God bless the media.
If it weren’t for them, we would have gone about this day as if it was any other. It’s been a month now since the leading dailies have been falling over each other trying to cover the one-year-aftermath of the Mumbai attacks. Rivetting re-accounts of the heroism and terrorism on display that day an year ago. Harrowing accounts of broken dreams, wounded minds and lost hearts a year hence. The blood scrawl on the wall is clear. We shouldn’t forget even if we do not do anything about it.
Our media has stepped in to fill the vacuum left by our fleeing conscience. We owe them gratitude. After all, what better than a full black and white version of the Times of India to remind us that a year ago blood was spilt in our city. Sure the blood belonged to Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Jews – but it all looks the same in black and white.
Even if we go about 26/11 as though nothing happened, replacing the color of fear and terror from our minds with saffron or gray, there are a few who will not. These are those who don’t need the media’s excellent and free reminder service. The birds which escaped into the sky from the fire and smoke below – would have found other spots to nest. I know they have bird-brains and all… but I wonder if they would be the same today. The hundredyearold walls of an institution which had only witnessed heads of state and washed out celebrities a year ago, would now be searching for terrorists. The freshly swept floor of one of the most beautiful and historic train stations in the world, covered in blood then – swathed in gray fear today, would try to hide under the millions of feet. The million dancing lights in a cheery, vibrant and ecelectic street in Mumbai would try to forget what they lit that day. The inviting interiors and ever-ready beer mugs of a venerable institution of bacchanalia would now be standing with crossed-arms, sizing up anyone who tries to enter or pass by.
Because you see, the people of Mumbai might wear their hubris on their chest. It is what we Mumbaikars are so proud of. We go on, come hell, high water or LeT. But it was not the people on whom the attacks were aimed at on 26/11/2008. It was a living breathing historic gorgeous crazy city, like none other in the known universe, that the terrorists attempted to maim. The terrorists knew that. And so does the city.
People might move on. The bulletholes in the windows might have been sewed shut. Golden Dragon might have opened again. But the holes in the very fabric of what was Bombay are far more difficult to repair. This is the thing about terrorism. One can try to move on, but one can never go back.