The Aftermath- 26/12
The Aftermath- 26/12
TRIGGER WARNING: This story contains highly graphic description of a true event. Reader discretion is advised.
26th November, 2008
Victoria Terminus, Mumbai.
Humph, Humph. The sound of Sana's sobbing had been piercing my ears for 15 minutes. She was acting really immature and childish. We were traveling to Kolkata to celebrate our parents' 25th anniversary. Sana was crying because it was her friend's birthday, which she was missing because of this.
Suddenly my phone started ringing. It was my mother.
"Aditya, did you reach the station? What is the status of the train?" my mother asked.
"We are at the station ma. The train is delayed by 1 hour so it should be here by 10. Ma, don't tell Papa we are coming. We want it to be a surprise for him."
After I was done talking to my mother, I noticed that Sana is not there. For a few seconds, I felt like I couldn't breathe. My heart was in my mouth, and I could feel my limbs turning to jelly. While I was scanning the whole area, I noticed Sana sitting with a small kid around her age and a dog with them.
I rushed towards her, all prepared to yell at her for scaring me out of my wits. But all my anger melted at the sight of Sana, lovingly petting the dog. It was the first time I had seen her smiling since a week and I didn't want to upset her again. Sana always wanted a dog but our parents never allowed us, citing different reasons as to why it won't be feasible. I decided to let Sana play with the dog and the other kid, not wanting to take away her momentary peace of mind.
I knew Sana was not happy with my decision. She never liked our parents. But then, I couldn't blame her either. She was my uncle's and aunt's daughter. They had died in a car accident when she was barely 2 years old, leaving the responsibility of my parents to take care of her. My parents loathed her, and the extra baggage that she was putting on our finances.
They made it a point to always remind her of how unwanted she is, of how she didn't belong with us.
But for me, Sana was like my own sister. I didn't have any siblings, and when Sana came, it was as if God had heard my prayers. I absolutely adored her. My parents had always been harsh to her, not giving her food, locking her away in her room. But I always hid some food and gave it to her secretly and let her play with my favourite toys.
As the years passed, my parents' hatred for Sana only seemed to be growing more and more. It reached to this point that when I told my mother about our plan to come to meet them on their anniversary, my mother said-
"Why are you bringing Sana too? Just let her be on her own there. I pray to God every day to kill her, to take away our headache once and for all."
I had been horrified to hear my mother say that. I knew my mother abhorred her, but I didn't know that her hatred was at a point where she wished for her death.
1 hour later:
An elderly couple was having trouble carrying their luggage so I decided to help them. I had just made them sit comfortably on their seats when I heard the deafening roar of a bomb go off somewhere. Suddenly the decibel level of the station reached a peak and I heard loud screams of horror. The only thought revolving in my mind was whether Sana was alright.
I ran as fast as I could, refusing to imagine the worst. As I reached the platform where I had left her, I instantly hid behind a pillar. I could see 2 men, heavily armed, shooting at a distance. They were shooting indiscriminately, their excessive rage emanating from their bodies.
But what was the most horrific part about them was that they were unflinchingly shooting anyone and anything that came in front of them, be it, adults or children. Even animals weren't spared. There was a glint in their eyes, and a smile on their faces, which kept growing wider as they were killing more and more people. They seemed utterly proud and satisfied of their doings, relishing every second of it. Their faces and bodies were covered in the blood of the people at whom they had fired mercilessly.
Wherever I looked, the only thing I could see predominantly was the colour red. It was everywhere. Splashed across the walls and the floor, people spluttering it out of their mouths, blood oozing out from the gunshot wounds on people's bodies. It wasn't just the blood, people's insides were also spread on the floor.
It was horrific. Humanity could fall to such a low, I could never imagine. Children as small as some months old, elderly people nearing their hundred, even unborn children in the womb of their pregnant mothers, all lay dead or breathing their last. I could feel cries trying to come out of mouth, but I covered my mouth with my hand, not wanting to gain the terrorists' attention.
I saw with horror filled eyes as one of the men bent to drink water from a little girl's bottle. I was just praying to God that he would spare her. But as I opened my eyes after praying, I saw that man shoot the girl in her head. It was getting too much for me to handle. But with determination, I started looking around for Sana.
While my eyes were searching the place, I saw a few people hiding in the little space between the railway track and the platform. It was then that I spotted the pink flower headband of Sana. Very slowly and surely, I made my way towards her. As soon I reached there, I heaved a sigh of relief and hugged her tightly. I could see that she was trying really hard to control her fright and her tears. I silently assured her that I will take care of her.
There was pin drop silence everywhere, except the sound of the men shooting when suddenly a kid started crying. I looked up to see that it was the same kid that Sana was playing with. Sana's eyes widened and I knew that she wanted to save the kid. She started getting up but I instantly pulled her down. I told her that I will get that kid.
I had almost reached the kid when the kid dropped dead in front of me, his eyes rolling back in his head. In that instant, I knew what was coming for me. I could imagine what I would see when I would look up. And yes, as I looked up, there it was. The brown eyes of one of the men, staring down at me. I had barely looked at him when I felt something piercing my chest and felt blood coming out in spurts. Initially, it was tough to breathe and it was difficult keeping my eyes open. Suddenly, all went blank in front of me.
One month later:
26th December 2008.
"Sana, come on downstairs. Breakfast is ready," mother called me from downstairs.
I reached downstairs and sat at the dining table. Mother came and sat across from me. She suddenly brought her hand in front of my mouth, offering me food from her own hands. Tears threatened to come out of my eyes.
Everything had changed since that unfortunate incident at Mumbai. Mother and Father suddenly seemed to realise my value after Aditya passed away. Conditions had improved drastically and a loving relationship seemed to be developing among our family. Though things have become better, which earlier I would have given anything to achieve, I didn't know it would cost us so dearly.
Nevertheless, I hope Aditya is in a better place, looking at us from above. Finally smiling and satisfied.
Gone, but not forgotten. This story is a tribute to all the people who lost their lives in the attacks of 26/11. They will always be in our memories.