I survived the 7/11 Mumbai train bombings with nothing more than a deep cut in the middle of my head, slashed left wrist and splinters all over the left side of my body. Most of the scars have faded and those that remain are not so prominent. What hasn't faded is the memory of that almost surreal moment the bomb went off.
My day was a usual one. I worked at a bank and had to reach Pali Hill in Bandra by 8 am, which meant travelling in the Mumbai local just when the rush hour was starting. Like a large part of Mumbai's population, I didn't have my roots in the city. I got transferred to the city from my hometown Jaipur in April 2005. The only reason I didn't try to get the transfer order changed to somewhere nearby was because my elder daughter wanted to study in Mumbai. I have two daughters, and in 2005 I moved with them and my wife to the city and with that started my daily commute from Borivali to Bandra.
On July 11, 2006, a day before my elder daughter's 19th birthday, I took the usual Bandra-Borivali slow train from platform number two. It was just a tad bit empty as I entered, so I moved to the right-hand side door and stood near the edge. Those who take the Mumbai local trains every day will tell you it is a luxury. It was perhaps this innocuous little move that saved my life. The train filled up fast and somewhere between Khar and Santacruz (third station from Bandra, while going towards Borivali) it blew up.
"Nothing in life can prepare you for something like this."
Over these nine years, many people have asked me what did it feel like? Some have looked me straight in the eyes full of curiosity, some with sadness and some with disbelief. After all, somewhere we all believe that bomb blasts don't happen to us, they are what we hear about in news happening to other people.
The memory is pretty clear - I remember deafening noise and blinding white light followed by everything going blank in a split second. And I remember thinking of my mother as I let out a scream. I don't know how long it took me to regain consciousness, but when I did I was lying on the tracks covered in blood. I could see several mangled bodies hanging from the compartment and my first reaction was to move my limbs and see if they were all fine. People started rushing to help and I remember being taken to a government hospital in Santacruz East in an auto rickshaw. There was blood and mangled bodies wherever one looked. The corridor of the hospital was filling up with corpses very fast - I saw several men being brought in withering in pain and in seconds they were lifeless. Nothing in life can prepare you for something like this. In those moments you realise how feeble human life is and how naive we are when we think it cannot happen to us.
The conviction of those accused might bring some relief to families of those who lost their loved ones. But, innocents continue to fall prey to this war they never signed up for and till it ends (however wishful that may sound) there will never be true closure for victims of any terrorist attack both dead and alive.