Who made my Bombay cry?

This is an essay penned by my sister Mehernaaz. She is a non-blogger, and hence I am posting it here to give her a platform. This is her first blog post and hopefully she will become a blogger soon. Any and all encouragement in that regards will be appreciated.

Who made my Bombay cry? Why?

[By Mehernaaz Sam Wadia for news views and analysis]

This was the 1st time I was out and about when forces, natural and man-made attempted to bring my home to its knees. But not for long. The day after every ‘event’, thousands wake up and make their way to work, each one hoping that there were better ways and reasons to break the monotony of their routine lives.

The rains lashed at our city. Well not really lashed. I personally remember having excitedly waded through worse. These days, the smallest of downpours puts people in flash back mode and they get paranoid. “Stay home. I don’t want to risk u facing danger, or worse… never seeing you again” is the funda Bombay lives by through the monsoons. Is anyone listening when people cry out because their homes are getting swept away? When children fall ill due to the polluted waters? Or when the city suffers humongous losses financially? Don’t the people responsible have families of their own that have suffered? If every one of these complacent culprits pledges to work diligently, I’m sure that would alleviate some of the chaos. Does nature have to keep slamming the problems in our face to make us learn from our mistakes? Nature doesn’t understand that at such times, the people concerned turn their faces away.

Last Sunday, a bus burned because someone decided to beautify Meenatai Thakeray with a mudpack. The connection between the events? Nothing. Just the shiv sena trying to show Mumbai that they still exist, in spite of their clout rapidly fading from the society, political and social, at large. the news channels mentioned that angered sainiks burned effigies. Pray someone tell me, of whom? Meenatai? Do we even know who did that to her statue? The Shiv Sena’s logic of backlash towards the innocent man when they can’t make sense of things has been their nemesis. It has taken time to sink in to the public psyche, but now that it has, such behavior only lowers them further in the common man’s eyes.

Now its some faceless spineless terrorist trying to make an even more lame statement. When tragedy struck, 11 minutes long, everybody’s lives ground to a dead stop. Meetings were forgotten, appetites were lost, plans were put on hold. Frantic calls, messages?but going nowhere. All the phone lines were jammed. Hardly surprising, considering every human being has at least one loved one somewhere in this vast metropolis we call home. The phone that was capable of any kind of communication was the prized possession for a while.

Going home that day, the first time I was out on the roads watching. What I saw made me cry. Not because I was scared or hurt. I cried because I felt bad for the people swarming at bus stops scrambling to get into buses taking them to the far flung suburbs. As I lived within what is called south Mumbai, it was quick and easy for me to get home. One of the lucky few around. I saw the look of guilt on the face of the lone passenger in a cab. Guilty because he saw the swarms at the bus stop and knew he could bring 3 other people closer to their loved ones, if he helped, but too hesitant to take a step. The anguish and anger of the working class who, after a long hard and possibly very bad day, was looking forward to heading home; having a hot home cooked meal; playing with his children; resting his head on his pillow to forget if for a few hours, the pressure that the next day will bring.

Nevertheless, I saw a flip side too. I saw the crowds of people still waiting at the railway stations. Willing to get into the same trains and traveling the same roads that had ended so violently for some. I saw the police on the roads. The same police that we curse and swear at when we have nobody else to blame. I speak for myself but the presence of policemen at regular intervals al the way home reassured me. I knew everything was not alright and for some would never be. But if something happened I knew I would not be alone. There would be a hand reaching out to help me up.

And then I wondered. What was the statement the criminals in this case were trying to make? Who was the target? What was the message? Mumbai upped and went back to work the next morning. We are a resilient lot. I also suspect that we are a lot with not much choice. The local trains are the lifeline of this city and without it not many can move and not much can happen. The common man, no matter how great his fear, has to go back to work and so has to get on that same train.

Let these people know that as with the rest of the world, mindless terrorism never achieved anything other than make a people resilient beyond their known capacity. It also creates new terrorists. But it never achieves what it sets out to do. Never.