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home > News/Analysis  > Archive: Selected Analytical Articles  >To Bhaijaan, with shame By Dr. Satchit Balsari

To Bhaijaan, with shame
Dr. Satchit Balsari (*)

    At the outset, I would like to clarify that this apology by no measure is meant to soothe your open wounds or undo the grave damage done or belittle the colossal wrong we have done you and continue to do as I write.

    But I apologize nevertheless for the blood on my hands.

    I apologize for a society that under the guise of revenge, reveled in plundering neighbors, and murdering friends.

    I apologize for a society that stood around to watch the dignity of your wife and sister be repeatedly ravaged and for a society that did not balk at this;

    I apologize for a society that felt no remorse at burning your children, and cutting open the wombs of women to burn children yet unborn.

    I apologize for a society that made your mother watch all this

    I apologize for a people that rationalized its inhumanity effortlessly. I apologize for being part of such a society.

    I apologize for having elected a government that turned against the people it had pledged to protect.

    I apologize for a society that lauded its government when it did so.

    I apologize for the police forces whose keeping I pay for, that held you down while civil society plundered the loins of your home.

    I apologize for a society whose men in municipal office had pledged to serve you, but marked out instead your homes, so none would be spared by chance.

    I apologize for a government that watched your ruin nonchalantly, shrugging it as the inevitable.

    I apologize for electing a government that governed the systematic destruction of the signs of your existence.

    I apologize for a society that desecrated the shrine of one god in the name of another.

    I apologize for a society whose women teetotalers made Molotov cocktails and whose servants of God brandished swords stained with the blood of your children.

    I apologize for a society that circulated pamphlets instructing your ruin, when there was nothing left to destroy. I apologize for a society whose soul has blackened and conscience has died.

    I apologize for doing nothing. I apologize for not protecting you. I apologize for letting you die. I apologize for watching you die ensconced in my safe home.

    I apologize for having lost without having tried. I apologize for having lost faith in faith, and hope in hope. I apologize for having accepted defeat. I apologize for a nation that betrayed you.

    And though I weep with you I will never feel the sorrow you feel, and though I cry out with you, my rage will not match yours.

    But the one thing I share with you, is my absolute sense of homelessness. For I have, just as you, no where to go. I have no home to return to, for that was not the home I left. The society I had left behind died the same day you did. The people are unrecognizable, their deeds unfathomable. With your children, went my childhood, with your home, went mine; without your footsteps, the roads are eerie; without your mosques, my temples look sinister, and without you, went my identity.

    You lie today, in graves and among graves, and the entire city wears a haunted look. You lie in silence, but your silence is loud. Your ghosts will haunt the demons who butchered you and those who stood by muted.

    Your children will look at our bloodied hands with fear now, but rage tomorrow. They will not suffer the indignation of their mother, like we did today. I apologize for this society that robbed your children of their innocence for they worshipped the wrong god.

    I will not ask for forgiveness for I deserve none. I will not ask that you look at me, for I can look not myself the eye. I come to you Bhai jan, to hang my head in shame.

    -sat chit

    This was written in May 2002, in Boston, by an Indian Hindu Gujarati student who watched helplessly his home defiled forever.


    Dr. Satchit Balsari, MBBS, MPH
    Research Associate, Program on Humanitarian Crises
    Harvard School of Public Health
    Boston, MA 02115