Mumbai under siege

Being the first one to arise, I sleepily opened the locked doors and took the almost soggy newspaper on a wet Thursday morning. As I looked at the headlines I was rubbing my eyes in disbelief. For once in my life, the headlines in Kannada and the news items were not making sense at all. It talked of Mumbai and terror attacks… but nothing seemed coherent – there was no mention of bomb blasts (which by now, we are tuned to associate with terror) – it talked of raging fires in the Taj hotel – with pictures of the burning dome and mangled remains of a taxi on the Western Express highway.
I quickly switched on the television and flipped channels as the unbelievable gory scenes unveiled before my eyes. How? How could it have happened overnight? Eyes and heart filled with sorrow and rage; I told the husband in hushed tones and before long we stood eyes glazed looking at the TV screen – CST, Gateway of India, Nariman point – names were being bandied about – names, which were so familiar – the areas and scenes we had stepped on just a year ago – the horrific siege story was being told time and again. We looked at each other, mute pained shock written in our eyes and I felt a cold clammy numbness clutch at my heart.

The day was spent continuously catching updates, checking websites for the latest developments online every few minutes… may be I was hoping for a miracle… hoping that the NSG and the RAF and the commandos would overwhelm and annihilate the terrorists… like it always happens in the movies… if only life were a movie! Instead the news of the brave men paying with their lives in the encounters flashed on the screens… Hemant Karkare…the ATS chief, Vijay Salaskar…the encounter specialist, Ashok Kamte…the fearless inspector… it was the end of their glorious career and lives.
And the blood bath continues! More than 40 hours after the first attack… hundreds more have been killed… hostages, foreigners on a holiday, unsuspecting civilians and Mumbaikars, policemen and commandos – for whom it is supposed to be just another day at work – only that, there will be no more work days!

Hope continues to dive deeper into an abyss and the mind feels shockwaves of helpless rage. I have been checking the web like insane, reading up information, devouring it all to satiate a hunger born out of helplessness that doesn’t seem to die, dazedly reading about how other bloggers are coping with it – people in the city, people away from it all – there is anger, there is hatred, outrage and perplexity, tears of ire and powerlessness – it doesn’t seem to end – where are we heading? Earlier it was with the dates and the calendar… now, these are blurring… dates and cities don’t seem to be significant any longer.
Is there any hope amidst this all? Anybody that we can turn to? Our leaders? Bah! Who are these bunches of bumbling old idiots who repeat the same statements every single time? How long before it is another city and another set of meaningless words? How long before it is one of us?