Monday, December 01, 2008

For those nights of Trauma: Mumbai 26th November

It is as if the whole event has been imprinted on my mind. The reel plays again and again. I could not believe it in the first go. When I heard the news that gun shots were fired near the Taj, I brushed away the news as exaggeration. On the pillion seat of the Royal Enfield, as I rode back with H to Grant Road, we heard a noise. It was far away and so I refused to acknowledge it.
When I got back home, I switched on the TV. They reported a gang-war amongst some Nigerian drug peddlers. A shoot out at Leopold. A shoot out at Leopold?! That is some five minutes away from Mondy’s, the place I would have been at (in all imaginable and unimaginable possibility) that evening, if not for A being stuck at work until so late. “It will be late and we won’t get a table…” A had said. But the gang-war seemed a credible analysis. Afterall Leopolds’ was the place where foreigners flocked for all meals (and conversations).They played a drum-roll sort of music and the dim lighting always gave it the ideal fitting into Shantaram-like novels.
But the news continued to follow the trail. Leopold, Napeansea Road, Vile Parle, Santacruz, Taj, Oberoi, Cama Hospital, VT Station and Nariman House – explosions and shoot-outs continued to wreak havoc in my city. The news channeled flashed images of people lying about on blood-splattered tiles, vehicles twisted out of shape, horror-struck faces with tears running down numb cheeks and men in olive-green uniforms trying to gain control of the situation. The news strip continued to mark the rise in number of deaths – an ACP, the chief of the Anti-Terrorist Squad and another senior police officer were all killed in one shot at the first go. The names didn’t sound familiar – no memories of even having read about them in the newspaper, but I watched their funerals, their families and stories of their bravery with a sense of familiarity.
For three whole days my television was on. Even while I travelled from Mumbai to Pune on the eve of the last evacuation operation by the National Security Guards, I constantly kept in touch with people seated before their televsision sets, trying to remain with the scenes and the situation. I felt as though I was leaving my city at a time when it needed me and so even when I returned at 11pm on Sunday night, I drove into South Mumbai and walked the deserted streets near gateway, the by-lanes behind the Taj, where Bade-Miya was still serving sheek-kebabs; a lonely Leopold CafĂ© which now stood shutters-down and the Oberoi –Trident couple still stood up high, even though the window panes of the lobby were shattered. Mumbai, the city that never sleeps, was not asleep even today; but in fact she was waking up very early, still groggy. Candles blinked along the streets and small groudp of people stood silently, some with cameras, some with their little children and some others with flowers. I hadn’t brought a candle, but like many others I scrounged the small lit-up squares for a candle that had extinguished or probably fallen over. I could make it stand again; I could make it bright again. What a blissful feeling.

Those three nights stole Mumbai’s joy and spritely charm. A bunch of innocent killed a mass of innocent. I can’t help but feel bad for the terrorists, even as I cheer the soldiers who put up a skilful fight. For what fault of these young boys were they brought to a point to “kill unto death.” These boys were just like you and me, of an age where we are on that threshold of life where we begin to question what we have been taught and learn to distinguish between the right and the wrong. But unlike us, these boys didn’t have the time to learn, to question to verify or to rebel. They just had to prove – prove to themselves and to those who taught them that they were worthwhile students. To me the situation was as simple as this: their teachers capitalized on their age, the emotional phase it brings with it, the surge of rebellion and ambitiousness that overwhelms everything else.
It was a similar phase for the boys from the National Security Guards too, don’t you think? They too prove to themselves and to those who taught them that they were worthwhile students that they had applied efficiently each bit of what they had learnt. They were congratulated and hugged, drowned in cheer and appreciation for what they had accomplished.
Neither of the boys have any regrets.
They all came face to face for a cause. Each one had his own motivation and reason to be a part of it. For the lives that were lost as reason for these causes and for the minds that did not have chance to think, to feel to voice, I hope that the circle completes for them – through the thoughts and voices of those who survive them!


Anonymous said...

I can see why you sympathize with the terrorists, assuming that they may be victims of circumstance or upbringing or brainwashing. Yet, I can't buy that argument. You could say the Holocaust was a result of brainwashed soldiers, or 9/11 a result of brainwashed men...but it does not vindicate them. Does it?

It was a terrible tragedy. I don't think they deserve any sympathy.

K?K! said...

i empathise with you... definitely. they don't deserve sympathy, but yes they need to be dealt with in a different way. killing them is not a solution - it just makes us stoop down to their level for the revenge.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, well, that's quite a different issue altogether KK :(
Killing is wrong. It doesn't matter who does it...touché.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how the terrorists can be called innocent. These people didn't come to kill for money or fame. They came to kill. They came to provoke. How that is innocent, I fail to understand. Killing them in return isn't revenge. It's to show others like them that we can fight fear with fear. You kill our people to scare us/others, we kill yours for the same reason. It's to show their teachers/whoever the hell they are that we're not afraid of them. And they deserve more brutal and humiliating deaths than any that they have caused.

Anonymous said...

Yes, they are the products of an unfortunate childhood.. but at every point in a person's life.. there is a choice of how he/she deals with his/her misery. And no, joining a terrorist organisation isn't the solution.

K?K! said...

I understand the fury in your sentiments. but killing is not the solution to conflict. that murder does happen in the process of conflict is inevitable. but a man will die a hundred deaths if he is kept alive and made to watch and suffer the consequences of a situation he himself created.

And ofcourse we are not scared... everyone knows that, or else nobody would have been present there yesterday at the peace march, where people gathered in lacs to make a point.

Anonymous said...

"but a man will die a hundred deaths if he is kept alive and made to watch and suffer the consequences of a situation he himself created"

I disagree with you on this kalindi.. if that man was out there to kill people and if he shown that people have been killed, wont it make him satisfied that his "mission" was a success? People like those should just be killed, and not in one go.. they should be made to suffer the pain of each and every one they killed and left to die..
its time to send a strong message to who ever is creating these "young brainwashed soldiers".

And you need to stoop down to the level of these low pathetic people to get your point across. Its high time we stop expecting them to rise up to our level. They cant. Its beyond their mental capability to do so.


As the Mind Meanders said...

You looked at the situation objectively.

And your empathy for the "boys" is not likely to be popular. But it takes courage to stand by an independent view point.

Big Respect.

Can I just ask you write a little more often please...

workhard said...

Honestly speaking..the tv channels did a pathetic job of telecasting the Mumbai blasts.........

Work from home India

K?K! said...

@the mind...
u seem to have blocked ur blog.
"entry" i would plead