24 January, 2021

The Red Slayer

Stephen Alter recounts the horror of being brutally attacked in his own home

The Red Slayer
Recent events have proved, yet again, that our human capacity for violence defies the boundaries of imagination. For me, the horror of the Mumbai massacre brought back echoes of a personal experience of traumatic violence. This past summer, my wife Ameeta and I were attacked in our home in Mussoorie. Four men, who have yet to be caught, stabbed, beat and smothered us, then left us for dead. While no comparison can be made between our attack and the scale and terror of the Mumbai killings, in my mind it confirmed the potential for brutality that each of us, as human beings, possesses.

Perhaps the most unnerving aspect of any form of violence is the sense of estrangement that follows an invasion of identity. Mussoorie is the town I was born and raised in, yet the attack made me acutely aware of being a foreigner. The hospital we were treated in was mobbed with friends, neighbours, childhood companions. Still, there remained an inescapable sense of alienation. As the police officers began their investigation, the line-up of suspects included...


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