Three serial blasts have rocked Mumbai yet again forcing its inhabitants to relive the trauma which they have experienced on multiple occasions in the past.
Centuries ago, when the Portuguese had set their foot on the land of Bombay, they had called it a ilha da boa vida which translates to “the island of good life” *. They did not have the slightest idea that the very same island, which had attracted travelers from far and wide in search of a better life, would one day be trampled over by a depraved and irreparable race that would resort to any action, no matter how inhumane, to prove their might and superiority. Bombay has always been hailed for its cosmopolitanism. As hard as it might be to believe there was a time when Hindu-Muslim camaraderie was an integral part of the city’s social fabric. Now, this fabric has been torn beyond repair and all that remains are its frayed and pointed ends that prick the city time and again.
Yesterday evening as I was sitting in my living-room watching “Breaking News: Mumbai Hit By Three Bomb Blasts” being flashed on various news channels only three words escaped my mouth- “God! Not again”. Panic-stricken, I made numerous phone calls to my friends and relatives and when the news, that all of them were hale and hearty, poured in I became my usual self.
This morning I had a discussion with colleagues about the current state of affairs in our country and all of us unanimously agreed that it was indeed miserable. Each time such an incident occurs our leaders display a remarkable alacrity to“condemn” or “strongly condemn” these actions. However when it comes to strengthening our intelligence and security system they conveniently take a back seat. But who can blame them? After all, filling up one’s coffer with the nation’s hard-earned money and lodging it safely in tax havens is several orders of magnitude more important than the national security. And anyway,” security” is a term applicable to VIPs only. The hoi polloi can walk around with daggers and swords dangling above their heads. No one really cares. The frequency with which these explosion have occurred over the past few years makes me wonder if a time will come when they’ll become just commonplace events that happen once in a while. The very thought of it makes my soul shiver.
The macabre images of the dead and injured evoke nationwide pathos. Whenever I see the picture of a one-legged man covered with blood crying in pain I feel I can empathise with him. I feel that I can understand his pain and suffering. But honestly, I know I can’t. For me and all the other people sitting safely in their homes the entire scene can be changed in one second. Whenever the picture gets too gruesome we can easily switch over to the entertainment channel or flip over to page 3 and read about the latest escapades of a Bollywood actress. But for those unlucky souls, who witnessed the incident first hand, their entire life takes a U-turn. Their physical injuries might heal in due course of time but indelible scars are left in their minds. For those who lose their near and dear ones, no amount of monetary compensation can fill up the newly created void.
The only good that comes out of these incidents is that the faith of the masses in their strength and resilience is reaffirmed. In the past whenever Mumbai has witnessed the face of terror it has not taken more than a day to snap out of fear. The rising sun on the next day fills the people with fresh vigour and vitality which encourages them to move ahead undeterred. The local trains have the usual hustle bustle. No Mumbaikar is ever unnerved by such incidents. Perhaps that’s the reason why Mumbai is still called the city of dreams. A terrorist attack can just stop a handful of Mumbaikars from breathing. But it can never stop them from dreaming .
* Mumbai Fables by Gyan Prakash