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Being Human


Monday morning and I was inside the Delhi metro with my sore leg. I was already frustrated over the fact that I have to cover the distance of 40 stations to reach my destination. The metro was really crowded, it took seven stations to finally get the chance to sit, but just minutes later a girl came and demanded for the seat. I looked up and saw sign with ‘for women’ written over my head. She noticed my sore leg but even then she demanded for it. I requested that she let me sit on account of my leg, but she said, “I will get down after six stations”, the tone was not at all sympathetic.

I was fuming over all this and said many things inside my head and stood with anger till she got off the train.

After six stations she got off the train and laid myself onto the seat. Nobody objected this time. I took out the newspaper from my bag which I kept to in order to pass the one and half hour journey. As I was turning the pages I came across an article describing a horrific incident which occurred in April 1994, the Rwandan genocide. More than million people including women and children of Tutsi community and moderate Hutu’s were killed in a series of mass killings. It all started when the airplane carrying the then president of Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana and the Hutu President of Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira were shot down, when it was about to land in the capital city of Rwanda. The following day Hutus started killing Tutsi people.

The people who were once neighbors started killing each other. Children were beheaded in front of their already terrified parents. Women were raped repeatedly and were infected with AIDS so that they die slow deaths and for this purpose AIDS patients were released from hospitals and were recruited in what was called ‘rape squad’. Some of the atrocities have been even considered to be more brutal than Holocaust.

As I moved past the background and happening of this atrocity, I came across two names, Alice Mukarurinda and Emmanuel Ndayisaba. Alice is the treasurer and Emmanuel is the vice president of the group that helps the genocide victims. Alice’s baby daughter was killed in front of her and her right hand was chopped off in the maniac killing spree. Emmanuel was the person who killed Alice’s baby daughter and took her hand with his machete. Emmanuel in total killed 14 people. He was recruited by the militia and was encouraged to kill the Tutsis. After the genocide Emmanuel was pervaded by guilt. He pleaded the survivors and victims of genocide for forgiveness. He then joined the group which was helping the victims and eventually came face to face with Alice. He pleaded, and begged for forgiveness. After two weeks Alice did the most difficult thing for her to do, and gave Emmanuel the one thing changed his life forever, she forgave him.

In just two weeks, Alice forgave the man who killed her baby daughter and took her arm. Not only did she forgive him, she also attended many programs with him regarding the supply of aid to the victims. 20 years later they are friends and still work together. Not only Alice but whole country has moved past the feeling of anger and revenge and has indulged themselves in developing the society and economy of the country. They have had their achievements to some extent in 20 years. They still mourn the deaths and shed the tears remembering those who lost their lives and soul but they move ahead. They don’t encourage it as an agenda to build politics. They don’t use it as an excuse to point out each other’s drawbacks. They use it as a teaching tool and learn from it to build their country’s future.

Many such things happened in our country too but we have not been able to move past those things and when we try to do so, we are constantly reminded of our misery through rallies and speeches from the Khadi laden intellectuals and some religious police. One might say, how can we forget what they did?

It is not about forgetting it, it is about acceptance, learning and forgiveness. Accepting what has happened brings truce to the fight with ourselves, learning from the past glorifies the future and forgiveness leads us to humanity and peace. Anger is something that leads us to believe only in revenge and nothing else. It takes tremendous courage like that shown by Alice to forgive and be a real human. So who is the brave one? Alice or the one who destroys lives and or encourages other people to do so out of anger?

Gandhiji said “An eye for an eye will only make whole world blind”. Blindness comes the moment you are filled with anger. Only forgiveness and atonement can make the world a brighter place.

As for me, I forgave that girl thirty minutes and one article later.

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