I was sitting at my computer, working on a couple of programmes coming up, when I got a call from my husband, Raka. Picked it up to find him a bit on the worried side. He told me that there had been blasts in trains in Mumbai and he didn’t know much, but asked me to tell my mother-in-law not to go to Virar, as she had planned that day.
I put the phone down, and conveyed the message to her, idly surfing Google news for more information. The time of the blasts stopped me cold – my brother-in-law had left for the railway station perfectly in time to be in the wrong place in the wrong time. Worried, I dialled his number. The lines were jammed. My worry mounting, I kept it on auto-redial and it was almost an hour before I got through to him.
He was safe! He had been there when the blast happened, but he was on Platform 1 and the blast happened on platform 5. He returned home pretty shaken up. He had rushed to help what he could, in bringing out people from the compartment. He helped carry around 8-10 people, not knowing if they were unconscious or dead. Some were obviously dead. People walked around in a daze looking for help, wounded, confused and panicking. A lot of the crowd ran out of the station with nowhere to go.
It was over 20 minutes before any help arrived. News channels arrived almost at the same time, speaking of the blast and asking the survivors questions and one of them almost got beaten up for asking the obvious, when he probably knew more than anyone else by now. “If you can’t help because you’re busy talking, then at least don’t interrupt us from seeing where we can be of help”. Everyone had their own priorities, a lot of questions, shock and were on edge I guess.
Meanwhile, at home, the full horror was becoming apparent as the numbers of the blasts grew from one or two to a mind-boggling seven blasts within a span of 11min. The trains are the life-line of Mumbai, and the crowd in the rush hour is only to be seen to be believed. Further statistics came up. The blasts had all been in first class compartments on trains on the fast track.
The blame game started. Everyone who could possibly be related with the blasts was in the suspects list for the police, while the civilians were deciding from emotion.
We came to know that an eighth bomb had been found and defused about the same time as hospitals put up lists of the victims that were under treatment with them. People frantically called up to know if others they knew were safe, while more people lined up at the hospitals to donate blood in this time of need. Later, the hospitals had to send people back, there were so many. People were frustrated, wanted to do something and the only thing possible was donating blood and rescuing victims.
The roads were jammed with traffic, with people offering rides to strangers, even trucks and other transport vehicles pitching in to help people get home – it is no small matter for the bulk of the train commuters to land up on the streets for transport. Meanwhile, residents of the areas near the main roads had taken to the streets offering food and water to the weary crowds trying to get home.
In a couple of hours, the trains were running slowly again (after extensive checking). The railway lines were repaired overnight and the damaged compartments carted off into a yard for further investigations. Today, schools were on, people were back to work, and the trains were running only a little behind schedule.
Long live the spirit of Mumbai. We got back on track as a city faster than it must have taken the terrorists to hurt us. I think this is good that we did not let the shadow of fear paralyze us and reclaimed normalcy ASAP. There were no riots, nothing. Nothing to mark the horrendous acts other than lives lost and lives changed forever – touched by the ugly force of hate.
At a time like this, one looks at the people whose lives were damaged in this happening and wonder how they will get on track, IF they can. I have been wondering about what these messengers of terror want. It makes no sense. Are they so insane to risk their lives and the comfort and honour of their loved ones (if they got caught) for a disruption that the mighty spirit of Mumbai stumbled over, but didn’t even stop for? Hurt a random bunch of people they didn’t know? Just because they could?
I refuse to believe that these chaps never themselves benifitted from the safe and fast convenience of the trains that are constantly there for every one regardless of caste, creed, religion, or even profession (I terrorism would be a profession for some).
I have given this a lot of thought, and it makes no sense no matter how you look at it. People died, but it didn’t damage the service noticeably. The people who died were not anyone with any clout to get demands agreed, nor would their deaths and injuries be remembered by anyone except their families and the injured who lived.
I think that we all have only one life and no spares to count on. It is up to us if we choose to make it worthwhile, or harm victims and loved ones alike with the consequences of our actions.
This terrorism thing is stupid. Helps no one, decays all it touches.