"How do you remember 26/11?" - a journalist was asking for a quote for next day's edition. What a ******* question I just said to myself. Can any sane Mumbaite forget the day? Every Mumbaiker remembers this day even if they do not want to.
Ask any one in Mumbai a peon, clerk, a banker, hotelier, a mathadi kamagar, a beggar, a politician, a film star....... and there is a story.... hidden deep down the bosom ... never meant to tell.. never meant to be remembered..
My husband returned early from a wedding function without waiting for the dinner party. I was very tired and went off to sleep early. As I opened the door half asleep.... he announced "I think there is a bomb blast in the city again. Go off to sleep." I was very sleepy and said " oh no! not again and crashed on the bed. I was assured that my loved one was back home. But I was not aware the city was bleeding profusely once again. By early morning my friends and family had begun to call frantically to check if we were fine . I started television set to check out whats going on...and watched for next 3 days without blinking....
Next 60 hours I watched carnage... as if I was watching a game being played... I saw people being shot at... helicopter being flown in and commandos marching in . It was all game .. It was all in the game. "Don't watch this..... this will only hurt you more "... my husband would scream in between but I was too numb to listen to him. I thought I was watching a game being played ... narrated in the fashion of ball to ball commentary... making it a exciting watch. And I was waiting to see the sign "GAME OVER"
And finally it got over. 60 hours later. Many people had died... People whom I knew. and whom I never knew. Everything had quietened... fires had been doused and bullets had fallen silent. Now the pain began... with those flashing images of baby Moshe.. CST carnage... Metro bullet showers... people ducking, crying running, and falling.... things seemed real...
I watched, heard and listened.
Storied of shame, stories of blame, and stories of games people play.
Next day I just went back to my routine.
Library, college, studio, grocery shop, bank ...
I talked nothing, said nothing and spoke nothing.
Just looked around and saw people moving like any other day. Everything looked normal. everything appeared normal. There was no sign of pain anywhere. There were no whispers of pain or shame. Nothing! Only television channels talked about tragedy.. but no one seemed to know or understand what they are talking...
Mumbai was back to business and television jounos applauded the spirit of Mumbai.
what a city? I said to myself
This city knows how to hide pain. Hide it so well that no one knows the word pain. as if this word has been deleted from the Mumbai's vocabulary.
So when someone asks me do you remember 26/11? I just smile and say whats that?
Because I know not what is pain ..