Today I was planning to upload some snaps on Facebook but just could not bring myself to do it when I clicked on what my school friend Rajasri Saraswat (Mumpy) has shared on Facebook. I clicked on the picture of Victoria Soto, a girl with blue sparkly eyes and lovely blonde hair, who was a teacher in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. She put all Grade I students in her class inside the cabinets and closets in the classroom. She stood guard, told the shooter the children were in the gym. He shot Victoria at point blank range and moved on.
I was so overwhelmed with grief once again that I just could not bring myself to upload some happy snaps when I thought of those parents out there crying for their lost children. Instead I downloaded Victoria’s photo and uploaded it in my blog and sat down to write my thoughts here.
On social media people have been grieving for the children, teachers and parents of Sandy Hook Elementary school since the incident happened on December 14. While some have expressed their frustration at gun laws in the US, some have questioned why a school teacher felt the need to own so many guns that went into the hands of her deranged son and some have talked about the psychological issues of the American youth that’s ravaging the country.
It is a heinous act no doubt and when there’s children involved you instantly feel a lump in your throat. But I was thinking there are children involved in the war in Palestine and Syria also. Save the Children has declared that thousands of Syrian children will die in refugee camps in Jordan because they just don’t have warm clothes and shoes to wear but not many of us reacted to it on social media. Or for instance some researchers say most children in Afghanistan will perish before they reach the age of five. Because of Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines 36,000 children had to be evacuated to temporary shelters. But right now we are somehow still discussing about the ravages of Hurricane Sandy and how wonderfully US authorities handled the situation.
I was thinking if we are obsessed with the US. Whatever happens there is more important than the rest of the world and we keep talking/writing our opinions whenever, however possible.
But on second thoughts I realized why reaction to what happened at Sandy Hook is so strong. Am sure my friend Rajasri who has a six-year-old daughter going to school in the US, felt the same horror and grief that I, as a mother, a woman, a human being felt as soon I heard the news. School embodies safety for both parents and children if something like this happens there it somehow hits you on a personal level and the tremors upset your entire belief system. After all, like many of us do, parents from Newtown were willing to commute longer and pay bigger to ensure that their children could get a coveted seat in the well-reputed school, thinking it was the best they could do for their children.
I tried to think that I was sitting in my Grade I class in South Point School in Kolkata, India, and some gun wielding psycho walks in. What would I have done? Even worse is, when I think (or refuse to think) that I go to pick up my son in his school and come to know someone walked in with a gun into a classroom? The thoughts are unsettling.
In fact, the realization that it can be a nightmare-come-true is the most horrific part. I understand and identify with everyone’s reactions better now.