Five years ago now.
Yet, the wound of 26/11 still lives in us all. We think back to the day- to the waiting, the fear, the horror, and we are reminded of what terrorism really means. How close it can really be.
I wrote this article five years ago, and even now it gives me the chills. What has changed? How far have we come? I really don't know.
Until today, we, the residents of South Bombay have lived in a bubble of security. Whilst the rest of the city has endured the piercing pain of terrorism time after time, we have been sheltered.
They say that Bombay is a city of everlasting spirit. After each blast and each attack, we pick up the pieces of our lives and move on whilst papers run articles about heroism and national pride, and courts creak into action towards vague stamps of justice served. If 26/11 has taught me one thing- it is that this spirit that this city possesses, this unbeatable grit- it was never ours to begin with. We, the residents of South Bombay have simply acted as close spectators to terrorism. Gasped at the injustice, and mourned the losses, but never really felt the depth of grief and pain that terrorism can cast over lives.
So today, when the places that we grew up around, the hallways we laughed through, and the rooms we danced in are burnt to ground, we feel a fresh pain. We feel a clawing at our hearts and a numbness in our minds. Anger takes the backseat as an all consuming grief overrides all. We stare at the television blankly, flipping mindlessly from one looped video of the scene to the next. Everyone that I talk to seems to know someone, or have heard of someone who's still stuck in the Taj or the Oberoi. In the same hotels that we've celebrated countless weddings, birthdays, and reunions, there is now massacre, murder, and a blasting away of peoples entire lives. So yes, I feel pain. I feel it for each innocent life lost, for the policemen fighting to keep us safe tonight, and for the cruelty and blindness of a few angered hearts.
But at the end of the day, I'm only fifteen and the child in me often takes over. And in those moments, I feel betrayal. That sense of betrayal is so deep and so passionate that it takes me by surprise. Betrayed by the Sasoon docks where my father and i once went to buy fish, for letting those men enter our city, our home, and destroy so much of it so quickly. Betrayed by the Taj Mahal Hotel, for giving up its splendor so easily to a few angry men. Betrayed by the politicians who spoke with charisma of safer days, and exultant futures- just another ploy for more votes. Betrayed by that brave police chief for whom respect flowed from all our hearts, for leaving us so quickly. Betrayed by myself, for having spent so many years criticizing our pot-bellied policemen who are now risking their lives, their sleep and their families for my security.
So though I'm sitting here typing this, without a hair out of place, school closed due to 'unforeseen violence', completely safe and protected- a part of me is missing. That little bubble of security that used to keep the nightmares away has somehow disappeared. In a way it is a good thing- it has made me feel the unnerving vulnerability that countless before me have experienced; during the blasts of 1993, the train station bombings, or any other terrorist attack in history. It has woken me up to the fact that the war on terrorism isn't just a battle that we must one day wage, it is a battle that has been going on for decades, one that we are only just joining. One that we will join, that we have to join, because we, the citizens of South Mumbai have finally woken up. Scared, shattered, and grieving but awake and ready to fight.