July 11, 2006, was just another slow news day. At 6.30 pm, though, all hell broke loose. News came in that a bomb had gone off at Mahim station, just around the corner from the HT office. I was asked to check it out and I set off with a colleague, thinking it was a hoax.
What we saw at the spot left us stunned. It was raining and all I could see was people running helter-skelter, trying to get help for themselves and others. I rushed into the station, making my way through the crowd rushing out, but I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of corpses being carried out.
Stretchers were not available immediately, so residents of nearby hutments started dumping the bodies and body parts in gunny bags. The injured were pushed into passing vehicles and rushed to hospital even as cries for help echoed through the station.
I struggled towards the entrance and reached the ticket counter, but could go no further.
There was blood everywhere and in one corner, covered in layers of newspapers, was a man with a dislocated arm, his clothes torn to ribbons, writhing in pain. I couldn’t bear to look, but I was expected to get the facts and leave my emotions aside. I took my colleague’s hand to steady myself.
Every person I spoke to had something to say, but most couldn’t get the words out. The shock seemed to have made them incapable of speaking.
As I sat down at my computer later, trying to report the scene, I found that my hands couldn’t move and that my limbs were trembling.
I just couldn’t get the bloodbath out of my mind.
A year later, I experienced the same feeling when I began writing this piece.