17 Jul 2011

The Time After The Blast

A couple of days ago, a tragedy struck us. Three blasts rocked Mumbai and with it also the country. Nothing could be done about it. News channels aired their favourite 'Are you safe?' programs while papers came up with ridiculous headlines which instead of showing sympathy and support to the victims commercialised their agony. Ministers claimed that it wasn't a failure of intelligence, some questioned that claim while the others simple said that during their rule the number of such incidences were limited and advocated a zero tolerance policy for Terrorism. It didn't bother me what people had to say about the incident. What bothered me was what they did about it and how they helped the people in need.

      I am very happy to say that I wasn't disappointed as the human spirit awoke as the news about the blast spread and people offered their help to the stranded. Social networking sites were full of offers to people to give them a ride home, offering a place to stay and people even from the overseas tweeted to the stranded telling them that they would call the folks of the stranded due to the mobile network being down and all. Nothing more could have been done to show how united the people were. The terrorists only succeeded in revoking those sentiments of unity and sympathy which were not seen on the faces of news anchors as they went into commercial break after having had a chat with their correspondents on the death toll.

      The topic #mumbaiblasts became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter for a couple of hours while tags such as #offer2help came up as people tagged their offers of help and sent around a message to the masses. Some of the stranded responded to the tweets and they were taken care of. People took out their cars and drove up long distances only to help a person stranded at a temple reach home. This simple act of kindness gave me an absolutely strange feeling as I looked on in delight as offers to help flowed.

      The common Indian politics started soon after with many a people blaming certain communities for the tragedy that struck us all. This one thing infuriated me the most and I lashed out at those who were trying to incite communal hatred. Of course they had their own reasons which they childishly tried to prove right in front of us as me and a couple of my friends questioned the very logic behind each of them and proved them wrong. Many a friends of mine on Twitter asked me to not respond to them but then I couldn't help it and gave the irritants a piece of my mind. However trolling continued.

      Even as the twitterati offered help, news channels went from celebrity to celebrity asking for their opinion on the blast. That according to me was very immature as no person with a rational mind set would support blasts aimed at civilians and true to rationality all condemned the blasts and offered their condolences and sympathy. One thing that did strike me was that the very next day, the city came to a halt quite to the delight of the terrorists whose aim of bringing the city to a stop had been fulfilled. Roads remained empty and offices, schools and colleges recorded the lowest attendance ever. However I did go to college.

      Even as I entered the college there was an eerie feeling. Two souls looked at me as I showed the watchmen my ID and entered the campus. The basketball court was deserted quite unlike normal days when it has people playing and at times talking to each other in groups. Rain poured down as I traced my steps to my lecture room. It seemed like silence had indeed invaded the place. A teacher replied, when asked why the college hadn't declared a holiday stating that the Principal thought that by declaring a holiday they would only be ensuring that the terrorists get what they want i.e. the ability to bring fear into our minds. I sat in my class and talked to five students out of a class of hundred who were present. Only one lecture took place that day.

      What my principle said was indeed true. These acts of bombings had always been meant to bring fear into the minds of the people. Even as leaders visited the victims and talked policy, the roads remained empty. The crows circled the sky as cops wearing raincoats stood at various points eyeing each and everyone who passed them. The terrorists would be caught shortly but what would happen? They would be given a 'free and fair' trial and then they would stay in prison courtesy the Government of India. Next day the city returned to normal as cars honked at each other and students responded with a 'present' to the attendance call. Nothing should ever break this spirit of our again like the way it was broken on that day for till we are here we must refuse to bow our heads to terrorism.