I have not stayed in Mumbai during my life. I have been there quite a few times for work and family commitments. In fact, I have never stayed in any one city for more than 7 years. I have lived parts of my life in Kolkata, Nepal, Ranikhet, Noida, New Delhi, Bangalore and now, Singapore. A rolling stone gathers no moss, one would say, and I have no special affinity for any one city. Sure. But, beyond cities, its the sheer tragedy that humanity faces is what hurts me the most. Whether it is Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Kabul, Baghdad or Jaipur that is attacked, ultimately it all leads to tragic losses for so many of us. Mumbai, surely, has a resilient soul. It will bounce back, but sometimes, I just feel that we are just “indifferent”, not resilient. Whatever I have seen in the last few years has affected me a lot. I see a dramatic change in the way my mind has been conditioned, re-conditioned and again re-conditioned over the years. Thankfully, neither I nor any of my loved ones were directly affected in the chaos that has affected so many innocent people in so many places. But, time and again, I feel that my soul has been shot at and torn apart by grenades and bombs. Time and again, I feel an absolute sense of insecurity and disgust.
Today, I live in Singapore, which has a reputation for its safety record. I know that I have nothing to worry about. But, sometimes, it all makes me feel very guilty. Guilty about not being there with my countrymen, guilty about not able to do anything about the problem, guilty about being a mere bystander on the sidelines. But, at the same time, I feel very proud of the people in the thick of it – our security forces personnel who risk everything for us, brave mediamen who bring all the stories to the masses, common men and women who are there to lend a helping hand to people they barely know and a brave new generation of bloggers, photographers, twitterers and other social media activists. Hats off to them!
The scars are deep. Profound. Sometimes I wonder, on my next trip back home, will I need to stay holed up in the safe environs of my house? Will I be able to go out, without fear, for a nature walk in Bangalore or to my favourite eating places in Kolkata or just to see my dad in his clinic in Nepal? I want to and I will. Perhaps, it is easy to bomb humans than it is to mutilate the human spirit. They simply cannot. No matter how many of us they shoot down, they can’t take away our small joys. Our future. Our hopes. Our dreams. For a better, brighter and safer tomorrow.