In Remembrance: Mumbai, 11/7

On 11th July 2006, I was on one of the trains that was attacked in the Mumbai Terrorism Train Blasts. Re-posting below my account written a day after, as is.

This is in rememberance and gratefulness. Time heals, but does not forget.

 

~

Good Earth

 

I have conveniently borrowed this title from a friend’s display name on msn, much to his disapproval. But I have a fetish for sarcasm, and this works for me. You see, good earth, it is.

I took the 5:50 Churchgate – Borivali train with a friend yesterday. We were tired, and clambered in, once the rest of the crowd had hurried in for a bit of place to sit. We took our usual place near the door, plugged in our earphones, and made little conversation. There were far too many sweaty, oversized, middle-aged women around us, and like I said, we were tired. The wind picked up a little, as the train gathered speed, and in the seats behind me a bunch of women were celebrating a co-passengers birthday, with cake et al. My friend alighted at Bandra, I just hung up on the cellphone with my driving instructor, and moved closer to the exit. I couldn’t wait to get home and use the swimming pool, talk to a friend or two, and get done some work. But, that was all to change. Within a few moments, I heard the loud sound, that’ll probably stay with all of us who heard, for a long time until, tomorrow.

At the exact moment that I heard the sound, I was listening to Sting’s “Fields of Gold” and reading a friend’s text message. I was thinking of happy things and love. In retrospect, it would’ve even been a perfect moment to die. Forgive me, if i had to die, I’d want to die, happy.

All I really saw, was the woman in front of me faint, almost fall of the train. In words of stammer she said something about bodies flying. And me, with the deafening sound, I really did think the train was going to be on fire. And I didn’t move. Funnily, so. We helped the women who fainted, and chaos prevailed. The train authorities screamed to us to stay on, the passengers were pulling us off. I took a hand, I’ll never see again, and jumped off onto the tracks. The women around me were crying, I was alone, and no one had any idea what was happening.

And then, I saw two compartments away from mine, the Gents First class. Roof burst, broken windows, blood and gore. But what’ll stay with me, is the image of men flung to one side, struggling to come out. The singular image of a bunch of people in the wrong compartment at the wrong time, pushing for thier lives. And voices screaming for water, help, sirens, ambulance noises, kindly people from the nearby slums. I eventually made my way on the tracks, with a few people, managed to get a rickshaw and reached home three hours later, from a place thats normally half an hour away.

All I really did was give a few people a ride. In retrospect, I wish I’d done more. Instinct then, however, only told me to run. For life. I didn’t get in touch with anyone until half an hour later, and by then my body was shaking. It never really did stop, until much later at night.

I came home and saw the full impact of all that happened. It sickens me, but what puts me off most, is gibberish about the resilient Mumbaikar. If only we had a choice. If only the people who fanatize their religion, play political games, and dictate our lives gave us any choice. We still have our money to make, our college to go to, and you ain’t going to fuckin come do that for us. We’re not even asking you to, but why go screw it up in the first place. Hell yeah, we’re strong, who gave us a choice.

And the good mumbaikar, we hold you high in our eyes. But the bad Mumbaikar? Who stripped the bodies of every gold chain, piece of money, and clothing? Who crowded the decaying bodies in dingy rooms? Piled for people to sift through like yesterday’s vegetables. And those men and women with their words of wisdom?

Thank-you. Thank you very much I say. We’re still going to take that darned train, and fight for one inch of space in that over crowded compartment. You killed what little innocence, we had left. Oh and, put some fear into our mundane everyday-ness. Thank you. It’s a good fuckin earth.

 

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