A Strange Encounter: Bin Laden and the Value of Life

Many years ago, I had an interesting encounter. At my workplace, there was this grumpy young accountant who I rarely interacted with. He wasn\’t very social, but was professional while being uninviting. He was a north Indian upper-caste guy who religiously performed puja every morning and came to office with a teeka on his forehead.


It was the day after US government revealed that Osama Bin Laden was captured, killed, and dumped in the ocean. I was at the basin in the men\’s restroom, when he appeared next to me. Naturally, I avoided eye contact and any unpleasant pleasantries. Out of the blue, the gentleman asked me what I thought of Bin Laden being killed.

Taken by surprise, I shrugged. I seriously had no idea what his thoughts on the matter were, and I didn\’t want to get into an argument. I had slotted him as a probable right winger. I guessed he was just going to say something bigoted about a community.

I mumbled something like I need to find out more about it. And that\’s it\’s definitely a big news, etc. etc. To my utter surprise, the gentleman said, \’Ye galat hua. Agar aap jaan de nahin sakte toh jaan lena bhi nahin chahiye (This was wrong. If you can\’t give life, you have no right to take it.)\’

I left the restroom agreeing with him and developing a mild admiration for him for his anti-capital punishment stand. Looking back now, I can see that the gentleman was even more religious than I thought he was. I can imagine now how he would conflate capital punishment and abortion.

Published by Anupam Choudhury

I'm a writer, editor, and blogger from New Delhi, India.

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