“Platform No. 2 par aai hui local 5:34 minute ki Andheri jaane wali dheemi local hai. Yeh local sabhi sthanakopar rukegi.”
A muffled voice echoed in our minds as we watched the Breaking News scrolls flash on our TV screens- “Terror, Firing at CST station! Blood Shed, Terrorist attack, CITY on Red Alert!”
Memories shared together for years as students, friends, citizens bounced back as we saw our beautiful city fall apart.
CST station, a place we were so familiar with … It was hard to believe!
After college we would hop into the first class compartment giggling, gossiping when suddenly one of us would run out of the train, seconds before it started, and buy a parleG and maaza from the cold-drinkwala stall on platform 1.
We always had our ways to kill time until our Andheri local arrived! We often clustered around that jazzy and noisy weighing machine at the entrance which generated “a picture of an outdated actor/actress along with one’s fortune for the day and weight!” An ‘all in one’ brown cardboard ticket! One of us would always pick up a mid-day at the newspaper stall and all would huddle around it to solve crosswords together on the way back home.
These tiny moments flash before our glum faces today as we see our very own cold-drinkwala stall blown apart. All there is left is a broken blood stained board which reads:- “BISKUT- Rs. 10/-“, A silent weighing machine with its immobile colourwheel now generating a cry for help and a tired newspaper stall displaying mid-days with headlines:- Terror attack aftermath!
A movie at Metro, Eros or Sterling and a few hours at Mondy’s or leo’s (that’s usually what the town teens call it), discussing how good or bad it was common for all. Café Leopold, A rustic irani style resto-bar-café where people met to discuss work, celebrate bdays, chat…or most of the times just Chill… today stands still, lifeless, traumatized and still recovering!
Each felt a sentiment of pride to see The Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal Hotel stand confidently by the shore.
We frequently visited the grand hotel after college hours…its restrooms, bookshops. We sat at the coffee shop for hours gossiping, making ambitious plans, and vowing never to break this bond of friendship…We felt so secure within its antique structure, like we almost owned it!
A shiver runs down our spines to now see a faceless, dejected, raped city, still trying to recover from the abuse it went through on the 26th of November 2008 for 60 long hours…
For a moment, we all went through numerous mixed, muffled emotions of being cheated,angry, depressed, and agitated but at the same time numb to India's worst nightmare !!!