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20 July 2007

Don't get mad, don't get even

Quite a few people have a life altering moment or event. Some times it is death of a parent or loved one; a divorce; childhood abuse, birth of a child, falling in love and so on. And as in my case, a senseless act of violence.

It is like I am having an out of body experience- strangely detached- as I read or watch the final verdicts being given in the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blast case, as this week it is almost over. It wasn't me there, or was it?

I grew up in the "safe" city, in a suburb where in childhood an after dinner walk or drive meant even mid-night ones for ice cream or special paan at the corner shop where one would often meet and greet familiar faces. The serial bomb blasts in Mumbai, were my first and first hand exposure to madness- I was in Worli that day, where the bomb was a scooter bomb. In terms of sheer loss in money and lives it was the most damaging out of the seven that went off in Mumbai on March 12, 1993.

At Worli, near the passport office it left a crater that was as wide as the road. Ripped the entire facade of two residential buildings with shops below, and shattered the glass of commercial ones around (one of which at some distance was our office). It was at noon so children were returning from school after exams; entire BEST buses blown off; All th vehicles waiting at the signal too. The twin theatres close by had just finished their afternoon show. College kids who bunked college and went for a movie continue to be missing to this date. The passport office which has serpentine queues on any day. A huge tree near the bus stop under which my favourite nariyal pani walla would sit. All that was left was a charred stump. The Monginis cake shop manned by two brothers who'd willingly agree to any of our demands to have the cake cut into so many pieces, all blown away; so many regular haunts and familiar people. The scene was pretty much similar in six other locations in the city. Our light hearted post lunch banter turned into something short of a nightmare with the news and scenes outside. It is nothing short of sheer wonder or miracle that neither I or any of my close friends, colleagues, family died or were injured that day. The city pretty much resembled a battlefield.

A girl I used to travel with who worked in the area had a nervous breakdown and never returned to work again. The day ended with my boss instructing a colleague, "Reach her home personally". Most people who lived in same localities teamed up.

The sheer grit and determination of the Pawar govt that brought the city back to normal within 24 hours is what kept the city sane, even as citizens silently lined up to donate blood.

I realised seeing so much death and destruction at close quarters and not in the pages of the latest bestseller - Truly violence is not cool guys. Not in any form. Never mind how subtle or disguised it is. Live in the moment. Live in love and laughter. Love your self, love what you do and love life. It is the only one you have. No guarantees, no warranties and no replacements.

I think Gandhiji would have said, an eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.

After 1993, there has been 9/11 and more recently last years train blasts. But the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts changed me and my life. In more ways than one.

I don't know if you change life or life changes you. But change it has-definitely. In a manner of speaking I like to refer to it as beginning of the end. Of the old me, my old life, relationships that are held together sometimes more by animosity and arguments than love. I am a different person. A lucky one, with no scars to have or show. All because of one day in March 1993.

For so many others less fortunate than us who survived, will the judgements give comfort and closure? And for who died, R.I.P.

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