Yesterday was my birthday. And it was a day when Mount Everest shook. Literally.
Even though I wanted to spend this day with happy thoughts and warm wishes from my family and friends, I couldn’t help but think of the 1,000+ poor men, women and children who perished in Nepal and India.
Three years ago, around this time, 1,200 poor garment workers were killed in Bangladesh. That day, God shook too.
I am not a religious person, and never believed in God as a savior. God has never saved the poor and destitute, ever. But as someone who believes in human spirituality, I also do not want to contradict the beliefs of millions of them out there who have nobody but God to turn to, especially in times of disaster: man-made disasters such as the Holocaust or mass rapes in Bangladesh or genocide in Rwanda, wars in Vietnam or Iraq, famines such as those in Bengal or Sudan, or natural disasters such as earthquakes in Haiti, Gujarat or Nepal.
Some are man-made disasters such as deforestation in the Amazons or Sundarbans, followed by massive, natural catastrophes.
I have never seen God in a savior role to save these countless poor, helpless people to live, with rights and dignity. Still, because I have no power to help these poor people, I have no right to take away their faith in some unknown, supernatural powers who they believe will save them from destruction.
Mankind has not progressed intellectually on this front, and just like economic inequality, intellectual inequality has also become wider. Only a handful have progressed. The rest are languishing behind.
Let there be equality, and let there be education and enlightenment. These are my birthday wishes this year. Thanks for listening. Thanks for reading it twice. It comes from my heart.
If I were in Nepal today, I would go from neighborhood to neighborhood, and organize search parties to look for surviving victims. When I was a teenager in Calcutta, I took part in donation drives for flood victims, and collected rice, dal and clothes, walking with friends across neighborhoods. When I was in high school, I went to India-Bangladesh border to work among war-torn refugees. Short stints of voluntary work I shall remember all my life. Life was more meaningful and rewarding then.
Now I do things that are probably still meaningful to others, but I don’t get to see the reward. I can’t touch it. If I could perish for a cause, and see it happen, I would die in happiness. But I have no means to make it happen. They say, put yourself together and find peace. But I’m not the peace-finding type. I am the idiot who dwells in restlessness, and agonize to see apathy, ignorance, indifference and inaction.
And thus ends another birthday, in relative meaninglessness, and perennial void.
Mount Everest shook yesterday. With such a sky-high void in human compassion and intelligence, is it going to crumble? Is such a historic disaster going to happen, in my lifetime?
Oh God, where are you?