Bombings cannot become accepted events

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It’s in the headlines all the time. We see it, we read it, and we move on. It’s just another piece of news. Why should we spend more time reading about a bombing in some foreign country than reading about the next football game? I guess not everyone does this, but a majority of us do. I have been skimming and ignoring such terrorism-related news for a while now. In fact, I tend to look at the headline and first figure out how many fatalities there were. Four dead? Well, that’s not too bad, right? I mean, we’ve had terrorist attacks in which many more were killed. What difference do four more make to the ever-growing list of innocent people who lost their lives in such attacks?

It was with this attitude that I read the news of nine deaths due to a bomb blast in a small café in India. Nine, I thought, that’s not such a big deal. India’s seen worse. And then I read the name of the city where it happened. Pune. My hometown. I read the name of the café. The German bakery — a place I’ve passed a number of times and heard friends telling me I had to go to because of the great food. I never went inside, and I never will be able to now. I sat staring at the news piece incredulously for a while. This was the first time that something like this had happened in Pune.

Here’s some background info that will help you understand my disbelief. Pune is a sleepy city. Especially when compared to its neighbor, Mumbai, Pune is more of a town than a city. Most shops in Pune close from noon to 4 p.m. People need to eat lunch and then take a nice nap. The streets are either filled with a number of small colleges or are taken up by cafés and restaurants. For a typical “Punekar,” life is all about eating, sleeping, eating, studying a little (if you’re a student), and sleeping and eating some more. It’s a great city and a great life, and you can probably tell why. Now imagine a bomb blast ripping through one of the city’s prized cafés and breaking the serenity of this perfect little picture. Disbelief? My reaction exactly.

After the disbelief had faded, panic started creeping in. My parents usually never go to that part of town — would they have gone there today? Were my friends safe? Once the panic had completely settled in, there was the frantic search for the list of the dead — I wanted to make sure I knew none of them.

It was a small bomb blast. Nine deaths (although the number rose to 17), and I cared. I cared a lot. I went on campus after I read the news article, wondering why everyone wasn’t as upset about the situation as I was. I realize now that I cared because it happened in the city I grew up in and love — why would anyone else care as much? But at that moment, I wished they would. I wished others would understand that bombs in cafés aren’t everyday things.

It’s been a month since the blast happened and it has made me understand that for every such situation, there is somebody out there who does care; that somebody probably also wishes that you would care about it. It’s not possible to be as moved by the situation as someone who has personal links with it, but it is possible to give such happenings a little more thought than we do now. It is possible to at least try to care, to at least read through the entire news article on the subject, to at least realize that this is a serious matter. Bombings aren’t normal, and we should stop treating them as if they were.