Thursday, November 26, 2009
The scars may have gone, but some wounds run too deep to be forgotten
For all the people living elsewhere in the world, it was a chilling reminder that there is no place that is safe from the clutches of terrorism..for those of us who call the city of Mumbai our home, it was the most horrifying vision of our lives. To see the very places that I had walked, talked and roamed about all my life, in the very train station that I passed by so many times, that very icon of my home- The Taj Mahal hotel and Oberoi Trident, the Nariman house..all of them falling to a handful of terrorists, burning these priceless pieces of the city's fabric into ashes, spilling blood on the pathways of democracy.. I could not help but feel frustratingly helpless sitting at my cousins place at Indianapolis. For the first time ever had I ever felt so strongly an Indian, a Mumbaikar.
My eyes and soul refusing to tear themselves off the images of explosions booming inside the heritage hotel, the lifeless bodies being dragged away as they left paths of blood on the floor of CST train terminus...
Days later, seemingly endless ones, the carnage was finally over...the NSG finally cleared all the hostage sites, killing the last of the terrorists at the Taj. It was a time where everybody now started asking the same set of questions...WHY? HOW? How was it possible for these few people to control the fates and thoughts of so many through their hateful and obviously fanatic deeds? What was the motive? In the name of religion? country? race, skin color? Perhaps the answer could be found in Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist to be captured alive..the one who was also captured on the CST train station CCTVs lifting his assault rifle firing at the innocent civilians. Perhaps in forensics analysing all the dead terrorists...but none more so than maybe looking at ourselves. Looking at the human within each of us, trying to see as to how an ordinary person like you and me could lose all our humanity in order to be able to kill an innocent person, as to how we could allow that to happen to ourselves, whether there is any good at all when we are born into this world.... Will I have to walk in fear everytime I now venture near the Taj, have a coffee at Cafe Leopold? Should I always have someone tell me that we should move on from incidents such as these, which supposedly only strengthen and display the 'spirit' of Mumbai?
Coming frm an extremely diverse campus, I find it extremely disgusting to even start to generalize the entire state of Pakistan as the one to blame over the attacks. I thought about this the most 2 days ago as me and Bethany sat down having a fabulous lunch of Butter naans, kebabs and Chicken Tikka Masala at a Pakistani restaurant in NYC. Was I betraying the Indian sentiment by doing this? or should I be rather thinking about how certain corrupt factions in both of these governments are lax towards their own attitudes on terrorism and on how the real cause of it is the huge ONE terrorist network hell bent on their psychotic jihad, existing not only in India, Pakistan and the South Asian countries, but in the entire world. History has proven that Pennsylvania is as prone to a hijacked plane falling out of the sky as is The Taj Hotel being burnt by terrorists. Maybe we should think beyond the countless candlelight memorials that were held in the immediate aftermath of the attacks....the ones with college kids displaying posters condeming politicians, shouting slogans that CHANGE HAS TO HAPPEN. Maybe now there has to be a consistent solution. We, the students of Penn State York did not hold that memorial last year to just mourn the loss of our countrymen and to condemn terrorism....and just get on with our lives the next day onwards...which is exactly what we ended up doing. I voiced my opinion on this that day, and I maintain this opinion today. Just as 9/11, I hope 26/11 is never forgotten. I hope that image of the burning dome of the Taj remains in my mind forever. On one level, I want to feel that hate, that pain, that anger that pours out against those men who caused so much pain to innocents. on another level, my soul feels that this is the time when WE as a world have to come together and take basic steps towards working it out, not hasty wars, nor long speeches by politicians and money being offered to the families of the deceased.
Our terrorist admitting that he is a Pakistani national does not help in the least bit. Sure he might be Pakistani, or Indian or Afghani.....who cares? All I know is that that man has no love left in him. No country should accept him as a national. He claims to have a family and the terrorist organization that brainwashed him into this deed apparently offered his family lifetime support...its cost the Indian Government 34 hundred million rupees to keep him alive so far...in this time of economic crisis.What are we doing?
Right now, the support groups have faded away, all those petitions all those voices...have died out. Change, has only happened in the time. Its a year since 26/11/08 and nothing much has changed. Politicians still bicker and slap each other over regional language issues, security and army personel still are under equipped, and the spirit of Mumbai still wants to 'move on'. If big gaps remain to be plugged, how have we moved on? Arent we just as vulnerable as a year ago?
Instead of praising our heroes who aved us, regional politicians , legalized gangsters want to instead mock these soldiers just because they werent from the state of Maharashtra...hell if the NSG elite commandos hadnt swung into action, who knows how many more civilians might have died, how much more burnt the Taj and Oberoi would have been. Unless we start behaving like adults, even more pathetic people like these terrorists will continue to take advantage of it.
I love Mumbai dearly, and I miss being a part of its daily fabric. I miss that feel of my home, and its horrible not to actively and physically be the force that prevents such event from happening again. Its true now, that ordinary citizens can do very little to change the way things work.. noble though our intentions might be. The real power lies in the hands of these oh so awesome politicians, who have to realize that its not one religion, one caste, one state and one country thats at attack from the terrorist, but our entire world.
Lighting candles and moving on will not do anymore..... 9/11, 26/11 and all the others...cannot and should never be forgotten.