Katha Bazaar at noon: Labourers loading and unloading goods from trucks, the supervisors yelling out instructions. It is a busy weekday and there seems to be very little time for Thursday’s verdict to seep in. But a few in the milling crowd have tales to share — of how they survived one of the worst tragedies to have struck them.
Jagannath Mhatre, 51, tea stall owner
The blasts left Mhatre with a blurred vision in his left eye. "That day was horrifying. I did not know it was a bomb blast till my wife told me about it the next day in hospital", said Mhatre, a resident of Vashi. He says a pointed object hit his eye.
Saving his eye cost Mhatre more than Rs 85,000 and he ended up a spending a major part of the last thirteen years repaying debts to relatives for the expenses he incurred.
When the splinter hit him. Mhatre thought that was the end of the world. But 13 years later, he can’t stop thanking god — at least he survived.
Sambhaji Gawli, 42, peon
Sambhaji Gawli has been serving drinking water in the Ambernath local train for the past 10 years. It is his way of thanking god. He is among those who survived the Katha Bazaar blast. He has injured his right leg but is glad to have survived to tell the tale. “God saved my life, so I am repaying in the form of charity," said Gawli, a peon in one of the firms at the Matruchhaya building near which the RDX-laden scooter was parked. "After lunch, I generally came down for tea. That day I cursed myself for following my routine", said Gawli, a resident of Ulhasnagar. Gawli, who has been working with Raja and Company, a soap and oil manufacturing firm, for the last 27 years still walks with a limp due to the injuries he suffered 13 years ago. "I need eight stitches," he said as he recalled how he ran helter-skelter looking for help to calm his bleeding leg.
"Occasionally, after tea. I went to have paan but that day I did not. Later, I heard the paanwala had died in the blast", said Gawli, thanking god once again for letting him live for his wife and five children.