I don’t know the definition of being right winged or left winged; I only understand being reasonable and logical. To this I have always taken pride on myself. But to err is human.
It was 2008 & the world was shattered from the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. Terrorism is sinful in every manner and it took days to bring it under control. Everybody’s life in India changed after that – knowingly or unknowingly. The ones who knew were not alive to confirm. And the ones who didn’t know, well they didn’t know; including me!
I was in Pune and we were about to start with our 7th semester of engineering when the attacks took place. Exams were forgotten & it was only news and us all day. I went through a psychotic breakdown during this time. Everything ends and so did the attack and our exams. It was time to visit home after a good long year. But it was not me anymore. Everywhere I went, everyone I met, a kind of an unknown anticipation of disaster followed me. The only thought that crossed my mind all the time was death. But there is nothing in the world which home and family can’t fix and I was fixed too; or that’s what we all thought then. The day came to return to Pune and resume college.
The eyes see what the mind wants to! It was the same old routine. Fly from Agartala – halt at Kolkata – land in Mumbai – cab to Pune. There was nothing new except my recently stitched mind and clouded judgment. Many of the major airports in India were still red alert. There were precautionary sms from airport authorities on self vigil and awareness. There was a fellow passenger in my flight whom I found very suspicious. In the overall flying time of more than 3 hrs I kept on eyeing him, praying to all the Gods and kept on shivering thinking that anytime now the flight could be high jacked. Needless to say my judgment was based on his religion. While travelling to Agartala with a broken mind it was still easy as father was with me. But I was by myself while returning to Pune. My paranoia rose to extreme heights every time the passenger moved in his seat or looked back and forth or whenever he got up; even if it was to stretch his legs. The only reason I was not crying was to stop triggering the inevitable turn of events and to postpone death for some more time if possible.
I was not ready to believe my luck when we landed in Mumbai safely and on time. Yes, half relieved I was but I was still sure that he might trigger something in airport. The more I thought on this thread the surer I got. Of course yes! It was only a flight of passengers then but the airport hosts a much bigger crowd. I stopped paying attention to my surroundings. I only wanted to collect my luggage and leave the premises. After exchanging a series of panic stricken glare at my watch & the conveyor belt, I finally spotted my luggage. It was my ticket to life, approaching me every moment. But I couldn’t lift any of my suitcases and on time. So, after a couple of tries I had to let them go to collect in the next round. But suddenly, a young pair of hands, a few steps away from me, approached, took hold of both the luggage and took them off the belt and signaled at me. As I approached the young fellow, I stopped feeling my legs and my pace slowed down. I was not ready to face reality as it turned out to my fellow co-passenger. He put up both the luggage in the trolley, smiled and went back to looking out for his own. I mumbled out a feeble ‘Thank You’ which went unheard in the busy air around.
In the cab, I found myself crying profusely & uncontrollably. Not that by crying I could say sorry to him or falsify what happened. But I had fallen in my own eyes. I couldn’t figure out a way of redeeming myself to me and I couldn’t bare that. I tried to fool myself into thinking it all a dream but there was no dream. With clenched fists I could only punch myself & cry my way ahead to Pune.
As I got down from the cab, it occurred to me that I never got a look at his face; the face of the person whom I mistook as a terrorist. This was the last step to the healing of my broken mind and consciousness; once and for all!