Friday, December 12, 2008

Paranoid

It’s been over two weeks since the horrific events that unfolded in Mumbai. And I have wanted to write something about what has been happening in my city almost every day since it happened. But someone always beat me to what I wanted to say and said it much better. So I am going to just stick to talking about how it has affected me personally.

To start with, there is this lingering feeling of ‘that could have been us’. The night the attack started happened to be our anniversary. And for the first time in three and a half years, we left a sleeping Ayaan at home with the maid and headed out for a romantic candle-lit dinner for two. At a restaurant not very far from another five star hotel (JW Marriot), which is rumoured to have been a terror target too.

And then there is this lingering feeling of ‘it could still be us’ Because suddenly it seems like something like this is just around the corner. You might be unlucky enough to run slam bang into it or your good fortune might allow you to dodge a bullet, like so very many people we know directly and indirectly did two weeks ago. But the shadow of possibility exists and it still haunts. And the paranoia is hard to shake in its entirety.

A colleague got married on 6th December in Chennai. The Sixth Of December. And a group of us colleagues had planned to travel down from Mumbai for the wedding. But then 26/11 happened and there were mutliple media articles on terror threats to airports and corporate travel advisories issued against travelling that day. So we didn’t go… and felt foolish later, since nothing happened…

And I find myself thinking twice before going shopping to a big mall. And wondering if five star hotels (with their retinue of bag and car checkers) are a soft target, what about schools and offices? And looking for the location of the emergency exit when I am in a building. And feeling just the slightest bit uneasy about the the fact that we are taking 6 flights across the country this winter vacation.

Last weekend, we were thinking of going to the local market to pick up some stuff. But then it struck me that the market was very close to a suburban railway station and who knows whether that might not be the next target. So I suggested that we avoid going there together. So that atleast if anything did happen, atleast Ayaan would have one of his parents.

Morbid thoughts these but I can’t stop them from popping into my head at will. But what if the worst were to happen? In the last couple of weeks, I have come to realise how unprepared we are for it and its implications for Ayaan:

  • We don’t have a will.
  • Jai manages all our money and other than the ATM PIN, I have no idea how it is invested.
  • We had only written out our numbers in the vernacular and pasted it on the kitchen notice board for easy access for the maids. But what if something happened to the both of us? They have no other contact for anyone else.

I know people directly affected have much bigger problems and a bigger right to mourn. And my heart bleeds for them. I also feel for this city that has been my home for over eight years. But at a more selfish and personal level, I mourn for the almost careless sense of security and disregard for mortality with which I have lived my life upto now. For the sense of surety that I made the right choice when I brought my son into this crazy world. And for my anniversary, which will forever be known as the day that Mumbai was attacked...

23 comments:

  1. I can truly empathise with you. When 9/11 happened here, I know of working mothers who quit to be home with their kids cos they felt, if they were gonna be next, might as well leave the kids with good memories. I thought they were overthinking or being morbid...but now can understand!

    Sorry that the anniversary date seems tainted to you. But you are ALIVE now and I think maybe from now you could celebrate that date for being alive!

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  2. missed the fact that it was ur anniversiary Ro! Belated Belated Happy Anniversiary!

    ok - i know it is lame but then my birthday will always be rememebrd as the day MGR died......

    Hugs...am just like you in money portion of it..if something happens to teh Mr. I wont know how much was there and ow much was invested and if i have anythng left at all..u know am thatbad!

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  5. We lost our innocence, our sense of security. Sounds bizarre but Delhi Public School has installed metal detectors and scanners in their school!

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  6. oh shucks Ro.. your anniversary too.. I think every person should live with a sense of security.. i don't think that's being "careless" I ama amazed at your courage in dealing with this on a day-to-day basis. I don't know what I would have done.

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  7. What a bittersweet memory I am sure that day will always represent.

    If I became jumpy about other drivers on the road after a minor rear-ending accident, I can only catch a glimpse of what you must be going through. There is just something about being confronted with the illusion of our security, isn't there? I can't say I completely understand what you are going through, but my heart and love and prayers are definitely with you right now.

    Also, make sure someone else knows your blogger password, while you're taking care of all those other little details. Someone has to be able to let your world-wide friends know if something ever does happen to you, right? Heaven forbid.

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  8. very poignant post - well written. a few days after 26/11, one of my colleagues who was in his early 40-s passed away suffering a heart attack. 2 events like that coupled together and our mortality really hit me then, and i had thought of the very same things you put down in your post...on the implications all this would have for karan...

    some lessons i personally learnt:

    1. Dont ever take life for granted
    2. spend more quality time with family
    3. write a will
    4. share investment information with spouse
    5. share dreams with spouse
    6. save for the future not just in terms of money but in terms of the enviroment(although you may die tomorrow, you may very well live to be a 100 and if not, your children or your childrens children will)

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  9. so true Rohini.

    you know just the other day I was telling M and that we should get our will made.

    Also i told him i want to put it in writing with a common friend that if we both die, Cubby should grow up with my parents!

    sounds crazy, but i couldnt help but think of it.

    and as for bringing them in this world, they are our only hope for better future!

    belated anniversary wishes Rohini. May both of see spend zillion more together! :)

    cheers!

    abha

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  10. [Just another mommy] And then there's also the urge to keep working so that he is left as well provided for as possible :(

    [IBH] Yeah, now I am nagging him to make me an Excel sheet with all our money details

    [Ritu] And I find myself wishing my son's school would too :(

    [Dottie] I don't feel particularly courageous. Paranoia is not a very brave state of mind :(

    [Talena] Thanks, T. And that's a good idea about the blogger password.

    [Lawyeramma] That's a good list!

    [Abha] Horrible thoughts these but best to be prepared...

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  11. i feel so horrible for those people who died so suddenly.. makes me realise how quickly we can all just go.

    sending a quick e-hug to ya.

    Happy Anniversary!!

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  12. not really Rohini - this way lots of us will remember to wish you on your anniversary: life is about remembering and celebrating the good times, the good milestones.
    I know exactly what you mean when you talked about being 'unprepared': and it's a lesson well-learnt.

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  13. well-said Nino, Life is all about joys and sorrows and how do we cope with them.

    Regards,
    Atreyee

    http://atreyeechowdhury.blogspot.com/

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  14. Hug.
    And I second and third what JAM and Nino's mum said.Happy Anniversary!

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  15. Happy Anniv!

    May the madness disappear (one can always hope right?)

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  16. Sorry it had to happen on your anniv and glad that you are safe. I guess you appreciate the time you spend doing things that you love more... because you never know what will happen next.

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  17. [Grafx] Exactly. There is no way to be prepared for something like that!

    [Nino's Mum/ Ateryee/ MG] Thanks for that positive thought :-)

    [Choxbox] Thanks :-)

    [Mosilager] The sad thing is that such stuff only shakes you up temporarily and then you are back to old patterns...

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  18. Gosh, so much to do and I know it won't get done! The will, for instance. It's easy to find ppl to give news of us to, in this city, and say R gets everything. We know where each others' documents probably are.

    Still scary.

    You guys take care.

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  19. It was horrible and ghastly, but terror apart, life is uncertain in any case. These events do remind us of the things we need to do while we can.
    May you have many many more happy anniversaries. Shadows fade with time, and we need to strive for happiness particularly in these difficult times.

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  20. Ro, you've written exactly what I've been thinking. You live in Mumbai and I'm in Chennai, but the feelings are mutual. What a horrid feeling of living in our own home and being this insecure!

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  21. so completely identify with this post, Ro.

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  22. So true, Ro. We've started avoiding malls and multiplexes; if it's a festival or national holiday we steer clear of all public places, I even kept chubbocks home for the first day after the attack and have plans to check if his school is going to have evacuation drills...

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