A man who fought for justice
is arrested and thrown into solitary confinement for seven years. There are
many others also accused of the same crime along with him and given the same
punishment. A few of these others die in jail out of grief caused by
loneliness. They were tortured in the jail for being Naxalites. It is not the
torture that kills them, however. What kills them is their impossibility to
communicate their sorrows to someone who cares to listen. A few others of the
same group are driven mad by loneliness. By their being not able to communicate
their feelings to someone who cares to listen. But our hero survives. He survives because he makes
a friend in the solitary confinement. A squirrel. A squirrel that comes near
the window of his cell becomes his friend. He started by sharing his food with
the little creature. While the squirrel ate the food, he spoke to it.
Eventually the squirrel became a listener. Became a friend.
The man is
Ayinoor Vasu, a human rights activist and a trade unionist from Kerala.
others who were arrested along with him went mad or died in the jail, Vasu’s
survival astonished the jailers. They started observing him surreptitiously in
order to unearth his secret. The consequence of that surveillance was that the
innocent squirrel was killed by the police.
and the police is a different story that is worth a detailed study especially
in India where innocence dies every moment these days. And not in prisons.
My theme here
is loneliness. Loneliness can kill.
Holt-Lunstad, psychology professor, says that loneliness is a big killer. It
carries the same health risk as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, according to her.
We all need
love. We need to love and be loved. We need to hug and be hugged. People who
are incapable of loving and being loved often embrace religious asceticism and
many of them wreak havoc on others with the poison of their impotence to love
and be loved. They make a virtue of their celibacy. If only they possessed the
virtue of love and compassion!
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