Anushka had been home for three hours. Spending an afternoon at home was relaxing and rejuvenating. She was glad that her job offered her flexible work timings once every week. She cleaned up, made her weekly trip to the salon and was now cooking dinner in anticipation of Ayaan’s arrival on the daily train that they boarded from Churchgate together at 17:50, one which reached the Santa Cruz station at 18:25.
Ansuhka looked at the clock which had already struck 18:24 and picked up some speed. Her rented accommodation wasn’t too far from the station, in lieu of convenience. She could hear the siren of the train approaching the Santa Cruz station.
Soon thereafter, she felt a shudder run down her spine. A deafening sound had drowned out the trains horns and managed to shake her window panes. It was common to encounter the noise of firecrackers on every street in Mumbai. But this sound was different. It was louder and made every accessory in her apartment tremble. It seemed as if everything around her was just as terrified.
There was utter chaos on the streets below. Scores of people ran in all directions, crying out for help. A little further away, inside the station, the train had stopped moving. Smoke emanated from the train compartments and warning bells were being sounded.
Ansuhka rushed out of her apartment and ran towards the station, all the while hoping and praying for Ayaan’s safety.
All her fears had been realised as she entered the station to move towards the burning train. There had been a BOMB BLAST.
Struggling to move in the opposite direction from the crowd, she eventually managed to reach the train and ran towards the First Class Compartment that Ayaan and she always travelled in.
There were no remnants of the compartment. It had been shredded to pieces by the force of the bomb. Blood and limbs had flown away from the compartment of the train to every corner of the station. A sickly smell filled the air. Human bodies lay scattered around. Most were dead bodies, but a few showed some signs of life.
Anushka felt nauseated with the sights and smell, but continued sifting through the pile of bodies and debris to find Ayaan. Her feet were soaked with blood and tissue debris, as she trudged along, towards the far end of the train. As she scrolled past the numerous bodies that lay scattered around, she felt a tug on her denims. She turned around to find him lying there. His feet crushed under debris from the train and his body covered with a mixture of blood, dirt and grime. He could barely speak and was enduring an immense amount of pain. His face had been burnt and so had parts of his body. His clothes were charred exposing his naked body which was grievously injured and bleeding.
Anushka didn’t know how to react. She cried for help, but none was forthcoming. She tried to lift the debris off his legs, but didn’t have the strength to do so. Feeling helpless, she knelt besides Ayaan and sobbed.
Ayaan brushed her hair aside, like he always did, motioned her to come closer and kissed her one final time. Soon thereafter, he ceased to respond and breathe.
As help began to pour out from all unexpected quarters, Anushka lay there kneeling besides Ayaan, sobbing. A variety of emotions swept through her body in that instance. Anger, sorrow, fear, helplessness. All of which were drowned out by the sheer magnitude of the events that had transpired.
(Seven bomb blasts in a span of eleven minutes had shaken the entire city and country. One of the countless terror attacks in the country since the turn of the century. An audacious bid to derail the smooth functioning of the city and ingrain terror in the minds of its countless citizens. Owing to inaccessibility to the blast site, rescue operations were delayed and inefficient. Bystanders and other passengers on the train helped transport the salvageable victims to the nearest hospitals. Notwithstanding the limited resources, the doctors managed to salvage a large number of critically wounded patients. The death toll rose to 209 people in the days that ensued the blast. A cowardly act to prove a redundant point.)