Next February will be 25 years since the Nellie massacre, when over 3000 Bengali Muslims were slaughtered by a group of Assamese speaking people. Though those riots during 1983 were primarily targeted against Bengali Muslims, Bengali Hindus were also targeted and we could hear several stories of roommates in hostels killing one another. I, though very young at that time, have clear memories of that night when there were shouts on rumors that a gang of Assamese were attacking our small town where Bengalis were a majority. I still remember the war like preparation in our house and our neighbors, the fear and the anxiety.
And now I wonder how much hatred can one store for a stranger so that one feels that urge to kill him just because he belongs to a different race or class and to want to wipe his kind out of existence? We don’t mutilate the slaughtered bodies of chicken or lamb, neither do we torture it before its death; how much hatred does it take to do the pull out the nails of someone from our own species before jugulating him? What allows us to walk around in front of our mothers or wives after having erased for eternity the happiness of the mothers and wives of those we have slaughtered? For how many days are we satiated after we have raped the women from our hated category in front of their bound sons, husbands and fathers before killing them one after one? How meaningful is the time we spend while we supervise our enemies digging their own grave for them? Where do we sell the fingers we have chopped off from the stranger’s fingers, the nails we have pulled from his toes, and the eyes which we have dug out? Does our food taste better the night we have erased the history of a village with its blood? How many days of happiness have we secured for our progenies as we kick around the babies whose parents we have slaughtered? How beautiful is the sight of the houses and shops as they burn from our wrath while their owner’s heads lay around in the mud below? And that sight, of the moment when we have our sickle raised and about to strike the neck of the stranger we hate so much, our eyes burning with hatred, his eyes tearful and large with fear; when does that sight come back to haunt us?