The Roar of the Mighty Mouse
When I read the absolutely thrilling account of how police officer Kimberley Denise Munley gunned down Major Nidal Malik Hasan during the infamous blood bath at Fort Hood, my hair stood on end. This was not just a demonstration of raw courage, but an exemplary display of ace professionalism. Munley’s presence of mind in the face of grave personal danger must be commended by people across the world. A diminutive (5’ 4”) mother of two, Sgt. Munley followed what is called the ‘active shooter protocol’, when she spotted the deranged, cold- blooded killer brandishing a pistol and chasing a wounded soldier outside the building. Responding to a police alert of gunfire at the centre where soldiers are screened before being sent overseas, Munley did not think twice before she rushed to the spot, even though she was off duty and just taking her car for repairs. Reacting modestly to the praise being heaped on her after the rampage, she said she had received specific training to handle this kind of a situation.
Well, it’s one thing to receive training, quite another to implement it during an emergency. Her grandmother confirmed Munley’s love for her work, and Munley’s record shows she joined the police force after years in the army. She ( like Sarah Palin!), is passionate about hunting and enjoys other outdoor sports. But through this single act of extraordinary bravery, Munley has inspired countless individuals to put their own lives on the line when faced with a dangerous enemy killing innocents.
Recently, in the Kashmir Valley, we witnessed similar outstanding guts shown by our own desi Mighty Mouse – the fearless woman who picked up an automatic weapon and gunned down militants, thereby saving not just her own life, but the lives of other members of her family. It is another matter that today, she has to live in dread of vendetta and the threat of revenge killing by sympathizers of those she shot. Even so, she remains unbowed and fearless as ever. One on level, I am filled with admiration for these female warriors, but on another something inside me says, “ Oh God!! There is enough violence in our world. Do we need women to add to it?”I know this is old- fashioned, gender- specific thinking. I realize I’m falling into the stereotyping trap. But seriously, there are times when I ask myself whether women’s lives today are being rewritten and redefined in ways that are not in the overall interests of humanity at large. Perhaps we are being forced to play or adopt fierce, aggressive roles that are reshaping our essential selves. I look around me, and see so many female gladiators in the corporate space clawing their way to the top. I read reports about women in their thirties dealing with premature menopause, or even younger women in their twenties who are finding it hard to conceive because their hormonal levels have gone berserk. Sure, some of them are super successful and leading lives their grandmoms could not have dreamed of. But they are also dealing with biological issues that did not touch their grandmoms’ wombs.
Chuck Medley, the director of emergency services at the base has described Mighty Mouse Munley as “absolutely a hero.” Well earned praise. But I can’t help looking at this grim scenario from a slightly different perspective. When Munley’s little girl( who is all of three years old now), grows up and hears about her mother’s incredible derring–do, will she perhaps wonder, “ What if mom had been killed? Did she not think of me at that moment?” I know this is silly. Children of great military heroes ( mainly men) , must feel the same way and ask themselves identical questions about fathers they’ve never known. But as a woman, much as I love my fellowmen, much as I care…. I get the feeling I would think of my children first, weigh the odds and only then pick up that gun. That is why I’ll never become a Mighty Mouse. My fate is to remain Minnie!
Spent a wonderful afternoon addressing the women ( and a few good men!) from Central Railways on the occasion of their 'Women's Empowerment' week. The function was held in the auditorium at the CST , Mumbai's heritage station, which has become world famous after the terror attacks of 26\11. Walking past the crowded platforms, my hair stood on end, especially while listening to repeated announcements about unattended parcels. Even though the announcer's voice was calm and matter of fact, the warnings were serious and deadly. Naturally. Given what innocents endured that fateful,dreadful night. I met the motorman who was on duty when the terrorists walked in. He is from Orissa and proud of it. I met four smart , young RPF ( Railway Police Force) constables - three of the young women were from West Bengal, the fourth one from U.P. This is Mumbai. A microcosm of India. Of course, it belongs to everyone. I am not a cricket fanatic.But thank you, Sachin. It needed to be said. Loud and strong.