The terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which ordeal is not over even as I write, is, in my opinion a rude and dastardly wake up call. For Mumbai. For Bombay. That we are world citizens.
The world has changed from even what I knew of it, let alone my elders and their reminiscing. Terrorism is such an integral part of our world sense, it nearly seems normal now. Its happening everywhere. Right, wrong, justified, desperate, its happening. Little children know what it means. I cant recollect perfectly, but I’m sure I didn’t learn the word terrorism till my 8th standard when the babri masjid was demolished and the riots followed. But then too, the word floated on the air like a stray feather never really resting. Slowly and steadily though the paradigms of protest and rebellion changed and morphed into what we know now as terrorism. All this happened and we watched our television screens not really bothered as much about the people dying at the Gaza Strip, Rwanda, and everywhere else in the world actually. We were more concerned about the soaps we were missing because we had to watch the news so as to look updated in our social circles (we didn’t have tata sky plus then).
India experienced bomb blasts, time and again. Now more and more ‘again’. That’s a horrible thing to happen. But it happened and ended swiftly. Only to eventually stay in the memories of those who bore the brunt, directly or indirectly. No faces of Satan, no building of a story. Last night and today are different.
It is a rude reminder to us that we are now more a city of the world than ever before and we will never be able to go back. We panicked as the stories and the rumours built. Walked till we found a cabbie who was thankfully still plying the roads at 11 p.m. in the turmoil. God bless him! We sat through the night as we witnessed hostage situations at this level for the first time. As I messaged everyone I knew to ask if they were ok and offered my home as a respite from the madness I realised the horror of terrorism was too close to home. It had invaded our collective personal space as the Taj Mahal Hotel burned. A lot of the world lives like this it seems. Now Mumbai too will live like this. My friend Sahil, who stays close to the Taj Mahal Hotel, “heard the AKs go rat a tat a tat”. He will never forget the sound though I’m sure he’d have been happy to live with the sound on tv only and not 2 blocks from home.
A girl friend who camped at my place was emotional and melodramatic through the night. I wasn’t. I wondered why. But my first waking scene was of the Taj Mahal Hotel burning. It broke my heart and I realised I was numb. I couldn’t believe this. It was all so unfamiliar, but in places as familiar as the back of my hand. Not even a trip to the agiary helped. Guess God was already too busy trying to help to actually turn and listen while I asked him to go help. I love my home and helplessly watching as some men (young, some of them, as the photos show) with warped goals riddle us with bullets and puncture our relatively safe cocoon is a nightmare that will probably linger.
Nevertheless, life will go on. As I’ve said earlier, [Arzu, should you add a link to my long ago bomb blast article here] human nature doesn’t allow complacency. There’s a phoenix in each and everyone of us and we all rise and walk on. But the scars of these last 20 odd hours will always bring a vacant look to our eyes and a cringe on our faces. We will never be the same again.
Mumbaiites are now world citizens. Welcome to the jungle!