All of us have seen, read, heard about the ghastly attacks and time and again it makes me want to talk...talk about making a difference, not about who is to be blamed, who is at fault. I feel as citizens of the largest democracy, we need to balance out all that freedom with some commitment and duties as well.
On a personal level I was fighting an emotional battle...now that I am back to KL, and having to fend for myself physically and more so emotionally, I found myself draining off all my energy and the emotions that were sent away to a locker located deep inside my heart are suddenly surfacing and are demanding their right to be heard and to be dealt with.
It was/is this emotional battle with myself that has been keeping me busy and not in the 'mood' to write. I spent a lot of time reading what other people are blogging about, how they have something nice to always share with the audience. I was trying very hard to get back into doing the same myself, but I needed a push...and boy what a push I got....
The 3 days that we all saw bruised us all, the news reports, the reactions that people had...all were just and worth a read. But somewhere I wanted to read something reassuring, something that said to me "we can always make our tomorrow better". Being the eternal optimist that I am.
I chanced upon this article written by Chetan Bhagat. It made me feel OK. I hope you find some solace after reading it.
Sick of screaming anchors, gory visuals, and tired of well-meant calls, Chetan Bhagat took a walk to the Trident
I had to get out. I had to do that walk to Trident. It was Friday evening. I didn't tell anyone at home as I left my apartment at Mantralaya. I took the short walk towards Marine Drive, passing the homes of politicians - the powerful people who run this country.
I had in my house an acquaintance who had been rescued from the Trident. I wanted to talk to her, but she had to rest after two sleepless nights. She had a flight to catch, to get out of this country we call home. I was sick of the screaming TV journalists and the gory visuals. I was tired of the well-meant text messages, calls and emails that came from around the world - "r u nd family ok?" Physically yes, mentally no way. I replied to all of them, thanking them for their concerns.
I wanted to get away from two questions the most. The first kept coming from our friends in Hong Kong, from where we had moved earlier this year: "So why did you move back to India anyway?", I got asked five times a day.
The second came repeatedly from my 4-year old twin boys: "Daddy, why do we have holidays?" I had no good answers.
I reached the barricades at the LIC building, where vehicles had to stop. I walked ahead and reached the Air India building, the closest point that the security forces allowed us near the Trident-Oberoi hotel.
Four sets of people were present. First, the truckloads of army men, ready to go in and face death if required. Their camouflage uniforms and grass-covered helmets were more suitable for jungles in border areas than downtown Mumbai. They were the only hope that this crisis would end; the only hope that a few organisations in India still work.
The second group was the media. I recognised a few cameramen, as I'd seen them at my book launch or at the premiere of Hello. Today, they weren't scrambling to get a byte from Salman.
Their shocked zombie eyes tried to zoom in as much as possible on the stillness of the two white towers. We watched the various rooms, each a tiny fishbowl of humanity. It was the most luxurious and scariest prison in the world at the moment. Unlike TV, there was a tremendous silence as there were no voiceovers.
The third set of people, the most heartbreaking, were the relatives of people stuck inside. They stood helpless, with no reliable information as they called hospital after hospital. They latched on to hope and energy, which dwindled by the hour.
The fourth set was clueless people like me. We didn't know why we were there. It was dangerous, we were not directly involved, and all updates came on TV anyway.
Still, I had to come, maybe to get away, maybe to assuage a bit of guilt at being safe, maybe to show defiance.
The army trucks drove in for the final encounters. I looked again at the two five-star hotels of my poor country. We don't have a lot of these. Still, someone out there has a problem with us having a few world-class symbols of progress. Someone out there doesn't believe we deserve a peaceful country and a city where work actually gets done. Someone out there feels heroic in crushing a billion people's spirit.
I looked at Marine Drive. The queen's necklace looked beautiful on an unusually clear night, except that there were no hand-holding couples sitting on the promenade. Love had taken a backseat as my country dealt with another night of hate. I and the others gathered looked at the fishbowl windows again. I felt my eyes well up. Because of this tragedy, someone had the audacity to question my decision to come back to my own country. I felt terrible. I walked back home, taking a last glance at a set of relatives who had sensed the inevitable but were yet to acknowledge it.
I dropped off our guest at the airport. We stayed silent throughout the drive.
I returned home at night and slipped into bed with my sons. Their child-like stubbornness was making them ask the same questions again and again till they got an answer.
"Daddy, why do we have holidays?" said one.
"Daddy, why do we have to stay inside for so long?" said the other. I had to answer.
"Some bad men are trying to hurt Bombay. They are outside so we stay inside," I said.
"Who's going to save us? Which superhero will come," said one.
I paused as I looked into their little, sleepy eyes.
"You will. And that is why you came back from Hong Kong," I said as they drifted off to sleep.