Yesterday, I was reminded by a friend that 26/11 was around the corner and I did not know how to respond: should I have been frightened?, should I have been anxious?, should I stay at home and play safe rather than exposing myself to any possible attacks? In many ways, I did not have any emotional response, mainly because I was not present in Mumbai when the terrorist attacks on Mumbai happened on November 26 in 2008. I was in the confines of safe and cozy San Francisco when I saw the CNN broadcast of the tragedy and annihilation that struck South Mumbai.
Today was the 3 year anniversary of 26/11 and I still do not seem to know how to respond. I know I feel immense sadness and despair when I think of all the hundreds of people that have been affected by the attack on Mumbai, which is an attack to India itself and her people; there also seems to be a sense of hopelessness, in many ways, when I look around me and I see the poverty, crime, and chaos that surrounds this city, as if she wore a dark mantle that she may never be able to shrug off. I do not know. There is a kind of numbness in me, and I think it’s mainly to do with the fact that, in some way, I have been divorced from Mumbai for a long, long time. However, things may change, as my new found courtship with this city is still very much in its infant stages.
This evening I was matching a movie at home and heard a lot of hullabaloo outside my window. My first instinct was to ignore it, as there is always something or the other happening in Mumbai. This really is a city that never sleeps. Believe you me! Anyhow, I continued to hear the commotion outside and my second instinct was that it was a bunch of real noisy kids just playing in the street. When I found that the outside noise was drowning the TV, I peered outside the window only to find hundreds of people walking in a procession, each one with candles in their hands, young and old, chanting in unison the following phrase, “Bharat mata ki jai!” (Victory to Mother India). I managed to get a short video from my window, and although not very clear, it gives you an idea of what I am talking about:
I was touched by this march, people holding banners and placards, the police participating to provide order…..it definitely made me fell connected to the people of Mumbai on some level. I was glad that I did go out this morning to South Mumbai and spent my afternoon there, and I will say a prayer for all those whose lives were taken away in such a harsh and horrific manner.