1

To those who have read Sherlock Holmes, this title wouldn’t be a surprise. However, truth be told, it’s not going to be a rendition of the story that Sir A C Doyle penned down.

We are talking here about the daily civic life here. A daily routine of mundane events. Waking up, heading to work, or school, travelling to and fro, getting back home, and falling asleep.

We live a state of fear today. The fear to say something; to do something as one sees fit.

I’ll take my life in Mumbai as an example. The junction opposite to the main entrance of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park is a big crossing. It is a busy junction with a lot of hustle and bustle all the time. There’s traffic that comes from Borivali (east), the railway station and from either side of the Western Express Highway, and yet, because of the immense thought that has gone into civic planning and road mapping, there is one lane that cuts in to enter into the opposite lane, which causes a traffic congestion.

Time and again I have thought of going to the local authorities. But have I? No. Should their inefficiency lead me to lose my temper, I am fearful. With the authority and the ego that these people bear, it’d be potentially dangerous.

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Activism, open- speech; it is all taboo.

Speaking to anybody, from the taxi driver to the bus driver is rather a tense moment. They’re generally members of Unions and Political parties and the knowledge of their support makes them fearless, or rather, ruthless.

At every juncture in everyday life, one has to think carefully, even if it is to express one’s true opinions. We have many examples, don’t we? Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, Crime Reporter J Dey, and countless more who lost their lives for opining.

I am not making a decision as to the right and wrong about their opinions, no. But in a “democracy”, should opining lead to this end? What we could do is to put our chin to the test and go about doing our bit. Saying nothing; going about our business silently.

I don’t mean to crush anybody’s dream to do well and to excel. But in these state of events, I’d like to be at a mediocre position. Doing well to sustain, but not in the limelight – simply so as not to ‘offend’ anybody, or to get into their way. Stay small. Stay well.

There exist not just external, but internal threats in the country. We’re at peace. But, to me, we’re in a state of a cold civil war. There’s always a fear. Fear of crime; of theft; of inflation; of speaking…

I started with the Sherlock Holmes novel. I’d end with a quote from the same:

‘The Valley of Fear,’ the lady answered. “That was an expression he has used when I questioned him. ‘I have been in the Valley of Fear. I am not out of it yet.’ — ‘Are we never to get out of the Valley of Fear?’ I have asked him when I have seen him more serious than usual. ‘Sometimes I think that we never shall,’ he has answered.”

— The Valley of Fear, Sherlock Holmes, Sir A C Doyle.

Stay safe. This isn’t a criticism. Just a statement of facts. Just… something to ponder upon.