A private hospital in Kolkata is issued a warning by the fire brigade to clear its basement. Months pass by. Nothing happens.
A fire starts in that basement. The television channel crews arrive. The newscaster keeps saying “Jaise ki aap dekh rahen hain… as you can see.”
Yes, we can see.
The fire brigade approaches the building. Billowing smoke makes the approach difficult. Hydraulic cranes move in like slow moving sauropods. One firefighter is standing on the crane beating against thick glass with what looks like a wooden plank, trying to break it. The camera focuses in on him. He doesn’t give up. Neither does the glass.
The camera moves to the shocked tear-stained face of a middle-aged woman standing outside. Some people who were going to the market in the morning have stopped in their tracks. There are news-crews, curious onlookers, politicians, and policemen.
Some men are now inside breaking glass to release the smoke. To let in air to those who were hooked up to oxygen cylinders.
Word has it that when those who were well enough to move suspected something was amiss and wanted to escape the hospital, they were asked to pay their bills before being allowed to leave. At least they had a choice. That is more of an option than what bedridden patients had.
There is anger. In the past, indignant crowds have vented frustration. They have beaten up doctors. Because grievously injured doctors take better care of their patients. They have blocked roads. Because creating roadblocks is the best way to ensure the sick get to hospitals on time. They have set fire to public property. Because burning down buses is the best way to ensure nothing else burns down again.
The government will blame the management. The Opposition will blame the government. Heads will roll. Arrests will be made. Buildings will be required to comply with fire ordinances, or else!
Or else, what?
We always need a tragedy for nothing to happen.