**** Readers please note: 'Gripped By Terror' is one long article. I have divided it into 6 sections, in 6 different blog posts. But it is to be considered as one article and read from the top most post, that is this one, to the bottom. It has been divided to make it easier for reading, and also so that you could leave comments at whichever point you feel like. Do not regard the time stamps, and do not read it from the post at 1:12 am. ****
Everything that’s in my head and heart. I’m just pouring it out, in as coherent a form as I can make it.
Gripped by terror is exactly what I was, since Wednesday, the 26th of November 2008.
Reason- Gunmen, terrorists, had opened fire at 11 locations in Mumbai, India.
Let me tell you how I came to know about it.
I had an exam on Thursday and was supposedly studying. I had fallen asleep over my books, when my phone buzzed at 10:55 pm. It was a message from a friend saying “Turn on the news.” I was a little irritated. “What turn on the TV?!” I said. But then I recalled that the last time I’d gotten a message like this.. it was from the same friend. And it was a few months back when there was a terrorist attack at the Mariott Hotel in Lahore. So I knew something bad had happened.
I switched on the telly to see pictures of the famous Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, in flames. Apparently, gunmen, terrorists, had opened fire at 11 locations in Mumbai, India.
“Its hardly news.” I replied to my friend. This was completely misleading of what was actually going on within me.
I was hooked. I could not drag my eyes away from the television. I don’t have any relatives and only one friend in Mumbai who stays far from the scene of crime. But I was glued to the TV and at 2 am in the morning, I was still watching.
It was only after several hours of watching, did I become conscious of what I was doing. Why was I so hooked? Was it because it was India? Maybe. That was when it dawned on me- this was a story like never before. This attack was completely different from anything that has taken place, not just in India, but anywhere in the world.
You know how people keep saying that terrorism is a cowardly act? In my opinion, this time it wasn’t. All the attacks we have had over the last few years, around the world, have been carried out by unknown assailants. At least no one knew who they were initially, and in a few rare cases, they were caught after tedious investigations.
All the previous major attacks we have heard of, have been hit and run. Bombs were placed and detonated from afar. Or it’s a suicide bomber who nobody expected would blow himself up, and not much could be found about the suicide bomber from his remains.
I asked my friend how he always seemed to be watching the news when something like this happens. He said that a friend’s friend of his had been shot dead. That’s how he knew.
I slept off some time around 3 am. When I woke up at 6, even before I opened my eyes, my hands reflexively reached for the remote. It had been about 12 hours since the crisis broke out. It was still not over.
Is this not different?
While going to school on Thursday morning though, I remembered another friend whose brother is in college in Mumbai. I asked her about it. She said he’s fine. Then she asked me something I really didn’t understand. She said, “Its happening all the way in Mumbai. Why do you care?”