Thursday, July 14, 2011

Its our nation attacked...

It was late monsoon evening. Clocks all over India were about to show seven. People, after a demanding day, were longing to return to their houses for a peaceful repose. In one home, kids eagerly awaited their father who had promised to bring them ‘batata wadas'  and in other, a doting daughter baked cake for her working mother.
But their waits proved to be ceaseless. A bomb -blast, and their lives changed forever.
Last night, after dinner, when I switched on the television set, little did I expect to see such saddening, gory pictures all over. ‘Serial blasts in Mumbai’ flashed conspicuously across the screen aggravated by ‘Exclusive pictures’ flashing constantly below it in an even bigger font. The death toll was increasing every minute. I immediately called up my friend who resides in Dadar to enquire about her well-being. To my respite, she was fine. However, this feeling of relief in me persuaded me to hate myself. I was relieved after ensuring that my friend was safe but what about those who lost their lives with no fault of theirs? What about thousands of those people who have lost their dear ones? What about those mothers who had to endure the sight of their sons’ mutilated bodies? For how long does this incident affect those of us who just watched this news on our television sets sitting in our drawing rooms? Or those of us who read about it in newspapers while sipping our bed- tea? Are we becoming emotionless? Or are we used to hearing such news so often that it hardly makes a difference to us? The emotions, emotions of sympathy, pity, care, angst and contempt, in our hearts are dead and no sound, not even of a bomb-blast, can wake up a corpse.
The politicians, the very leaders of this country are heard saying that not all terrorist attacks can be averted. Why can’t we go to them, look into their eyes, and ask them rightfully-why? Why can’t we feel safe and secure in our own motherland. They say this attack was planned in a highly clandestine manner. Obviously, no militant organisation in this world would broadcast their malicious intentions.
I don’t know if this comparison is apposite but it just occurred to me. After 9/11, US government has not let a single terrorist organisation eye its country. They successfully executed a seemingly impossible task of killing Osama-Bin-Laden and what are we doing? We are harbouring Ajmal Kasab in a VIP cell of our prison, nurturing him for the past two years and waiting for another ‘Kandhar hi-jack’ to happen.
This incident too would soon be forgotten like the rest were. Call it the spirit of Indians or their helplessness but we are so accustomed to move on. Is moving on the only choice we have? None of us wants to answer this question in affirmative.
“Where minds are without fear, the head is held high.”
I, like most of us, want every citizen of my country and everybody else’s country to walk around with their heads high. Let’s hope this utopian vision soon becomes a reality.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A handful of ash..


Sujoy was glancing through the headlines when the phone rang. He grabbed it without wasting a moment.
“Fire in Green View apartments”, he shouted, “prepare to leave”, he concluded peremptorily.
Everyone changed to their fire-suits and gathered the necessary paraphernalia hurriedly but without panic. They were used to getting such news. It was a routine job for them.
The scene at the site was heart-rending. The stark black fumes against the azure blue sky seemed like gigantic monsters looking out to engulf everything around. The fire was fierce, very fierce. Sujoy immediately ordered his troupe to get to work.
 Sujoy, a young lad of 24 was son of a fire-fighter himself. Every time he saw his father, he was awestruck by his philanthropy and dare-devil attitude. After all, imperilling one’s own life to save many other lives is in no way for chicken-hearted. His father died during one of his rescue operations. Despite his mother imploring him repeatedly not to join fire-fighting department, he chose it as his career, as his reason to live. Whenever, he went for such operations, she waited for him with her heart in mouth. He was an adroit fireman adorned with awards umpteen times.
He and most of his men were striving hard to control fire on tower-4, the epicentre of this catastrophic flame. Rest of his associates were making more or less futile attempts to fight fire and rescue people on other towers. Sujoy was discernibly upset about the paucity of men under him and a severe dearth of fire-fighting equipment.
Fire on tower-4 was finally under control. The structure had blackened incorrigibly but most of the people inside were evacuated and given first-aid.
Meanwhile, the situation on other towers aggravated further. The satanic fire enwrapped them brutally. The skies echoed the strandeds’ bloodcurdling yells. Sujoy, for the first time in many years, felt helpless. He did lose hope somewhere deep down but vowed to keep trying till the blaze extinguished or till his body got charred beyond recognition.
Tower-5 was burning furiously. There was little chance of anyone still being alive inside. Carrying out rescue operation on the next tower seemed to be a more feasible and pragmatic option to him. His men immediately complied accordingly.
The shouts of people subdued and the ambience grew more forlorn. The conflagration had ebbed away a bit. The palpable lines of anxiety on Sujoy’s forehead eased off a little but didn’t vanish. He now rotated his head for a quick inspection of the site when his eyes met a pair of hardened, emotionless yet beautiful, incredibly beautiful eyes. Those shiny orbs!!!  For a while, they took him to a different world altogether. A glistening drop of tear rolled down those eyes suddenly making Sujoy aware of himself. Through a sordidly burnt window of tower-5, looked out a young girl. Despite the soot all around, she had a glowing snow-white complexion which stood out in contrast against the dark, gloomy surroundings. Her raven- black hairs were tied up loosely in a pony.
She stood there transfixed, with sea-like serenity on her face. Sujoy winced at the sight of her charred left arm but she showed absolutely no signs of pain except for the marks of dried tears on her cheeks. Even after noticing Sujoy, she didn’t cry out for help to him.
Sujoy was making incessant attempts to douse the fire but his eyes occasionally strayed towards that lady. That woman who made him feel something he never had felt before. He knew if he didn’t take an immediate action, the blood-thirsty fire would soon make her its victim. However, he had to finish the task in hand despite his heart longing to rush to her and save her against all odds.
An enraged puff of fire blew across the window where stood she, the girl with whom Sujoy seemed to share an inexplicable and enigmatic bond. It was a persistent puff and very soon took a calamitous form. Every inch of Sujoy’s body ached. His vision was blurred by tears that welled up in his eyes.

Tower-6 was soon freed from the claws of sinister fire. Sujoy raced as fast as he could towards tower-5. He was about to enter the ablaze building when one of his comrades tried to stop him. He threw him to the ground and yelled impertinently-“Stay away.” Shocked by his irrational behaviour, some of his men clutched him tightly making him unable to break-free and go inside. He was about to order another rescue operation anticipating a miracle when the tower collapsed.

Hours later, Sujoy stood there, shaken and devastated. His eyes forgot to blink. His heart was suddenly bereft of something. In front of him was a huge stretch of ash. He picked up a handful of ash and gazed at it as if some magic spell would bring it back to life. He pocketed it and headed for his home where an anxious mother awaited her valiant son.