Is this a dagger which I see before me,/The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee./I have thee not, and yet I see thee still./Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible/To feeling as to sight? or art thou but/A dagger of the mind, a false creation,/Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
Macbeth was in a dilemma to kill Duncan. The dagger danced in front of his eyes, or as the illusion took shape, and the handle of the dagger invited him to put an end to what was to be.
The dagger still dangles. Is it illusion or reality? It can be anything. But life dances on the edge of knife, in Meghalaya. “Did you see the blood? The knife was still inside his stomach. The red pool was expanding,” a senior journalist had said when asked about militancy in the state.
“I heard a national news portal saying there was no militancy in Meghalaya and that HNLC (Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council) had signed a peace accord. What are these media houses trying to do? Wedge a dagger into the already sensitive situation,” a senior journalist said as she huffed over a video featuring Shekhar Gupta, the editor of The Print.
“What is the national media trying to do? Make angels out of demons? Make paradise out of hell,” the senior journalist ended with a smirk and refused to talk further.
They surrendered their knives — old and new, blunt and sharp, intentional or unintentional. Their message was, “He attacked with a knife and so we surrender it. Now give justice.”
Former HNLC leader Cherishstarfield Thangkhiew was killed in an early morning encounter. According to the police version, the surrendered militant attacked the raiding team. In retaliation, one of the constables shot at him. It was a fatal wound. It was a fatal morning. And it was planned to be one.
In protest, citizens, including Khasi tribe leaders, laid down knives to send a message to the state government that they wanted justice and not accusations.
A show of solidarity on the edge; the courage of the mass never shown before; the flouting of health protocols never imagined amid a pandemic. The tipping point was achieved. Kanhu Sanyal, the Naxalite leader who killed himself out of frustration, would have been rejoicing at the reactions.
Flip it. It was also a fatal evening in January 2001. Three cops succumbed to the bullet wounds as HNLC cadres went berserk at Kench’s Trace police station. It was a fatal day for a taxi driver who was shot dead by policemen who misidentified him as an HNLC member in 1992. It was also the end of all for the woman who was raped and murdered in Malki.
But no one surrendered knives. No one came forward to point out the wrong. No one offered a rose for a gun.
Fatalities happen. Justice comes at a price. Are you a militant’s family seeking justice or a victim of militancy, disillusioned and discombobulated? Either way, guns and knives don’t stop. Not for you, not for anyone.
Studies may show more than 10% reduction in deaths from terrorism in the last two years, but there are no statistics to show a downtrend in fear.
What if Macbeth had considered the statistics? What if he had been sagacious enough to understand that violence begets violence? What if he hadn’t listened to his wife?
What if they had not surrendered the knives and made those into mass weapons? Would the State be more sincere? Would the head of the State be more sensible? Would Macbeth be a saint?
Knives, guns and daggers. Swords, rifles and bombs. The permutation and combination may differ but the psychology of violence does not change. The process of deliverance of justice does not alter. The State does not cease to be a big brother.
So, what does one do?
One comes together with the many. The many understand the law and take up the weapon that they are endowed with by the constitution of the country to ensure justice. Symbolic gestures do not take the fight farther.
The dagger was in Macbeth’s mind and his hallucinations made the danger imminent. Had he had a clear mind and logical conclusion to the situation, Shakespeare would have resisted from telling Macbeth’s story.
Take the dagger out of your mind. Let the handle go loose. Make up your mind and come together for justice, for this is the time to free your visions of illusions and seek justice for all the wrongs done over the years. Get rid of ersatz emotions and defy oligarchs who are growing their roots in the state and seeking vent through “outspoken” personalities.
Trust your senses and refuse the “false creation”.