Renovations at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Colaba may wipe out signs of the 26/11 attacks, but the mental scars of some of its employees are yet to heal.
Even after a year’s counselling, some of the Taj staff who witnessed the attack show signs of trauma, through sleeping disorders, fear of loud sounds, darkness and action scenes in films.
Within five days of the attacks, the hotel management had arranged for 20 counsellors who conducted therapy sessions for 540 affected employees.
While 90 per cent of them have overcome the trauma, four counsellors continue to visit the Taj hotel in Colaba and Taj Lands End in Bandra on alternate days for the remaining staff.
One of the most difficult cases for the counsellors has been that of a 35-year-old kitchen help who blames himself for the death of his colleague-cum-friend.
The deceased had sought a transfer to Mumbai on his insistence and November 26 had been his first day at work.
“His death brought him here,” the traumatised staffer kept repeating during therapy.
Middle-aged and elderly employees showed quicker recovery. “Many youngsters went into denial,” said a counsellor.
A 27-year-old employee remained expressionless throughout the therapy sessions. When he finally spoke, he said: “I can’t lose this job. I have a loan to repay.”
A young female employee, whose father also worked at the Taj kitchen and died in the attack, refused counselling and sought a transfer.
Her father had asked her to wait while he prepared a sandwich for her. When the firing began, she called on her father’s cellphone to check if he was safe.
The phone ring inadvertently gave away his hiding place to the terrorists.