Token heroes

We should tell stories. We should all listen to stories–and read them too.

Right now [after reading about the death of the Delhi gangrape student], my grief is a strange object. It has no beginning and it has no end. I don’t know where do I begin understanding it? In my mind, I am apologising repeatedly and then, I stop myself to ask a few questions: Who am I apologising to? Why am I apologising? What must I do post-apology?

I hate these questions because they make me uncomfortable. I don’t like listening to questions whose answers I don’t have. This is exactly why we should making story-telling a part of us.

Stories need to be told. To move people, to make them chuckle, to make them sit up in delight, to make them uncomfortable, to make them question their life as an outsider might do. This is what token heroes do.

I have always disliked the idea of token heroes that our society and media create. Whether it is in the Iranian revolution or the Arab Spring (among many others), I always thought that the token heroes (although unintentional on their part) appear to be the first victims–which they are not. To channel sympathies to one victim also seems unfair when there are hundreds of thousands of people suffering, and many before them who have suffered a tragic end.

I now realise that they are a symbol of a larger issue; they are not necessarily the ONLY story but their narrative is, nevertheless, important. It makes us explore and to understand deeper. I’m not a fan of the concept of token heroes but they do serve an important purpose. What so many rapes did not do, this one has done. She has played her role and now she has gone. The silence is now uncomfortable because we are left with endless questions: how will we cope/deal with what she has left behind? Are we going to pay this narrative forward? Or will we bury these questions in the rubble of many stories in our mind?

We all love stories but we cannot handle an ending that we dislike; an ending that doesn’t meet our hopes and expectations.


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