26/11 – A Personal Remembrance

 

The year was 2006. Place was Pune.

I was a young Management Trainee in an Insurance Company. There was also the football world cup, which may not be remembered for Italy lifting the cup but most definitely for Zidane head-butting his opponent, reasons notwithstanding.

In a day or two, I met few like minded people, spending time with them. One of them was from Mumbai. For a person who neither spoke (still doesn’t speak) Hindi, it was a different experience, getting to know people and placed we never heard of.

It was another day of training and we were back in our rooms and was about to plan mundane for the night – dinner, place et al. A casual turning off the TV changed the day, and I will say, many of my perspectives, forever.

It was 11th of July. That fateful day, when the demon of terror had struck India, again. That tragic day, when the savages of hate hit Mumbai, again. As a follower of daily news, I, like many others, had known about terror attacks as a reader and consumer of news, just that. It was different on this day.

A furious, angry, nervous and restless person was with me and was constantly trying to reach his family, 150km away from where we were. Those few hours was filled with pain, anger again, rage and different other emotions, none of which were good. In the intermittent time when he didn’t try calling, I listened to what he felt – mostly indignant. It was mostly around the theme of – “Its Mumbai again!”

It was also the first time, I believe, I heard someone using the word resilience. That word, it itself, has a positive connotation. But on that day, it didn’t. It also meant helplessness. It also meant our inability to comprehend what had just happened. Most of all, it also meant our impotence as a nation, to stop such carnage.

Days past by and life moved on. That day was forgotten, till the first anniversary and then forgotten again.

26.11.2008

To borrow Franklin Roosevelt, “a date that will live in infamy.”

Televised, multi-day carnage. The city was traumatized again, so was the nation. The whole nation was fixated to the TV, trying to know what was happening and whether it had come to an end or not.

The images of policemen carrying antiquated rifle against terrorists carrying far more lethal weapons are etched in many eyes.

The images of our policemen wearing no great bullet proof vests against terrorists who were spraying bullets are etched as well.

The images of our elite security forces, completing operations, losing a comrade and boarding an ordinary bus can never be forgotten.

It was that time, when the word ‘resilience’ was used again. This time, people wondered how long will it take for the city to be normal. It is funny, certain words with profound meaning can evoke anger – angry at the system, angry at ourselves, angry at our neighbouring country, angry at the world for not helping us and finally, numb and helpless – again.

Let us remember those souls who had to die for us to live in peace now. Let us remember those unknown fellow country men and women who had to die of no fault of theirs. Let us remember that a Jew was targeted in India, for the first time in our history.

Let us also remember that India is a constant victim – not just of our neighbouring country’s scheme but also of global jihad.

Finally, let us remember the kindness and empathy we had to strangers during those 72 hours. And maybe, practice it, again!

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