Remember Joginder Sharma’s famous last ball in 2007? Or the Kashmiri boy, Qazi Touqeer, who won Fame Gurukul in 2005? How about the young computer graphics trainer, Rizwan, who ended up dead on railway tracks near Dum Dum? Or the Shivani murder eight years before that? Maybe hazily…for we live in amnesiac times, pockmarked with phases of sensory intensity, as the news tickers strafe our minds. The wish to document every second runs through us like a compulsive obsessive disorder…yet, strangely, our experience of living has perhaps never been as fragmented and elusive as it is now. We don’t see the swirls and indents in our morning cup of tea…unless digitised in our phonecams. Out on the streets, we see people as atoms in motion, non-phrasally, as it were. Bursts of coherent feeling come only on Twitter, with that same explosive T20 brevity.
When did we become what we are now? We have a dramatic, if rough, marker: the turn of the millennium. The more we look at it, the more we see a cusp phase where the old and the new collided. Take two episodes of violence from two decades ago. The villages of Jehanabad then stirred national horror with caste massacres: feudal violence, from an older world. Around then, a Hindu zealot in Odisha’s Kandhamal burned a Christian missionary along with his two sons. A new genre of violence was inaugurated that’s still with us. Difference? In 1999, it evoked collective shame; today it’s a numbing normal.