13 July, 2006

Clockwork City

It all happened like clockwork. I sit down. The train lurches forward, a jerk, another one even sharper, and I'm chugging along. And my eyes scan the overhead luggage rack. Clockwork orange, red, blue, green, yellow, purple, vibgyor.

It's been a little more than twenty four hours since news of the bomb blasts ripped through the city, perhaps even more piercingly and with even more deadly effect than the blasts themselves. I was lucky: I saw the whole thing unfold in the relative safety of my office, watching the TV channels unfold their stories. So much confusion: seven blasts or eight, seven stations or eight, handmade or RDX, Srinagar or Pakistan, dead or alive? Questions simply didn't have any answers, and since going home with the city panicking around us was out of the question, the only consolation (it seemed) was walking over to the Press Club for a spot of whisky. But after the whisky finished and news came in that the Central Line was working fine, trains were running, people were going home, it was time to trudge back to that imposing Victoria Terminus, Living World Heritage like the city it belongs in, and stand on the platform, waiting for a train. I sit down. The train lurches forward. I look up sharply at the luggage rack.

Like clockwork.

A friend drives his car over Peddar Road, and listens to me patiently, while I explain how I felt travelling on the train last night and this morning, after the incident. How I was scared with this strange feeling of uncertainty, which was in a way even more discomfiting than knowing (but then, that's such a cliched thing to say, isn't it?). He shrugs and replies, "It's all Fate. You can't worry about that. Hell, anything like that can happen right now, if it's meant to - " and he swerves dramatically on the road, to prove his point, "You can't stop it if it's meant to happen."

"Is it really all that simple and easy to explain?" I scowl, refusing to believe that that's all there is to it.

My friend nods in agreement. "Yep. O, you'll have the TV channels interviewing people, and the people will say that the government should have warned them in advance, and the Opposition will demand the government's resignation, and all of that will carry on for a week. After a week, you'll get used to it. You won't even bother about the train."

"I haven't bought my First Class Pass yet," I reply, "Think this was an omen not to?"

He shrugs and grins in reply.

I have nothing to say to that. After that not-so-enlightening conversation, I took the train again to come back home, and once again, like clockwork, I looked up at the luggage rack, at the bags, umbrellas, tiffin cases, satchels, briefcases there, and silently prayed that none of them was a bomb in disguise. Perhaps my friend is right. Perhaps, a week later, after all the TV interviews are over, after the CBI or whoever takes the investigation into its shady recesses, after the Opposition has gained enough mileage for the forthcoming municipality polls, all of this will indeed be over. Dawood and Shakeel have flown away. We may never even know who the perpetrators of these blasts were. A week later, as Bombay resumes its clockwork pace, we may simply be rushing foward and backward to work again, not sparing a look at the luggage rack, not caring, not fearing, not hesitating.

A week later, perhaps. Not tomorrow, at any rate.

3 Comments:

Blogger Φ said...

hmmm hope media doesn peneterate into the lives of people who are affected and make a show out of it..our media is all known for that..

if this dies out like a whimper there is nothing bad like that..

13/7/06 02:00  
Blogger Dan Husain said...

V, part reason for us to be here together on this blog is to ensure that this doesn't die like a whimper. We're here to stave off this menace.

Thanks for contributing.

13/7/06 02:09  
Blogger lovemarks said...

At one level this 'moving on' is seen as Mumbai's 'spirit' and is applauded, but this very thing can also become the beginning of the end... unless it is spoken about. Wherein I agree with Dan.

13/7/06 09:28  

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