I have a little confession to make.
At 7:18 pm on 13th July I got an sms from a former colleague asking if there’s a bomb blast in Mumbai. I had barely walked into the house so I rushed to the television and switched it on. I saw what I had to see and then sent a text back, confirming her news.
I sat down to watch…swapped channels furiously…and as I kept doing that, a strange concoction of fear and relief trickled into my heart. I had just returned from the New Delhi Railway Station…a crowded melee of people…a site perfect for mass destruction! I was gripped with fear that I was so close to a vulnerable spot in the heart of the Capital and thankful that I wasn’t in Zaveri Bazaar!
But it doesn’t end here…
I followed the news closely for the next hour and half. Read the twitter updates, tweeted my own. Changed my BBM and FB status updates. Sent urgent texts to my closest pals in Mumbai confirming their safety and then settled back. By 9 pm I had wiped my dinner plate clean, changed, put my feet up and made myself comfortable to watch “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” on HBO!
I knew what to expect. I didn’t need the television to tell me anything! This ‘blasted’ day would be abbreviated into our memories as 13/7. The bloodied Mumbai story would be plastered all over, mutilated visuals would burn the television screens, the Chief Minister would offer compensation for the dead, some lofty Ministers would visit the blast site and when the tamasha would get unbearable, politicians would begin the blame game! The next day, we would talk of the ‘Great Resilience of Mumbaikars’, some people would hold candle light marches, several press conferences would be held, emotions would fly, the dead count would increase, human interest stories would be talked about, the investigation agencies due to lack of obvious ‘intelligence’ chase their own shadows and then…we would move on!
We’d forget it. Only the person who has lost his loved one, or is left maimed for life would truly remember this date for all his living years.
A few years back, barely two months before the unforgettable 26/11,Delhi had its own date with terror – 9/13. I was benumbed. Scared. Angry. Hurt. Two months later, I saw the Taj burn. The emotions were heightened!
Today ’31 months’ later, the great Indian Government has been able to secure our country from any major terrorist attack. Thank you so much. Except the unresolved case of the German Bakery blast in Pune last year,Maharashtrahas been secured. Mr Home Minister says that he is assured by a ‘resilient’ Mumbai. The Prime Minister unsurprisingly hasn’t found any words to express his regret for the blast. The Prime Minister-in-waiting has said that 99% of terror attacks have been averted! So what do we do? I guess, bend down on our knees and say a thank you!
Mumbai is now the ‘terror capital’ of the country!KarachiandKabulhave become first cousins! I don’t know what to make of this. But dear terror mongers, please spare the city alone!
Mumbai is as resilient as any other city in the country. Pick any given day, before a festival being the best, plant a bomb somewhere, see it mutilate a few more bodies and count the dead! The next day, the rest of the survivors would get up from their beds, read the morning papers and leave home as usual. The poor, laborious Indian has to earn his bread and butter. A bomb blast is hardly the kind of viral disease that will keep him home! Imagine calling up your boss in the morning and telling him, “I’m taking off today. There was a bomb blast yesterday and I am scared to go to office!” I know my boss’ reaction if I were to say that!
Our Ministers would never know this ambivalent state of mind…of being fearful and fearless every day of our lives.
For now, I am comfortable with my indifference. A bomb blast raises by blood pressure, I am angry for a while, I absorb the deadly details and then move on…I have settled with the fact that if I don’t die of disease or old age, there will be a bomb planted somewhere that will end it all for me.