Monday, September 15, 2008

Narrow shave

I hate working on Saturdays. My apathy begins right in the morning when my husband and brother in law give me sleepy looks...but I have no excuse. I have to work 6 full days a week, whether I like it or not. And all kinds of work load on to your shoulders on Saturdays as there is no "tomorrow morning" to put it off. 13th September was one of the rare Saturdays I had winded off things within good time. 6:15 in the evening, my sole goal in life was to get back. Things were as normal as they could have been. While I was crossing the road, I casually overheard the traffic policeman... he was commenting to a passerby, "Wonder why outside traffic is being allowed to enter Connaught Place, now that there have been blasts in Karol Bagh..." [Karol Bagh is quite close to Connaught Place, where my present office is located.] My ears prick up.."Blasts?" And the answer came straightaway. The sound was louder than anything I can think off. Deafening is too less said. It just robs you off your senses. As the black smoke rose higher, chaos reigned supreme. People running everywhere, directionless. The traffic had come to a standstill. The police somehow herded people to one side, urging us not to panic. "Go back where you came from, please take refuge" was the plea. I was perhaps in the innermost layer of the crowd, right against a building. I felt like sitting down. Somebody dragged at my arm.. it was a familiar face, although I dont know the name of the person. He is in my office, works in another department. He literally dragged me back to office. "You cannot move out," he told me. I knew there was no point arguing.

Back in office. Most of us who had ventured out were back. Ringing phones. Spreading rumours. Panic. Insecurity. Amidst the mess, some of the cool headed persons trying to work. Deadlines do not get altered because of bomb blasts. Some resorted to television for details, some to the internet. We huddled around someone who had put on an online television channel. I could perhaps fathom what I had just escaped. It was a crisis situation and something brought us together as we waited for time to pass. Someone was trying to crack some joke to break the subdued tension, but to no effect.

We contacted people who had not returned. Especially our draughtsman, Manoj. 6:15 he too had left and 6:20 the bomb had gone off. He was not answering his phone, neither were people at his home taking the trouble when we tried the residence number. The tension was showing on all our faces, words failed us.. but we were not prepared to give in, we kept trying.

Slowly, we decided to get back home. People clubbed together, so that nobody had to go alone. Especially the people who normally commute by the metro. Metro was discontinued ... neither was anybody eager to venture in. Finally, we were all home. Till late at night, I received calls, messages, people whom I never expected to look for me took the trouble to try incessantly to get through to me. Yes, Manoj was also located finally. All friends, relatives, acquaintances, all seemed to be reasonably safe. It was an experience of a lifetime..