Letter from Paris (Part 2) – Esther David

Death…we all deal with it in different ways. Here, in Paris, after the terrorist attacks and after the names and stories of those who died emerged, we realized that most of them were young people. There is no chest beating, no wailing, no lamentations, but a silent stream of people standing in silence at the sites of the shootouts, which are not cordoned off. Tears flow, but are immediately wiped away or hidden behind dark glasses, as the police personnel stand on guard around them. The flowers offered at these sites, as memorials to the dead never wilt, as new bouquets are added everyday, candles are lit and messages left there. The newspapers publish portraits of the dead. The Eiffel Tower and monuments from some countries were lit up with the colours of the French flag. A friend from New York sent me a link of the choir of the Metropolitan Opera singing the French national anthem.. Some school girls expressed their shock, protest and anger by making an installation of three brassieres with the colours of the French flag. A week later after the attacks, at 9.15 p.m. people were out in the streets, bonding with strangers, in a show of solidarity. The last victim was identified as a 17 year old girl, whose father had accompanied her to the concert at the Bataclan concert hall and lost her there, only to receive her body much later; for her funeral. A homage to the dead was paid by president Francoise Hollande in a moving ceremony in the plaza around monument of Invalides. We choke and hear the names of the dead, mostly young people, as their loved ones break down in their interviews to the media.

Every single person seems to be making efforts to lead a normal life, even if there is a slight sense of fear and suspicion as one walks in the street, being in an enclosed areas, just sitting in the sun having coffee in a café, although the police and military constantly patrol the streets. And, as they say, violence is infectious, the sudden explosion of anger during the Climate Conference proved the point. In such situations hope for peace is the only solution.

Part – 1

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