"Yes Sir, i am talking to you, thanks a lot for your keen power of observation, which failed over the last 15minutes."
"What ??, No..what exactly will you see out of me at the next stop?..No..please explain !!"
Suraj would have gone on and on, if it wasn't for his colleague standing next to him, who intervened with a swarm of "Sorries" and "Chod naa yaar".
Travelling in Mumbai locals was an adventure everyday. Or so was told by every fellow mumbaikar, who chose to dab Davidoff over this stinking everyday experience of his life. So many people to observe, so many activities that keep happenings everyday, so many discussions, share bazaars, kirtans, The green card talk...wow !!
Ask Suraj. If he was in as bad a mood as he was today, chances are he would have removed your molars with just a minor hand effort.
Any ways, getting back to today. The day started with a call from the in-laws announcing their arrival by next week. The wife got so engrossed in the telephonic, she forgot all about breakfast. Not one to complain, Suraj made haste for office. Time was precious, headcount kept increasing in the bogies with each passing local, and you had to be early to earn your 3inches of floor space inside one.
Office happened. The boss shouted. Twice. Okay not that bad a day, will rank within top 100 bad days in office maybe.
"Suraj can you see me"
5minutes of obscene abuses followed by 15minutes of pep talk. Okay this makes an entry to the top 10.
He glanced at the calendar, 26th !! 4 days to meet the target and two clients had backed out already. Not a pretty situation. Maybe he should apply for a few more openings on naukri dot com. Oh damn the office firewalls.
When Suraj, started out here, he was the star of the team. He was good at presentations, charts, and was often praised for the virtue. Nowadays it acted as a bane for him. As fate would have it he had to make two of them for old Snooty senior, the super boss, before he wrapped up the day. He kept waving bye-byes to all the colleagues from the back of his head, as one by one exited. The day was coming to an end finally....or so he thought.
Suraj lit a cigarette and started out his hurried strut to the CST (Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus - the hub of central and harbour line railways for Mumbai locals). The watch suggested 9pm already. Another late worked up day. How much is he going to be able to take. The wife had called thrice already, but he was in no mood to entertain her. The family planning exercise was entering the serious stage. There had been a heated exchanges on that off late. In his mind, Suraj also was suspecting if his in-laws were coming in to gang up against him on the issue. Hell, it wasn't fair !! The only thing his side of the family was concerned with is how much money he sent home religiously. That was beginning to get difficult too. The dip in the stock market, made way for salary cuts, severance and things actually did look very bleak. Hell 2008, why wouldn't you end faster !!! It looked as if the whole universe conspired against him.
World weary, Suraj entered the big structure called as the CST. When he started off in the maximum city, he was too excited to see the CST. This is all they showed about Mumbai, in the old movies, and that scene made an impression on millions of small town kids like Suraj. Not now. The look of the crowd irritated him. As like everyone else in the crowd, he hated the crowd, not realising, he was a part of the crowd himself !!
He needed to take a leak before boarding the train. Suraj made it towards the smelly rest rooms. Just as he was about to enter the corridor, he bumped into a teenager. Bloody teenagers, always on the run, caring a damn for anyone else. This was different but. Something in the youngster's bag poked into Suraj's ribs and it hurt real hard. Ok...he couldnt take it anymore...the frustration had to give way..the anger had to pour in..and unfortunately on this guy......."Hey, Andhaa hai kya bey (are you blind)??" shouted Suraj seizing him from his backpack, that the kid wore.
The "Kid" here was a twenty something in a dark tee and cargo pants with a backpack on, and as he turned back, he tried removing something furiously from another bag, clutched in his hand. This "Thing" looked black and quite resembled an equipment Suraj had seen in most of his favourite action movies.
It would be hard to describe the bundle of emotions that seized Suraj at that very moment. He was sure this was no ordinary teenager. He was surprised with the sudden revelation of what could be a fire-arm. He was taken aback by the cold eyes, once the teenager turned back and stared at him. But out of all of them, what was most imminent was anger. Anger that was pent up since the morning. And that found vent first. The other emotions started falling in place while the anger was being physically demonstrated by our man.
The resilient eyes, instigated further hatred in Suraj. He caught the lad by the collar and blasted two hard slaps across his face. The kid was taken by surprise and made a mad dash at getting something out of the bag he was holding. Anticipating it to be a fire-arm, Suraj grabbed the guy down on his back and sat over him. Suddenly there was this loud deafening sound of gun shots. Suraj saw people from the lavatory running past him helter skelter. A sudden jolt with a spring like force threw Suraj quite a distance. The "Kid" surely knew his combat well, and it was only a matter of time before he would recover.
It was as much of a surprise to Suraj as it was to the teenager that he landed on his feet rather than his back, after his adversary had flung him in the air. The automatic Machine Gun was almost brandishing in full view now. The only other clear vision Suraj got was of the slowly departing train from the platform. Amidst the noise and commotion, he made a mad rush for it. The words of the "Kid" echoed from behind, "Abu Bhaai.....aage....neela shirt......maar".
The train had picked speed. Suraj caught on to an extended hand by an elderly but strong person. This hand came from heaven. Nothing mattered, the commotion, the blood, and he had already faced away from the view of the platform. The crowd inside the train was surprisingly calm, maybe nobody could think of a conversation, maybe they were all afraid, or maybe they all felt a little guilty of cheating death from so close, while witnessing a part of the massacre, that they left behind them. However they behaved well, almost as brothers, brothers united by a reckless attack. Suraj felt his pants. They were wet. You could not attribute fear as the cause. The body reacts differently to violence, to calamity. And these are rare cases in a lifetime. Hence nothing mattered.
The wife was in worse shape, than our man, who saw it all. She was angry at him for not having picked up her calls. She feared something worse had happened to him, and almost went into a shock. Suraj, had no time to retrospect, or normalise himself. He hugged her, comforted her, cooked themselves a dinner and after answering a thousand calls from anxious relatives, sat down before the T.V. It was 2 am. There was no office for sure tomorrow. Mumbai had shut down to terror. The news channels were showing several clippings of a young guy in a t-shirt and cargos walking into the CST with firearms along with an accomplice. Suraj's eyes went wide. The news focus shifted to a cafe in Colaba, where some firing had also happened and then the major gunfire at the Taj and Trident. Suraj contemplated calling the police. What use would that be ? Who would believe he fought with a gun weilding terrorist and lived to tell the tale. And more importantly was this information really required at this hour of calamity ?
Over the next few days, news channels dominated the idiot box. Suraj had the expression of a person who had a lot to share but was kept quiet to respect the gravity of the situation. As if it wasn't strange already, the "kid" was the only terrorist caught alive by the Mumbai police. Maybe Suraj's bad luck rubbed over the golden boy of cross border terrorism.
4th May 2010, Evening.
Suraj, kept the office bag on his sofa. He carelessly switched on the television. "Hangman or Not - Ajmal Kasab's case to be decided tomorrow." The dumbfu** news jockey kept repeating himself loudly, purely because of lack of content and stipulated show timings. The wife emerged, visibly angry.
"I should have got his throat that day, bloody terrorist !!" Suraj roared in mock anger, pointing towards the TV screen. Clearly, wifey wasnt amused one bit. Suraj bit his tongue. He had to keep the volume low, so that the baby doesn't wake up from his untimely slumber. After the usual exercise, they settled before the T.V while having dinner, and Suraj as usual sacrificed his viewer ship to "Baalika Vadhu".
Mohammed Ajmal Amīr Kasāb (Urdu: محمد اجمل امیر قصاب; born 13 July 1987) is a Pakistani Muslim terrorist who was involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Ajmal Amir is the only attacker captured alive by police and is currently in Indian custody. The Government of Pakistaninitially denied that Ajmal was from Pakistan, but in January 2009, it officially  accepted that Ajmal Amir Kasab was a Pakistani citizen. On 3 May 2010, an Indian court convicted him of murder, waging war on India, possessing explosives, and other charges.He was captured on CCTV during his attacks at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus along with another terrorist, Ismail Khan. Ajmal Amir reportedly told the police that they wanted to replicate theIslamabad Marriott hotel attack, and reduce the Taj Hotel to rubble, replicating the 9/11 attacks in India.
Ajmal Amir and his accomplice Abu Dera Ismail Khan, age 25, attacked the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) railway station.
Whatever you would choose not to believe. Whatever sounded incredible. Whatever happened and whatever according to you might never have happened.