Once he mentioned that every six months, there is a plane crash in Nepal. I could not believe the statistics. No one cares, or if they do, the voice is never heard.
Investigations blame a faulty bird, a foggy day, a fierce wind, and what not. What remain, perhaps, unquestioned are issues of maintenance and quality of the airplanes, trained and experienced pilots, passenger limits, and various other issues that could have been avoided.
It is unnerving to think that the passengers actually paid for a ticket to death – literally. While my father, mother, grand-mother, and I huddled in the TV room, my mother breached the topic of the crash.
I said, “I can’t imagine what the passengers must have felt when they came to realize that they were about to crash.”
My father replied, “I heard that the passengers were shouting from inside the plane.”
Something curdled inside me; it was like the mere act of imagination spurred images and sounds – fragmented movie scenes of plane crashes, strange faces that my subconscious has stored, and sounds of screams – that left me with a jarring moment of depression. I cannot imagine; I cannot place myself in their places; I cannot bear to think about it without feeling guilty about thinking about it.
I wanted to cry. This is one of those times when I feel completely out of control. I do not know what to make of things; like accidents, and death.
Could the plane crashes have been avoided? My heart, sorry for sounding polemic, but really my heart says it could have been. All those crashes could have been avoided.
All those buses crashing into rivers, all those people starving to death, all those patients left unattended, all those girls sold to brothels, all those boys in the streets, all those aged people abandoned – if everyone cared enough, all of these could have been avoided.
One of the reasons I stopped reading newspapers, or did not bother to start the habit of reading one, was because the way it makes me feel about things in Nepal.
I will start reading newspapers the day they begin to report news of ‘real’ transformation: where “development” is not just a word but an action, when news of Nepal will make me want to buy all the newspapers clipped onto the shutter’s edge from my local stationery shop.
Naïve? Yes. Impossible? No.
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