November 30, 2008

The Last Vestiges of Sanity

It happened. Finally at my doorstep. The newspaper headlines that always seemed so distant happened just beside me; at the places I walk everyday. The Trident, The Taj, Leopold’s – everything was so much a part of the Mumbai I had come to live and love. Having my office in South Mumbai made me feel like a townie even after the travel every day on local trains. I felt I belonged. If it makes any sense to you, I felt like Shantaram.

I don’t know how many of you have read the book. Whether you love Mumbai or not you might love this book just for its story. I haven’t read many books which were written straight from the heart. I haven’t read many books where every word spoke of an emotional turmoil. Yes, maybe just maybe the author gets excited at the smallest of things. Maybe, his life is too exciting to be considered “normal” yet his loyalty, his friendship, his love and his heartbreaks are as real as it can get. I have seen my Karla, may be not at Colaba. I have been called back by Abdullah, maybe not at Hazi Ali, I have felt the Ecstasy of Mumbai, maybe not at his Bombay.

The characters – they were all so real. Karla, the woman for whom you bet everything - knowing fully well that behind her smiles the dagger is hidden. Lisa, the woman who loves you despite your faults. Abdullah, your friend who comes back for you from the dead and Khader – the superhero in your life for whom you have risked everything.

That night as calls started coming in, I started shaking. Every call was a reminder of what was going on. Every call told me that I could have been there. Fate, I do not know if she exists. But if she does, then she rolled the dice in my favour this time. I felt like a coward for being thankful that I wasn’t there and therefore every message that came in asking how I was seemed to mock at my impotency. For every message I sent out enquiring about friends and their families, there was at least ten whom I had forgotten. Have you seen “A Wednesday”? I kept remembering a scene where Naseeruddin Shah describes his shock at not seeing a familiar face one day in his regular compartment at the Local Train. I do not know when I return to Mumbai how many of such people I will not see.

They say everyone has their own way of dealing with trauma. I shrank back to my books. I re read Shantaram that night. I brought out the tub of ice cream after 7 long years from the refrigerator and in the chilly night of November, the afraid, impotent me read Shantaram and cried for the city I had come to love so much. Comfort food, sometimes, even that is of no use.
The next few days were horrible. Mumbai was everyone’s favourite topic. My cousin and one of my oldest friends was getting married and yet everyone was talking about Mumbai. My Mumbai, molested and left dying was the centre of every discussion. And I just kept silent.

The headache is terrible. The Crocin does not seem to have any effect. And yet there are words forming on my keyboard. Words that are asking me to go back as fast as I can, to stand once again at the Gateway and help my city stand up and be counted once again. Sometimes in hallucination we find our last vestiges of sanity.

15 comments:

B said...

So many ppl died in the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Very sad day.

We dont have any spirit left and its true. The feeling of numbness and resignation has always been misunderstood as mumbai's resilient spirit.

Mumbaikars are simply fed up of being treated this way :(

Rahul said...

>:D<

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@ Beryl - We have to go back to work tomorrow right? Maybe that's glorified as resilience.

@ Rahul - ?

Rahul said...

It seemed like you needed a hug.. you know, the jaadoo ki jhappi :D

The Soul of Alec Smart said...

I am far here, "safe" even, and yet I feel a sense of deja-vu as I read this. The morning after the Delhi blasts, I walked past the dilapidated Regal corridor, the serene Central Park and the tree-lined Barakhamba road. For the first time through that walk, I felt tired - and definitely not "resilient". My city had been molested, and it hurt like hell.

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@ Rahul - Thanks :) I needed it. I still need it :(

@ Neha - it's the same here. I empathize.

dhivya said...

:(

I know. Same here.

Pooja said...

The feelings are the same in everyone, and the way each of us react are different....the facts are the same....we are all hurt and horrified.

CJ said...

love the way u call it "my city" - its amazing how where you live can become so much a part of you...

Joy Forever said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joy Forever said...

I can understand how you feel. I am thousands of miles away from that city which I visited only once in my life, and yet for the last four days, every moment, every activity, every conversation is reminding me of Mumbai. As I walked around in Manhattan this Saturday, I seemed to see Mumbai in every corner, in every direction. While the politicians seem shamefully apathetic to the fate of the common people, you and I can do nothing but pray for ourselves and for those hurt or killed.

And maybe write blogs and vent our frustration.

Sandeep said...

Banj....loved this. In my 20 or so years of rememberable memory - I have never been shook as badly as this. Blogs, newspapers, channels, phone calls all chant an equal prose. I shift through each of them in search of strength, hope and security. Only to find loss and fear. As I write I see cross city coverage of anger potrayal across all metropolis' and I know this is transitory. May we find a permanence to peace.
And, I never believed I would have a nightmare of being chased by bullets and waking up to find myself a resident of a resilient (read weak) nation.

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@dhivya - What can I say? You have said it in your posts.

@ Pooja - stay safe in my homeland

@ Sugata - Blogging gives a temporary balm. :( And then all's forgotten.

@ Sandeep - Mumbai has stood up again as life has to go on.

The Nomad said...

Madhurjya, thanks for stopping by and thanks for the help.

I completely loved Shantaram,it's an outsider's view about this city and how he comes to love the city, which I so relate to.

I already see a few points of similarities here ... nomad, Pilani, Shantaram! :)

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@ Nomad - I do too. Guess a lot of years separates us though. Have been going through your blog.