Friday, January 23, 2009

A Letter to a Landmark

Dear Taj,

The dust has settled, the debris cleared, blood stains whitewashed, candles have been lit, marches and speeches are over. You stand strong while your core is shattered, a symbol in a way, of the Indian stoic resilience.

You have always welcomed me so graciously and when you needed help, I was unable to be by your side. I wept invisible tears of anguish when I saw you and those you held in your arms being ravaged so ruthlessly and berated my general helplessness.

You are so grand and so beautiful; I have always been in awe of you since my childhood. I always wanted to see you in person someday and it happened on my first trip to Mumbai for a job interview. A friend had invited me for tea and I accepted just because it gave me an opportunity to see you. Your grand staircase, beautiful paintings, chandeliers dazzled me. The view of the lighted Gateway from the Sea Lounge was ethereal in the evening. The tea and cakes were heavenly; the person playing the grand piano at the front was playing some hauntingly familiar tunes.

Going to you was an aspirational journey, a raise, a few extra dollars earned from a trip outside India, special occasions and the many more milestones we had yet to celebrate. Your welcoming ambience reaffirmed our belief in ourselves, that we could come back for more when some more of our aspirations are fulfilled.

Dear VT,

You are the symbol of Mumbai, the busiest place with teeming millions passing through you everyday, the beautiful facade serene and timeless. I have passed through you so many times, always in a hurry, not really looking around to see the details. On the day your floors were spattered with blood and bodies, I saw your structure in relief - familiar and yet shockingly unfamiliar in its new avatar - a terror struck place. The odd passer by, families waiting for a long distance train to their home town, vendors, and policemen, here now and gone the next - wiped out by a massive wave of hate eliminating life forever.

Masses of humanity still flow through you, perhaps a little quicker than before as if fearing the aura of death that hangs over you. Life must go on, those who pass through you must think and they must also fleetingly think how quickly life can end even in the most common everyday places

I pray for both of you and those who died in and around you, I pray that we recover our faith in humanity, I pray that we live with hope and not with fear, I pray for Baby Moshe whose parents were killed without reason, I pray for peace and the mundane predictability of daily living.

Happy Republic Day.

1 comment:

Uma said...

Short, sweet and touching... Left a tear and smile on my face