I was recently a part of a poetry reading session for peace organised by my father and couple of well known Bengali poets at Bodh Gaya. The poetry reading session was organised in wake of the recent bomb blast that this peaceful city had unfortunately witnessed. On the 7th of July last year, a series of bomb blasts caused immense distress to many and even injured a few. Violence as it is, is painful and dreadful but what came as even more shocking was the fact that terror seemed to have penetrated into areas of peaceful contemplation, otherwise standing for purity and sanctity. Shock, confusion, anger, consternation, were the emotions that surged through the minds of everyone who were deeply disturbed by this act of terror. It seemed to everyone that all hopes of goodness had been lost, all potential for kindness had left the place. Terror had left the place tarnished through its horrific nature.
I went to Bodh Gaya the first time on the 20th of December, subconsciously expecting a mellowed down version of the city, for some reason. Despite the fact that the Mahabodhi Temple attracts pilgrims from all around the world and is a world heritage site, you would expect life to have been going in a slower pace at a place where the memory of terrorism still remains fresh. As I enter the temple area, I see crowd of pilgrims and tourists. Life seems to have moved on. People had smiles on their faces. They loved the ground they were walking on. They revered the land where Gautama Buddha had attained enlightenment. Every one had moved on. We started gathering people for the poetry reading session and soon there were many who joined in the activity. There were people from various parts of the world, with different backgrounds and different languages, different ages and different takes on the same issue. What I found d inspiring was that even though we had different words, our voice was the same. The interest was the same. It was an achievement because wasn’t this the purpose of the reading session? People only want peace. Even in the face of terror, life finds a way. Life is invigorating.
I was genuinely happy and filled with hope for the future. I had realised that the human spirit is not as weak as it may seem. Nothing, not even bomb blasts can crush it thoroughly. The human spirit to survive and thrive pushes through all attempts made to restrict it. Acts of terror can leave indelible mark on the memory of people, can crush the soul, can cause immense distress, but it will never cease to kill the spirit of humanity. The ability to live on, fight terror, survive and the all enduring spirit of the people is what is admirable. This endurance doesn’t mean a passive acceptance. It is rather an evidence of the resilient nature of humanity. It shows that we evolve. There is something innately inspiring about that. That lives on in our memories. That is what makes us so unique. That’s why we’ll never perish. We survive. We thrive. We live.