Terrorism: When it becomes more than a Newspaper Article

  • SumoMe

It’s been ten years since the ill-fated 9/11 attacks: an event that has changed the world’s perception of tragedy, an episode that has since held governments all over the world hostage to constant paranoia and most of all, an incident which acts as a recurrent reminder to billions of people across geographies that life is indeed cheap…

I was a teenager who was more concerned with real-life problems like Maths and board exams when the two planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the Twin Towers. Since then, terrorism has almost become a part and parcel of life, especially in India, where it happens at regular intervals, almost like companies announcing their quarterly results, only more frequently!

Being a resident of Mumbai, I have been no stranger to recurrent acts of this heinous crime. I was there during the serial blasts in 2003, the train bombing in 2006, the 26/11 attacks and most recently the blasts in July 2011. Each time I thanked my lucky stars that I had escaped the attacks unscathed, each time I assured my parents and relatives and each time I made frantic phone calls to my friends to make sure they were fine. Terrorism, while it shook me to the core, was still something that happened to “other people”. But things changed on the eve of Valentines Day in 2010, when there was an attack carried out at German Bakery in Pune: I could no longer claim to be untouched by terrorism, I could no longer read about it in the papers the next day, shake my head and then forget about it.

I had become a victim…

Pune was a city where I lived and studied for two years. Yes, I was a proud alumnus of the revered Symbiosis International University. German Bakery was our favourite haunt which gave us respite from our hectic schedules, surprise quizzes and placement woes, it was the place where we escaped to when we could no longer bear the burden of mundane drudgery and it was the Garden of Eden in the middle of the serene Koregaon Park (KP) where we lost ourselves in merry revelry. Unfortunately, we chose the fateful evening of February 13, 2010 to do exactly that. We had all recently completed our MBAs, we were working in different parts of the country but we decided to meet up and relive the college days, and German Bakery was the clear winner.

If only we knew what lay ahead, if only…

There we were, six of us, enjoying our pastries, sipping our coffees and gossiping like old times. Suddenly, out of nowhere, there was loud noise, fire and the next few hours were a blur. I just remember running hysterically on the roads, frantically shrieking out my best friend and college roommate’s names, as I fumbled with my phone, dialing random numbers as my fingers felt numb with fear. By some stroke of miracle, I had escaped unscathed, but my friends weren’t so lucky. My best friend had suffered burns on her face and arms, one of them had damaged his eardrums and another had to undergo surgery after three long months of hospitalization. Psychologically, the trauma still continues to haunt them.

Pune no longer evokes carefree memories of college life. Even today every time I close my eyes, I see smoke and I hear voices/screaming/explosion…

Simanti Talukdar

An economics graduate and Symbi MBA by education, an analyst in an Investment Bank by profession and a writer by passion, she is one confused person.

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