It had become a circus—cameras and mikes being thrust in boy Moshe’s face; Baby Moshe held tight in Nanny Sandra Samuel’s arms during the gruesome 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, cherubic wailing face, vividly etched, I should think in our collective consciousness. So the two-year-old baby, who had lost both his parents in this satanic ambush, now returned to India as an 11-year-old readied to visit his home in Mumbai alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and unveil a Memorial to honour the 166  26/11 victims.

When our own Prime Minister made a trip to Israel last July, Moshe Holtzberg was flanked by both Modi and Netanyahu where his visit to India was fast-forwarded, a ten year multiple entry visa granted to the 10-and-a-half-year-old where he read out from a sheet of paper, a scripted short and sweet message: “Dear Mr Modi, I love you and the people of India.’’ On this occasion, I believe, he was informed that when the Israeli PM made a trip to India, boy Moshe would be accompanying him.

A little overwhelming—intimidating one should assume—for anyone, especially a small boy, who, as a baby was found drenched in the blood of his mother and father, to be whisked out of the bullet-riddled bloodied walls of Chabad House by his nanny. The lady says she paused for a few seconds to fish out the infant’s doll, his constant companion, before bolting outdoors to what was deemed as safety. Two days later, he, securely enfolded in Nanny Sandra’s embrace landed in Israel where she stayed on to “mother” him till he was six years old, one learns. The initial snapshot questions on hand, to be followed by more, and so half-pence for the possible answers: in the mêlée that followed Moshe’s Bharat trip with both sets of grandparents and two paternal uncles in tow besides half a dozen others, one is notified that the boy bears no memories and thus no scars of the trauma. His Counsellor has given him a clean chit. Possible?! The 11-year-old, with his head as clear as a mountain stream, knows that he would follow in Papa Rabbi Holtzberg’s footsteps and become a Rabbi returning to his Nariman House. Possible?! And why ever for did the Nanny leave him four years after that horrific day to take up employment elsewhere, as a care-giver to other children. A little premature, one would think?! (Here, of course, it be a family matter so it would be overstepping to ask Moshe’s Nani-Nana.) Any answers, however, faint?! Now to pigoe across all the visible corners, with questions overcrowding the mind, authentically hoping they shan’t just disappear down the plughole without getting some thought-through answers.

Moshe, fine, he has no conscious or subconscious memory of the bloodbath, and so is a regular pre-teen lad and thus requires no future-proofing since he carries not a remnant of what occurred.

In the Mahabharata, Abhimanyu learnt the art of warfare ensconced in his mother Subhadra’s womb when Arjuna explained the inexhaustible intricacies of battle to his pregnant wife. Subliminal Consciousness. As a consequence, he was able to take on Stalwart Yodhas and would have emerged victorious had he also listened in on how to get out of the Chakravyuh. The unconscious is conscious. However, no need to dip into such lofty illustrations. When one goes into the maternity ward of a hospital or a nursing home, the walls are lined with posters of gurgling bonny babies knitting the heart with love hitherto unknown. Why?  To make the wannabe mum or mother-to-be joyous—the feeling gushing down to the unborn baby. The outcome: a happy pappy baby. The doings of the conscious subconscious—imperceptibly palpable. What to me feels like a lifetime ago, my dearest friend Meeta, who had not a “sporting-bone” in her body obsessively took to cricket. (Still waiting for an answer to this one…after all, I still could imagine her to be hooked to BBC, though never saw her one to reach out for the newspaper!) She also happened to be expecting. In jest, she in passing, mentioned that the child would grow up to be a cricketer. That did not exactly happen but her boy played cricket in school and beyond, much to the chagrin of his mother because the bat took precedence over books. “What goes in, comes out”, “As you sow, so you reap”. These are no old wife’s tales.

Returning to Moshe, fine, he has no conscious or subconscious memory of the bloodbath, and so is a regular pre-teen lad and thus requires no future-proofing since he carries not a remnant of what occurred. That is the consensus looking at us levelly in the eye, correct?! Pardon the form of speech but the thesis goes down like a bowl of cat-sick, to be truthful. However, would someone please throw light on the following: why was the poor, dear child paraded around like a Mascot of Indo-Israel Resolve?! His Shalom…Bahut Khushi utterance wolfed down as a sound byte?! He being exhibited, displayed, aired as a common bridge to march forth, and on, by both India and Israel? He becoming a road-sign, a placard, a poster for Jerusalem’s gash, the brunt of the bruise, perpetrated on Indian soil via the Arabian Waters?! Thus putting a name to a perceived common enemy? Moshe morphing into Merchandise. An un-airbrushed Poster-Boy to forge a united politically fruitful agenda…

Will both Nations, as well as his paparazzi pampering patrons, come to an Aha moment, and let Moshe  just be?!

Dr Renée Ranchan writes on socio-psychological issues, quasi-political matters and concerns that touch us all


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