I don’t quite know what to write, what to say. The events in Mumbai have left me bereft of words. Mumbai is a city I love, where I have spent some of the happiest years of my life, some of its most fulfilling moments. The Taj. Hey! We used to hang out there! Remember the time we giggled over coffee together? Remember the bookshop? And the number of times we have taken a detour through the Taj lobby on our way to somewhere else…
These are the memories I hide behind, as I try to understand what this latest attack means for the city, for my country, for the world.
I was in Mumbai in 1992, when the Babri Masjid riots broke out, and in 1993, when thirteen bomb blasts ravaged the city. I have seen the city in flames, the army flag-march through deserted, riot-torn streets. But this attack, somehow, is different.
Should Mumbaikars just pick themselves up again and carry on with life as though nothing has happened? They’ve done that, we’ve done that so many times in the past. How many more times will that be required of us?
Are we a country at war? And if we are, then, as a friend asked - what rules of engagement are these? With a hidden, unacknowledged enemy? I don’t have answers to these questions.
Last night was a long night. A friend was trapped inside the Taj. As I sat, glued to the TV, worrying about Mumbai, worrying about him, I couldn’t quite believe it was happening. Later, when he was out, and away and safe, it began to hit me, slowly and very hard. ‘There was so much blood, Ro, on the floors…’ he said.
The battle continues. More than a hundred dead. Fourteen policemen killed. As I write, there are people still inside the Taj, the Trident, Nariman House…
This morning I wanted to gather all my beloved people in a room and keep them safe inside. Now, a few hours later, that wish seems selfish and small. Now I only wish to tell them how much I love them, and hope that they will find the courage, strength and fortitude to face whatever life brings. We need strength of mind and spirit to get through this, as people, as a nation.