When I heard about the blasts that took place in Delhi, I frantically made a call back home and thankfully my family members were fine.
After discussing the bombing, the number of casualties, the somber shadow that had been cast over the celebrations and the evil ideology that drove terrorists to kill the innocent, we changed the subject to family matters and about Diwali.
Once the call finished and the family bedded down, I switched on my laptop to find more details on the blasts. The pictures were gruesome; blood, shattered glass, traumatised people being carried out in stretchers and bodies covered in white sheets lay naked before my eyes.
It was then the horror of it all washed over me like a bad Halloween dream. SarojiniNagar, where the blast was at its worst, was the shopping center I had frequented since my college days, bargaining for clothes , chilling out with friends at the roadside resturants , having engine trouble in the middle of a hot day right at the crossing and causing a traffic jam, feeling helpless till two beefy, sweaty men pushed my car to the curb.
The memories raced through my mind, they had been all happy memories and yet somehow now it seemed obscene to remember the good times I had had there. It felt as if I was remembering a happy woman before she was violated. It seemed so ugly and my heart felt tremendous grief for my fellow Dellhiites and I understood what my mother had sadly said – Diwali doesn’t have much meaning for Delhiites this year ; candles will be lit for the dead and not the living.
Delhi is no stranger to violence – from the Partition of 1947 to the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. In 2001, militants attacked our parliament. Yet, among it all, we never distinguished between Hindus, Muslims or Sikhs. We’d exchange gifts, celebrate festivals and live life as usual. Recent events have shaken both Hindus and Muslims, coming close to both Diwali and Eid-ul-Fitr.
My city lies wounded and in the dark on the eve of Diwali – the festival of lights.