My house was burgled yesterday. Writing a blog post about it seems like an absurd reaction. But, compared to other reactions floating around in my head, this one is the most sane.
It was like any other day. My wife called me just before reaching home. She was on the phone as she climbed the stairs. A daily affair. Then she shrieked. The door was wide open, the broken lock had fallen on the stairs. She walked across the terrace and found the main house door open too. I asked her to remain on the phone and get some help before entering the house.
But it was too late. The house was ransacked and burgled. Our safety bubble had burst. The thief had gone straight for the bedroom and took whatever little valuables we had. My ten year old laptop and my wife’s jewellery. Over the next few hours, the neighbours came. The police came. Then officers from the crime branch came. But we feared what’s gone is gone.
My house was now a crime scene. We were victims. After a life of struggle and small winnings, the victim tag didn’t sit too well with my idea of the self. There is only way one stops being a victim, may be, two. One option is to forgive and thereby forego the difficult feelings. The other option is to take revenge for the violation.
The first option required another birth as a better human being. The second option involved heroics that in normal life seem quite farfetched. Without a culprit, there was no revenge. Even if the police got hold of the perpetrator, as a violator of social norms he becomes a criminal of the larger society. He does not belong to me.
Quite logically, it seemed to me, I should be allowed to do with him whatever I please, the way he did with my house whatever he pleased. The legal system, I belived, took away from the victim the agency of delivering justice. The crime may not be self-inflicted. At least, the justice should be.
I have spent a day quite convinced that the Saudi Arabian legal system is the most apt. If your ethics are less than human, let’s take a limb out and make you one too. A public hanging and stoning etc seemed as remarkably effective ways to assuage personal anger and social helplessness. Punishment is seen to be meted out, the victim has a hand in delivering the punishment and justice is done. What could be wrong with it?
Something must be. It never seemed so right. But I have not been thinking right. Victims never do. Even if I would never agree to being called one, the changes in my thoughts prove that I have just become one.