Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Aftermath

It is one week since the ferry disaster, and the tragedy it appears has begun to lose its urgency. The international news networks no longer include updates in their coverage. And the local papers are not finding anything new to say about the disaster. The boat owner’s arrest made people think of ‘divine justice’ for a change but now even that has become old news. It is clear that a month or two later, the entire episode will either be forgotten or will be included as a statistic whenever ferry deaths are mentioned.

But for the two Brett boys who will now live with their grandparents in UK, life will not be the same anymore. At a very young age – only four and two – they lost both parents with the kind of unexpectedness that must seem rather baffling to their young minds. It will take a long time – perhaps never – for them to fully recover from this loss and comprehend what actually happened on that fateful night. And who can explain to those two little girls whose mother was buried in Thailand and their father in Ireland that they will now be living in Thailand with their mother’s sister. Will they ever understand why a strange new country will now be their home? Or will that American lady and the two Indian survivors ever forget the sight of their friends and colleagues trapped in the lower deck and beating the glass compartment without any success?

These and other stories of tragedy, survival, courage and rescue underline an undeniable truth. They indicate that disasters have a human toll as well. It is not just individual lives that are lost due to mistakes made by phoney ship ‘captains’ but their deaths causes a ripple and impacts numerous other people and organisations, too. No one and nothing exists in isolation, and John Donne was right in asserting, ‘no man is an island’ because we can never be. We are all connected by each other and, somewhat, linked by ties of faith, love, affection as well as indifference, remorse, and hate. Loss is felt because it eliminates a certain potential for good or bad. It is felt because it demonstrates the absence of that possibility ever coming into fruition. It is felt because it shows that people are always missed.

But yes, news events eventually get forgotten, and this tragedy, too, will reach the same end as other disasters that once flooded our TV screens and newspaper pages. It will make way for the next big bad thing to happen, and then that too, will make way for another bad thing, and so on and so forth. When the sensational ceases to sizzle, it will disappear. It has to, and it will. The news media lives on a diet of the immediate. What’s now and what’s bad will gobble the eye balls. And if more eye-balls stay glued, the advertisers will be happy and the management will be satisfied. Reflection of past events is not the media’s prerogative, it is the historian’s task to assign meaning and motives to all that happened . The media may, perhaps, offer a better package to the historians in making their presentations, but one shouldn’t expect that. Media will do so only if the past event has some relevance to the present or, perhaps, someone in the senior management feels indulgent with the funding. But otherwise, we shouldn’t expect the media to remain perpetually preoccupied with any singular disaster. It would be na├»ve to have such hopes.

However, people who lose their loved ones will feel the loss for a long time, and long after the media has decided that the ‘disaster’ is no longer the ‘top news of the day/ week’. Like the Brett boys, the disaster will remain an open sore as they feel the absence of their parents as they cope with the difficulties of growing up, of struggling in school, of falling in love, of entering university, of finding a job, of getting married, of entering a career, of just existing without parents. To them and others that lost their loved ones, healing will take a long time but, hopefully, it will.

After all, life has to go on.

2 comments:

freakyTechie said...

Very true, the show must go on, leaving behind the old miseries... forgetting all incidents and accidents, which once had pride to be News of the Day or Week.

sweeleng said...

You left a note in my blog, agree with what you said about leaving in our minds only the good memories of our friends. I too knew Samir but briefly, we only talked for a short while and i found him really friendly and amiable. Too bad the moment was too brief...