|1 April, 2009
We’ve all had those moments – when you remember exactly where you were when you heard the news of a life-shattering tragedy. That image is frozen in your mind. For most Americans, they can recall where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news about September 11th, 2001. For me, November 26th, 2008 had the same effect.
Mumbai almost “knew” that it was the next target. I remember reading various articles in The Times of India with titles along the lines of “When is Mumbai’s turn?” In 2008, many Indian mega-cities were targeted: New Delhi on September 13th, Ahmadabad (Gujarat) on July 26th, Bangalore on July 25th, Jaipur on May 13th However, the intensity and duration of the actual attacks horrified everyone.
On November 27th, I was jolted awake at 3 am by my phone ringing. I was worried when I saw an American number on my cell phone. The call was from my friends from my church in Connecticut. In a panicky voice, Jen said: “Mindy, where are you? We are worried about you!” I, of course, had no idea what had happened. I had gone to bed a little early on the 26th, around 10:30 pm (The first attack began at 9:20 pm). Also, I do not have a television. I live in Thane, which is about 1 hour from the site of the attacks. On the morning of the 27th, I was on the phone constantly. I also received about 100 e-mails! Indian friends called me and told me not to go outside (after I had already arrived in my office later than normal). Rumours were flying! The local mobile shop owner told me that the terrorists had bombed another train station in Navi Mumbai (New Bombay). Friends told me to wear long-sleeved salwar kameez and put my hair in a braid/plat to look more Indian (since the terrorists were targeting foreigners). I was actually fine in Thane, since all of the attackers had been contained in the area around Nariman Point and The Gateway of India (South Mumbai). The next day, I was on a train to Pune, and grabbed a newspaper. The entire paper was filled with reports of the attacks. Many personal accounts and stories were listed. Heartwrenching accounts of the loss of life: a young man who was to marry his college sweetheart in a few days; a young man who was to leave for Australia to pursue a wonderful new job; the Taj Hotel manager who lost his wife and all of his children due to smoke inhalation in their room as he rescued and escorted guests to safety; a man who was parking his taxi after dropping off his entire family and extended family at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, only to find that all of them had been killed before he could enter the station to join them. The suffering and loss was massive.
Now, more than 2 months after the attacks, there are still reminders of the attacks around Mumbai. I recently saw a billboard in Mumbai that read:
The billboard was advertising life insurance. But, what is next for Mumbai? How do we try to make sense of the whole situation?
Suffering is defined as “enduring hardship or experiencing loss”. On Dictionary.com: “To feel pain or distress; sustain loss, injury, harm, or punishment; To tolerate or endure evil, injury, pain, or death”. In Mumbai, people have responded to overwhelming suffering caused by the terror attacks by uniting together. Peaceful, silent candlelight memorials have occurred. Hindus, Muslims, and Christians have come together as one to unite for peace as they endure suffering and loss.
As I try to grapple with the suffering caused by the terror attacks on November 26th – 29th, as well as the hardship that many people endure on a daily basis in Mumbai, I am reminded that Jesus was “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3). Jesus suffered many things (Mark 8:31). However, his suffering was part of God’s plan for restoration. Acts 3:21 brings us comfort in suffering: “Jesus must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as He promised long ago through His holy prophets.” As Christians, we have hope that in the future, God will restore everything: you, me, Mumbai. As Peter wrote, “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10).
Thank you Father God, that you are familiar with our suffering, that it will only last a little while, and that you intend to use it for good and restore us and the world!
From local eye-witnesses “The 26/11 day was the blackest day in the history of Bombay. The aftermath of it was too bad. I remember reading about some schools in South Bombay. The South Bombay is a place where the elite of the city live. Many of the children in a particular school of South Bombay have been orphaned, their parents were caught in the Taj, Oberoi and Trident hotels. Its so disheartening to think that how would these children survive now. May be some relatives, near and dear ones could take care of them but what if they had no one to take care of them.
This then reminds me of the commotion at Nariman House where the Jewish Rabbi and his wife were killed mercilessly. It was revealed afterwards that the terrorists abused the women folk. The Rabbi’s wife was pregnant too. I can’t think of the ordeal she must have gone through. Finally Moshe their son was left without his parents and his cry for his parents was reducing everybody to tears.
The NSG Commando Major Unnikrishnan who lost his life in the operation was a brave man but unfortunately the only son of his parents. The trauma his parents are going through is indescribable.
The top cream of the Mumbai Police force ie Hemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar and Kamte falling an easy prey into the hands of the terrorists just was heartbreaking.
The plight of all those who died at the CST Station mercilessly was terrible. There was a mountain of slippers / sandals of the deceased / injured and many people could identify the dead through sandals / slippers.
We travel through CST and traverse along the same spots where there was bloodshed and mayhem. We too could have fallen victims to the bullets of the terrorists.”