26.11.2008 – A Painful Reminiscence

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26.11.2008

Etched on my heart, for all the wrong reasons.

I still remember that gruesome night. I was a kid, 15-year old, with an elementary understanding of the surroundings and the world. Never in my life before, had I seen or heard of such a horrendous incident. For me, the world was a rosy place, with robbery being the most atrocious crime. The city was a playground, with at the most “no-chocolate-from-a-stranger” rule attached to it. I had heard of terrorism, but what it actually meant I didn’t know, until the night of 26th of November, 2008.

Blood splatter at the heart of Mumbai – Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus ‘CST’ railway station, the classic Leopold bullet attack, the roaring blasts in Mumbai’s iconic kali-peeli taxis, the fuming flames at the majestic Taj Hotel, the hits and misses at the royal Oberoi Trident Hotel and the 3-day blockade at the ill-fated Nariman House.

Too much to gulp down in a single breath.

To top it all, while the clock was ticking down, Mumbai was losing its heroes, including the Chief of Anti-terrorism squad itself! Young, old, pregnant, physically challenged – all were killed, without any second thought. The sound of grenade blasts, gunfires, bomb blasts, ambulances, cries and moans of the injured filled the air of the city and the loud silence of fear and dread enveloped the entire city.

That night, Mumbai bled & every Mumbaikar weeped. Mumbai was tormented & every Mumbaikar bore its scar, some visible till date. The world slept, but Mumbai lost its sleep.

I was so scared that even sleeping next to my mother didn’t help. I couldn’t sleep at all, because the slightest sound of almost anything would startle me & get me thinking of a possibility of onset of terrorist attack in my area! That was an awfully frightful night, to the extent that I, now 25 years old, still get goosebumps at the very thought of it!

Terrorism, I understood, is a state of mind.
They scare you, and you get scared. This is terrorism.

Remember the bullies who bullied you in school? What did you do, back then, to get rid of them? The solution was pretty simple: either complain to the teacher or fight off those bullies with the help of your friends. We never gave up hope of living just because of those bullies; instead we always thought of ending the oppression.

Ever wondered that terrorists are just a gigantic version of the school bullies?

Then why do we give up our hope of living while facing them?
 Shouldn’t we fight them off with all our might & conquer them?

That’s exactly what Mumbai did!

While on one hand, the city was losing its children, on the other, new heroes were emerging – right from the railway announcer who saved scores of life by using his presence of mind & making an announcement to evacuate the station from the safe exit to the constable who sacrificed his life to get the terrorist – Ajmal Kasab – arrested; from the hotel staff at The Taj & Trident to the firefighters who rescued hundreds of lives using nothing but ladders! A group of 200 commandos did wonders by storming into the terrorists’ den and saving lives of hundreds in the hotels.

After three days, the fight was over. 
166 dead, 293 injured, and countless minds (including mine) affected by terrorism!

Moved by the brutality of the attacks, I wrote a poem back then to express my feelings as a 15-year old; surprisingly (& unfortunately), it still stands valid today!

TERRORISM

Gone are the days of joy & happiness, 

And in have stepped the days of terror & darkness.


What a wonder it was before,
When no person meant terror,
When the world was fairer,
When happiness was prior,
And terrorism was minor.

But now everything has gone away,
And everyone is in dismay
Now, terrorism is in sway,
And everything is its prey.

The world has become a sad place,
Where peace & quiet are erased,
Where people are in a confused maze,
And where terrorism, behind men, is in its never-ending chase.

Today,                                                     
The wave of anger,
The wave of fear,
The wave of danger,
The wave of tear,
                                                 has wiped the earth.

Not a single soul is in peace,
As the world just awaits ease.

The people just wonder,
The people just think,
The people just dream,
As to when they will be free.

Gone are the days of joy & happiness,
And in have stepped the days of terror & darkness.

 

*For those want to read in depth about the unfortunate terrorist attacks on Mumbai, please head on to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Mumbai_attacks

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