“If we are to reach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi ~
It has been several years since I was called to visit Poona, home of Osho and my home for the first 14 years of my life in India. It was Sat. my last evening there and I was out doing last minute shopping. German Bakery was on my list but as I past it at 6:00 in my rickshaw heading for M.G.Rd. it was already bustling with activity. We were held in traffic as I watched pretty young Indian girls carrying their friends on the back of their Scooty’s arriving in their designer jeans, glittering Icon Tee-shirts ,beaming with excitement in anticipation of their evening out on the town.
One especially pretty young woman caught my eyes as she crossed in front of me in her hot pink “Barbie Doll” Tee Shirt flinging her long , shiny, mane of hair confidently over her shoulder. How could I ever imagine the next time I would see her again would be in pieces.
Memories flooded back accompanying me all the way to town. All the plans, secrets, laughter, and dreams we shared there at those same tables over a cappuccino or an ABC juice when we thought better to be healthy. All the hurried goodbyes as we dashed for the bus departing to Goa already afloat with visions of white sand beaches, swaying palms, and good beach parties… the early returning mornings eager to show off our tan and share our countless adventures with anyone ready to listen.
That was the magic of the “Bakery”, there was always someone we knew or were excited to know there to share a few moments of our often too busy lives.
Even on the gloomiest of mornings when we just wanted to disappear into our double espresso it was impossible to resist the wonderful Nepali waiter’s smiles.
On my way back I was suddenly shaken to my roots by an enormous blast that nearly derailed my rickshaw over the bridge. I assumed it was some kind of military test and grumbled on to the driver about how they really shouldn’t be allowed to do things like that as we sat immobilized in a herd of impatient traffic.
When we finally inched our way through to the petrol pump I was certain I would expire breathing a second more of the exhaust fumes and jumped out to walk to the Bakery. People were running toward me waving their arms yelling,”go back there is a bomb!” I proceeded anyway having to step carefully over all the pieces of the roof, wood, tin, and flesh that littered the street 100 meters away.
GONE! Absolutely everything that an hour before had been abuzz with laughter, chatter, meeting, parting,…LIFE being lived to fullest… innocent lives…blown to bits, still burning beyond recognition with chemicals that refused to give up their viscous flames of horror.
We all read it almost everyday;” 50 people killed and 200 wounded in Terrorist Blast that ripped through…….
But those doesn’t tear through your heart with the same intensity as it does when the splinters of wood surrounding you were a stool you sat not so long ago upon.. or it’s the smiling Nepali waiter, or that special Sannyasin friend, you laughed with so often who will never smile or laugh again.
It is not for the dead I mourn here but rather the 58 injured. Better said, burned beyond recognition or missing limbs. It is for the hours, days, months that they will lie in agony praying for recovery as they watch those around them die daily bringing the new death toll up to 17??
As I finally walked away when the last victims were being loaded into ambulances, trembling with a mixture of gratitude for the Grace that had spared me this and feeling the icy grip of terror clenching my heart.
Terrorist :defined as one who instills terror in the hearts of masses.
Yes, they have been very successful tonight. No one of our Sannyasin family will ever feel the same safe and secure, cozy feeling we have felt all these years in our Poona Home.
Hate beyond anything we have faced in all our therapy chambers or pounded out on our pillows has left its bloody mark here. Hate that walked into the bakery filled with laughter, youth, life, hopes, and dreams with the deliberate intention to kill them all..
Did they sit among them; have a coffee as they watched them. Did they bump against them in the crowd: feel their bodies throbbing with life and vitality? Did they look into their eyes aglow with the excitement of the night before they placed the bag of death under one of their tables? Did they perhaps, ask them if they would watch the bag for them?
How can we understand this depth of hate? Moreover, what can we do to stop it?
They weren’t visible monsters. No one even noticed them. They were just like everyone else there except something inside them had been twisted and broken.
Is there anything anyone could have done to prevent it? This is the question that haunts me.
Was everyone so caught in their own little bubbles of their lives to even notice them or feel their presence among them?
What if someone had looked into their eyes with love?
What if someone had gone out of their way to extend kindness to them?
Would it have made any difference? Would they still have been able to carry out their deadly plan? Was it so easy to kill because all were “strangers”?
I don’t have these answers. I face these same questions from my 67 kids:
What can we do?
How can we prevent it happening to us here?
Shall I tell them to live in fear; to run from every bag they see, to never talk to strangers, to close their bubble tighter around themselves when they meet strangers?
My gut feeling is to tell them, rather, to go out of their way to insure that none ever remain strangers. That all who cross our path feel our love and caring in whatever way we can share it.
I don’t believe the Governments are ever going to do anything to change terror other than continue to make it worse. As long as we remain divided, separate, strangers, hate will thrive and terror will feed on it.
Terror can only be stopped one to one.
They didn’t become terrorists in that instant. They had to ride in buses, trains, walk down streets, interact with shopkeepers, waiters,….. hundreds of people before that night.
We may never know why such a hate was there but I believe we are all given many opportunities to make a difference to defuse it before it explodes..
I told the kids to just imagine that every stranger they meet might be a potential terrorist. Something may have happened to turn his heart to stone. You don’t become a terrorist if you love yourself and feel love and connection for others. Now if they meet him sitting next to them on the bus it is their chance to defuse a little of that hate with a smile or just tuning into him and sending him love silently. But don’t ignore him! Don’t close down and withdraw from him. That only feeds his wounds.
When we were in London on our dance tour we saw people begging on the street. Hundreds of people were walking past them mostly ignoring them completely. Every once in a while one would drop a coin in their cup but without looking at them. Then the kids went to them and gave them 1 pound coin. They looked into their eyes, smiled at them, talked to them, telling them they hoped this would buy them a meal or a cup of hot coffee. The people’s reactions were so beautiful. They acted like the kids had given them 1000’s they smiled, grabbed the children’s hands thanking them.
So little goes such a long way to the heart.