My sleep drenched hand searched for the TV remote. As i absorbed the images. numbed for sometime,i took in heavy heaps of air, as much as my lungs could fill. I distinctly recall the slight quiver in his voice. And the tremble in my heart.
‘Is there anything that i can do ?’ I asked. He replied in the negative and hung up. It was an uncomfortable call.
‘Is there anything that i can do?’ is the question that stayed with me through the night as i shifted and turned uncomfortably.
After a stern night, i wake up early, switch on the TV, only to realise that night might have been over. But ‘stern’ was far from. I decide to step outside home to gather some fresh air. Not great dare devilry but just a walk within the precincts of the apartment complex.
At the entrance, is the security guard. Actually, an ordinary middle aged man, wearing an uniform. Nothing more. A gent who chats up rarely, but watches carefully. I doubt if he is trained on combat or whatever. But he still is there.
On other days, i greet him. Today, i walk past. My mind absorbed with the images on TV. I stand there and look into the sky, to ask ‘why’.
Today, he tells me as i step out : ‘Take care. But do go out. I am here to protect. Nothing will happen.”
I look at him for a stupefied second. I think : Forget RDX. This gent wont last a ricocheted bullet from a pistol. But that didn’t stop him from saying what he did. And doing so, held my attention. It seems that i don’t have to look any further for answers to the question that kept me up for most parts of the night.
My eyes moisten, and i tell him, ‘You take care too’. He nods his head.
We stare at each other. We are just two plain men. With a shared skyline, a wounded psyche and a determined spirit. The silence lingers for a while. His presence comforts me. In the ordinariness of his form and but the power of those simple words that touch me. Just letting me know that grief was not mine alone. He was with me. And so were many others.
Many hours later, i am at home. Wielding the remote. Jumping from channel to channel. Rejoicing in small mercies and wallowing in a strange syncretic grief. Offices have been declared closed today.
My hair is disheveled with hands running through them as i answer calls and watch TV. My heart is at multiple places. South Mumbai. In the shoes of all those held hostage. In the pall of gloom that would pervade the homes of slain police officers. In the anxiety of friends and relatives of people close to action. And so on.
I write. And that appears to resonate with people like Sundar, sitting many miles away.
And then, the doorbell rings. Breaking the footage monotony of policemen, rabid media & gun shots. I wonder who it could be.
I open the door, to find the courier boy delivering mail. A trifle surprised that this mail delivering was happening as the city was held to ransom, i collect the mail. And just as i am set to close the door, i tell him, ‘ Take care’. I swallow hard.
And he stops. A trifle surprised. Lingers for a while and states with a nonchalance of a commando.
With a straight chin, a fulgent gleam and a young mind , he speaks. ‘Nothing will happens sir. We just need to be more careful. And besides i have mail to deliver & much work to complete. I cant be afraid of these people, sir’.
I keep staring at him. As he disappears into the lift.
I close the door with a strange resolve. I switch off the TV. And open the laptop. And begin work. I am a Mumbaikar. I am Indian. I am a citizen of the world. I am not going to be cowed down by terror.
I know we will get them. I know we will win. At the nucleus of that victory will be this spirit. This spirit of labouring on, spreading the message and just going forward immaterial of whatever happens.
And friends call. There seems to be a resolute need to do something. And their anguish spills out as war crys and oaths, strange resolutions and ideas emerge. ‘Form vigil squads’. ‘Learn martial arts’. ‘Basic weapon training.’ ‘Spreading the message of love’. ‘Lets galvanise action and people’. ‘Lets blog more’. Etc. Etc.
I realise, ‘ I want to do something’ seems to be a core message. There is an educated mass, able, willing and wanting to do something.
Somewhere between the resolute yet concerned quiver of the first call, and the spirit of the security guard and courier boy, and the anguish ridden restive energy expressed by fellow men and women : i realise, that we need to carry on with our work, yet seek out and do what we can, in our spaces.
We are hurt. And perhaps bleeding. But still not dead. Never will be. The soul is new. And tomorrow, when the same sun lights a new dawn, and when we get back to work, we will not be wallowing in questions of ‘why us’.
It rather will be ‘From here, where ? How ?
I seek your help. We seek your ideas.
9 thoughts on “My day today. When Mumbai was beseiged.”
It really is very very sad to hear news on Mumbai. Hope and pray that they are able to capture those terrorists!
Have to be very alert!
Good to hear you are alright. When I read your blog,I thought of The Old Man, in The Old Man and the Sea, when he says, ‘A man can be destroyed but not defeated.’ I was in exactly in a same sitution, when they bombed London. They wanted to leave a ‘burning cross’ in the London Underground, they said later. I heard the news, the sirens of the ambulances, the commotion of a whole city running amok. Watched the parents,friends of the victims in tears,endless eye-witness accounts, and the umpteenth expert’s opinion, with a burning helplessness. And the next morning, something in me wanted me to take the Tube to work. There was only a fraction of the normal population. There, in the Underground,I saw your courier man, your watchman, going to their workplaces, with a singular look of determination, of collective defiance. Such is the spirit of great cities. It can be destroyed but not defeated.
Oh, Kavi, how horrible.
I returned to my home today, post-Thanksgiving Day gathering, full of food and family, to hear the news of the chaos in Mumbai. My heart goes out to you, and to India. I’m glad you are safe, my friend. I feel ties to you and my other “blogger friends” in India — as I do with my friends all over the world – and send you my very best.
You have my help, my brain, my words, when you need them.
Your best yet. My salutations.
The Bhagvad Gita says :
nainam chindanti sastrani
nainam dahati pavakah
na cainam kledayanty apo
na sosayati marutah
The soul can never be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can he be burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.
We all ought to be like the immortal soul in the mortal body. Our resolve should be such that we can overcome all these obstacles which the faceless, illiterate jokers place in our path.
I’m not yet sure of what path to take to counter such problems in the future, but rest assured I shall either come up with something or fully support any initiative which others come up with.
Hope things get better soon. Called Kamal to know your whereabouts, but there was no answer. Is the number changed?
Gald that you and your circle are safe.
Shocking & Disturbing.
We have started with condemnation. Let us shout hoarse – from the roof tops, literally scream. Some one some where will hear. It will echo, resonate and then we will have a lot of such irrepressible voices – nobody can contain. We will create a movement which will be unstoppable.
Let’s seek in our own humble ways, begin with protests, go to the newspapers, go to NGOs, go to other blogs but remain undeterred.
Gather like minded people and rally around the slogan against terrorism, and enable Bharat Mata to free herself from this disease which, if we remain quiet, will fester and devour us and our future generations.
I am with you. There are many more educated folks around the world who are helpless in such times. We should try to spread good thoughts, deeds and action to whoever our enemies are. Even, I have seen people carrying on their routine in tubes in London, after the traumatic incidents which happened. The perpetrators try these sort of things everywhere. They need to understand that killings and blood shed is not going to help them. If they could think they will not do this. Our only job should be to make them think.
Hope atleast few of the so called fanatic leaders of every state in India read this post and hear your voice.
I somehow thought you were in Bangalore… Good to know you are alright
I shall not talk about the Mumbai mishap, not cause I dont have anything to but I dont want to express it anywhere for some reason. But appreciate the way you have written about it – it brings a lot of feeling I cant explain.