As India woke up to the news of the hanging of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunman of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008, citizens, especially Mumbaikars and those who experienced irreversible personal loss during the attacks, were again forced to deal with a mix of strong emotions that resurfaced. There was hurt, anger, grief, disgust, sorrow, and now, after hearing of the news of Kasab’s hanging, maybe relief.
The 24/7 breathless coverage of TV new channels repeatedly mentioned the concept of ‘closure’. Kasab’s hanging, they suggested, would make the kin of those who lost their lives in 26/11 find at least partial relief in the justice they believe had been served. One such survivor of 26/11 said on national TV that she “erupted with joy” at the news she woke up to, on Wednesday. She was happy and wanted to celebrate, and then she broke down. Had she found her closure?
Although Kasab is the face that came to be associated with the enemy who perpetrated the terror attacks on innocent Mumbaikars for four relentless days, it’s difficult to imagine that the families of those 166 victims, and many other survivors, would be hinging on Kasab’s fate to deal with their own agony and hurt. Four years is not a very long time when it comes to dealing with the loss of a loved one. But in four years, those who were affected would have taken their first steps toward healing and moving on and away from the painful memories of the attacks. So did Kasab’s death bring relief and closure?
Closure is usually a process, and hardly a one-time emotional investment that improves a situation. The mixed reactions of the kin of victims and survivors of 26/11 suggested that they were all at different stages of that crucial process of closure. Those who invested emotionally in Kasab’s trial and felt that avenging him would bring them peace may have experienced the most relief on Wednesday. But those who disconnected themselves from Kasab’s trial and dealt with deeper spiritual issues of forgiveness, compassion and love tended to speak of the larger problem of terrorism and how Kasab’s hanging doesn’t end the problem.
That said, all of us have our own unique mechanisms to find closure to situations that are beyond our control, and to which we have no choice but to accept and move on. Some of us secretly expect an apology though we may say we don’t. Those last words of Kasab promising in the name of Allah that he will never do such a thing again, would have been like a flood of relief washing their troubled souls.
Every one of us finds a spot for emotional and spiritual closure in which we release the pain and toxic memories that prevent us from forming new, positive relationships. We unload the burden and set ourselves free. We can do this by asking for forgiveness, or by forgiving or by coming to terms with a difficult situation through constant communication. We know we have found closure when we remove ourselves from the process and let fate decide the future course.
In doing this, we end the cycle of karma related to that event. To many Mumbaikars and Indians, Wednesday was perhaps the day a karmic cycle ended. It might have also brought them closer to their goal in the pursuit of emotional closure.