By Noshir H. Dadrawala
I had flown in from Hong Kong around 4:00 a.m. on Wednesday 26th November and had planned to leave for Sri Lanka the same night. I had broken journey in Mumbai only so that I could attend the new Parsi Punchayet Board’s meeting with Mr. Nusli and Mr. Ness Wadia. I left Neville House around 9 p.m. and went home for a quick bite before continuing for the airport. As I was about to leave, news about the terror attacks began to filter in. Initially it looked like only two of Mumbai’s best hotels in South Mumbai were under siege. But, soon enough there were reports of two blasts in my own neighbourhood in Mazagaon. The taxi that blew up in Andheri was reportedly headed for the International Airport. My travel program reluctantly had to be aborted.
Most of Thursday was spent glued to the television. It was heart wrenching watching the Taj hotel billowing thick black smoke and the leaping flames menacing around the grand dome. Even more heart wrenching was the sight of blood and destruction at Café Leopold owned by family friends – the Dehmeries. Images of many a memorable party that I had enjoyed here with good friends began flashing through my mind. I have always described Café Leopold as a Happy and Happening place. But what happened on 11/26 was far from happy.
Material destruction can be compensated for and even rebuilt. But, alas, what about the loss of innocent lives? Can that be compensated for? Can the dead be brought back to life? Whose war are we fighting? What has Mumbai done to deserve this?
And where, pray where, were the defenders of the ‘sons of the soil’ when Mumbai’s sacred soil was splattered with the blood of its innocent sons and daughters?
Yes, I know I am asking too many questions – some rhetorical and some just too uncomfortable. But do we really have answers? I don’t know.
Today on Friday, 28th November I am at my office since morning. Most offices are working but with thinner attendance. Most people are still in a state of shock and disbelief.
I was not born in Mumbai but its the city I grew up in. It’s given me good education, a wonderful career and lots to feel proud about. I love my city very much and therefore I consider all this loss and destruction too personal.
The Taj Hotel and Colaba is situated less than a kilometer away from my office. As I write this, the terrorists are still holed up there and my coming to work today is a symbol of this city’s resilience. Yes, Mr. Terrorist, you have tried to scare me and the rest of the citizens of this great city. But NO, we are not scared.
Yes, Mr. Terrorist, you have succeeded in getting me and everyone else very angry but scared – NO! It’s business as usual and while we mourn for our dead and despise the destruction you have wrecked, we resolve to rise like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes to live another day and face the challenge.
And, Mr. Terrorist, you and your group have been cowards, attacking innocent and defenseless people. You have won no great battle. No medals await you in this life or the next, though you may have been brainwashed and assured about the latter. Of course, you will personally come to know more about this fact when you get there and it’s going to be sooner in your case than most of us, Mr. Terrorist. Those who live by the sword also die by the sword.
In conclusion, Mr. Terrorist, I dare say, the average Mumbaikar is a braver and greater soldier than any one of you. You may be trained as Commandos for Carnage but we have been trained to be Commanders of our own lives. We command care and respect for our fellow human beings. A pity no one ever cared nor will ever care for you, Mr. terrorist!
Yes, indeed this great city shall bloom again. But you, Mr. Terrorist, are doomed!
Rest in Peace Mr. Terrorist and let us live in Peace!