Years ago, on this day - that is the 26th of November, I was driving back from Powai really late. I had the radio on. Was a little sad because my flatmates were moving back to Delhi. My living situation was changing again. I was in flux at work.
Some songs on the radio were good. As I drove past Powai lake with the ghostly silhouette of the Renaissance hotel on the other side, the songs on the radio stopped. Some DJ with a sober voice that was choking back panic, talked about a shooting at Colaba. I rolled my eyes at the heavy drama DJs resort to. "Enough of the build up!", I thought. "Start the music." I thought. But over the next ten minutes or so, I got the sense that the shooting the DJ was referring to (and the one I had assumed) was not a film shoot. Some people had started shooting in the Taj and killed people. Wait. They had been to Leopold earlier. Oh wait. Had they also shot people at CST?
It was scary and it was late and I was still far from home. Suddenly the routine, risk police personnel you generally see on the roads late at night seemed more ominous. I drove in, dashed inside my house, and just stood there. A little frozen. My parents came out from the bedroom. Mom was crying. Dad said very seriously that this time "they'd gone too far."
At that time, I did not know of Kasab or who those guys were and why they'd come. I didn't know anything except that I loved my city so so so much and it was dying and breaking and bleeding. I didn't know that I had lost a friend to the shootings at Leopold. I didn't know that I would leave Bombay soon after.
Many years have passed. Thinking about the time in between - the collective gulping of remorse, regret, helplessness, anger, unease, hope that the city engaged in - is futile. I remember vaguely what happened to my life after that. I remember vaguely of what I saw, the speeches politicians made, the jokes on Facebook on 'the spirit of Bombay', etc. I remember vaguely but I am a little more determined to hang on to amnesia.
Anyway, today, I went for a run in the park behind my house. There's a dark stretch in the park that I run through. I love it because it is sparsely populated. I sometimes look up at the moon when I run. I like the city lights in the lake beside the running track. Today, the moon was a plump crescent. As I jogged through the patch, I saw a man in teh shadows. He was skipping. He skipped fluidly and rhythmically. He moved liked a song. He used one of those plastic ropes that are smooth and slick with some kind of a latex-like coating. The moonlight glistened on his rope and he looked like he was steadily jumping over little dribbles of a lunar stream. The DJ on the radio that I was listening to at the time was talking about a movie. Incidentally, the movie's called, "Dear Zindagi."
What can you make of it?
I don't know. I don't know how I can want to be away from a city and yet know in my bones that there is no other place I'd rather die. I don't know why that man skipping on a shiny piece of rope and a title called 'Dear Zindagi' made me stop in my tracks and throw pebbles in a pond. I don't know why I went off home, hugged my mom and took her out for coffee to Bandra, my favorite nook in the world. I don't know why I'm relieved for this night when I take, yet again for granted, the option to run alone in the dark unarmed. And the guy skips away without being chased or hurt. I don't know why I am grateful for our capacity to remember and our willingness to forget.
I don't know. And when I don't know stuff, I usually turn to poetry. (Or something poetic at the very least.) This is what I found.
I will go to my own Sun.
And if I am burned by its fire,
I will fly on scorched wings.
- - Segovia Amil