It was perfect Sunday morning. A cool breeze was blowing in full swing amidst the chirping sounds of beautiful birds. The sky was flaring up as it seems it got traits of budding adolescents. Anshul was sleeping unfazed of beautifully adorn surroundings outside.
Suddenly a loud thud alerted the subconscious mind of Anshul. He opened his eyes, rolled over in all direction to find the source of the thudding sound, but in this wee hour at 4:15 am, what may cause thud had, in fact, frightened him a bit. He, on finding Urmi, in her deep sleep beside him and nothing unusual, looked around again but couldn’t notice anything suspicious. He, however, stepped up and opened the curtains only to see the enticing beauty of Yamuna riverfront. Windows pane was getting swung by a mild cool breeze. The prevailing condition was sufficient enough for nature lover Anshul to allay the fear from the mind.
“Aha! What a wonderful climate is!” he whispered pulling the chair down from one corner of the balcony.
It was enough for Urmil to get awakened. She opened her eyes but couldn’t find him besides.
“Anshul, …..Anshul…, are you there?” She called on laying herself down on the bed.
Finding no response, she got up and just peeped in Balcony. On seeing him enjoying the beautifully adorn environment outside, she went to Anshul and murmured gulping down the air with full of her tidal capacity, “Didn’t you enjoy the morning sleep, Anshul. Are you ok or just..”
He reciprocated by saying, “Come on, darling, enjoy the beauty of nature.”
“What’s the reason, you got up so early today!” she exclaimed.
“Nothing as such, darling. Some weird sound had, in fact, alerted me. On getting up, I found it was due to windows pane but see how beautiful the environment been today! So I thought to hang around for a few minutes here. Okay just leave it. Sometimes we should get up a little earlier also so as to witness this aesthetic environs. Just check what’s the time now” he requested her.
“It’s only 4”30, still we can sleep few hours before involving ourselves in nitty-gritty of life. Let’s go. I am feeling sleepy.”
By asserting her choice which was cropping up in this wee hour of soothing Sunday, Urmil tried to get dragged herself down to bed after an unsuccessful bid to get freed from his arm. But the way he had armored her, was not bettered by her.
“What nonsense you are doing here sitting idle, be side with me and have a great time. It’s such a wonderful morning, why to waste time. Sunday doesn’t come so easy, have reverence of what others seek if you are unable to fall prey to one’s wishes.” seductively she whispered by tossing her silky hair over his face.
Sensing his demeanour, she requested again and pleaded, “ Yaar, let me sleep for over half an hour more, afterwards I may give you company.”
Anshul smiled and asked, “Don’t be so judgmental darling, I love your somber and elegant way of seeing the things in perspective. Come on. I, too will join you now.”
Both slept for hardly one hour when morning walkers’ murmurings caused a disturbance in sleep. Lying on his hand, she wished to have some Sunday Plan with kids as kids were busy preparing their mid-term examinations when you last times joined us.
Elder one Shubham was studying in STD III and younger one Shivam was in STD I in prestigious boarding school in Nainital. They were hardly given any holidays to hang around with the parents. This October, Anshul got a little reprieve from the US-based corporate honchos to be with family members to celebrate Navratra. Since 2008, it was first such occasion when he was with family members in this holy month of Navratra, though he was given leave on quite a few occasions considering his exigencies of work at home. So it was very enticing for Urmil too to celebrate the festivals in right earnest. Finally, they decided to go shopping after watching a movie.
Kids were informed. They exulted in joy on knowing the plan. They were actually more ecstatic to know about the movie and shopping thereupon. Little one, Shivam rushed to his friends’ house in jubilation to inform about his movie visit and shopping. He very cutely said to Johny Uncle, an immediate neighbour, of items he wished to buy today. He returned and very pleasantly wished, “Mummy, today I will buy Car, Doctor set, Shoes, Watches, Spinners, etc.”
She nodded in affirmation and said, “Shivam, go and ask Bhaiya to make a list of items both you wish to have today.”
He happily ran towards Shubham calling loudly, “Bhaiya Bhaiya! Do you know? Today we are going to the Market for shopping. Please make a list as mummy has asked you to prepare this. We will go to the movie first and thereafter shopping…hip hip hurray, hip hip hurray!!!”
The kids were at cloud nine about today’s outing as it was with their parents. Everybody sat together at 9 o’clock to have a light breakfast. Anshul, in the meantime, had booked four tickets along with additional Domino’s Pizza and accessories with beverages. Everything got scripted. It was decided to leave house at 12 noon sharp in order to catch 1:15 show at Inox.
Time surpassed quickly. It was already 12:30 pm. To reach fast, Shubham informed Guard to alert Driver Prakash to get ready.
Everybody got themselves into the car. As per the plan, he was told first to take them to Inox. They went and enjoyed the Movie very much. It was after a time gap of 3 months they had visited the movie theatre altogether. But it was different, as then there was a lot of holidays homework to finish being in the middle of summer vacation, which had bearing on kids. This time, there was no such summer holiday homework like stress kids were facing as the class teacher was at her benevolent best to not to assign homework being 10 days Navratra festival. Therefore, today’s outing was basically planned to bring alacrity in their stride.
Now, Prakash drove his car towards Sarojini Nagar Market. Roads were busy as it was first Sunday during this holy festival of Hindu devotee. On this very august occasion, people usually throng the market in the vicinity to have a choice of stuff for self, kids, kith & kin. Hence, the traffic was moving very slowly. Eventually, after one and half an hour of drive, the family reached the market. The magnitude of the crowd was such that Prakash had to jostle for half an hour to park the vehicle at the proper parking area. There was not a single space to even walk freely without rubbing others. Each stretch of the market was jam-packed. The shops were full of customers belonging to all age groups.
Le lo… le lo…. Lut ho gaya kewal 200 rupaiye jora..ek daam….le lo….ei bhaiya…ei babu le lo….le lo……(come on ..come on….take any pair of items in only Rs. 200…. So on….)
Shivam drew his mother’s attention to this call and pleaded before her, “Mumma, please go there and let’s have a pair of toys in only Rs. 200, please. please.”
Urmil couldn’t resist the impulse of Shivam as it was ultimately the days meant for only kids, not hers’. The way kids and adolescents enjoy shopping, none does cherish. So she started negotiating a way to find space to hang around to see what can be bought there.
In the meantime, Shubham drew attention to other shopkeepers’ call to buy a pair of shoes in only Rs. 500. He was not at all interested in buying toys.
“Please, manage Shubham for the time being as its too much crowd here,” Urmil asked Anshul on seeing Shubham becoming impatient.
“Okay do it fast as we are not even able to stand here properly forget taking care of children” came reply from Anshul side.
But Shubham was completely adamant to go to shoe stall immediately fearing that the pair of shoes, which he sees would be sold out to other customers. He was getting more impatient as his demand was ignored first by Urmil as Shivam was first to request for toys and secondly because of heavy footfall at this shop, the salesman was unable to manage the buyer in the proper manner. But crowds movement to this stall were not compromised at all and therefore a stampede-like situation arose there. In a melee, when did Shubham detach his hand from Anshul’s, was not felt by him. Urmil, in the meantime, had paid currency of Rs. 500 to the salesman to deduct Rs. 400 as Shivam had bought two pairs of toys.
The very moment Anshul just confirmed from Urmil, “Whether Shubham is there, as he doesn’t find near him.”
“No, he is not here. Only Shivam is with me, just check where he is” came reply from Urmil.
On getting a reply, Anshul was dumbstruck as Shubham was nowhere to be seen. He immediately shouted, “Urmil, he is also not here, come let’s see where he has gone.”
Hearing about Shubham, she left the venue in hurry and rushed to nearby stall only to find no Shubham was there.
Immediately Anshul decided to approach Market welfare association to make an announcement about whereabouts of Shubham. On his request, the announcement was made but very moment two-three loud bangs poured in. The person making the announcement rushed towards the source of the sound. Anshul too, ran towards the place where Urmil was told to be there, till he comes back. He noticed everybody rushing towards the same stretch where a while back, two pairs of toys was bought by them. He was not able to think coherently. On approaching the spot nearby he found a large crowd gathered outside the shop amidst 10 to 15 injured lying in the pool of blood. The crowd went helter-skelter on finding the injured and blood spinning out on a stretch. It was enough to conclude that terrorist has stricken. But for Anshul, life had come to standstill as he was neither able to call on Urmil’s number nor was finding anyone. He thought for a second and rang Prakash up to come and join the search of other members. Meanwhile, he once again tried to call on her number, this time phone connected but it was kept on ringing. His doubt of finding none in this fracas got stronger when despite connection phone was not picked up. The very moment, he saw a boy of around 11 who has his right foot blown off in a blast and blood spinning all over face, crumbling. He was attended by volunteers.
Anshul went nearby only to find Shubham. On seeing him in such a state, he was shattered and shell-shocked. “Shubham! How are you, my son? What happened, how did it happen?……” Anshul cried making a failed attempt to resuscitate him.
Volunteers on finding Anshul as the father of the injured boy took him to other place and arranged a seat in an ambulance which was ferrying injured and casualties to nearby Hospitals. Immediately he shouted at the person at wheel, “Stop, stop!
The driver hesitatingly stopped the ambulance and asked, “What happened, even a delay of second may cause irreparable loss, tell me what do you want?”
“I have to search my wife and other kid before going elsewhere. Where are you taking me up? Wait for a while, I come.” came reply from Anshul.
But it was enough for Ambulance care staff to give green signal to move on as Anshul was not able to think what to do or what not to at this moment of despair. But by then, he had already alighted from the ambulance and rushed again to the blast site. He asked Prakash to come there. Together, they first reached to camp office to get an update of injured, which has been carried over to a nearby hospital. But all attempts to find their name was going in vain. Later, he was told by others onlookers and volunteers to visit the Market camp where relatives of injured were getting an update of their loved ones who were missing in the stampede following serial blasts. However, one idea struck to his mind that after hearing a loud bang, she could have run away to hide at a nearby shop or house. Undeterred, Anshul decided to retrace the same approach route through which they had negotiated the crowded stretches of the market while coming.
Prakash followed him. He was accosted by others in his endeavour to find the soulmate, but all of his sheer hope was getting dwindled away as nearer he was reaching, the murkier picture was coming in the way. But universe fell down on him as soon as he saw the same pair of toys which Shivam had bought a little while ago also lying scattered amidst a pool of blood. Fearing unfateful, Anshul started weeping inconsolably as none of the members were found except Shubham who was taken to hospital in critical condition having part of his foot blown away.
He lost all of his energy and stamina to hang around there. He fell on the ground. People surrounded him. Prakash, himself rushed to nearby “Piau” to bring some water to splash it over his face. But no sooner did he step up from Anshul, he found a saree-clad women screaming for help from the Sewage pipeline laden beneath the road. At once, he couldn’t notice wherefrom screaming sound comes in. But, suddenly, he found the source and reached there only to find Urmil in nose-deep sewage water. She was gradually sinking and was unable to thrust herself up to hold the edge of a Sewage pipe. Had there been any delay, she could have drowned by self-downward thrust.
Prakash got himself little nearer as the sound seemed to be known. But such will be surprised, he could not have thought after such an intense search of Urmil and Shivam.
Prakash asked loudly, “Bhabhi, where is Shivam?
But she couldn’t reply as she was herself in trouble without any sort of energy to speak. On gaining little strength, he enquired about the whereabouts of Kids. Anshul also became conscious after ten minutes of unconscious state of mind following the disappearance of all of the family members.
But no sooner did he regain consciousness, he asked Prakash, “Could you find madam and kids.
“Yes sir, Madam was fallen in the gutter where any moment of delay could have resulted in a travesty of fortune,” Prakash replied.
He added that she seems to be okay as she was not drowned fully. He, however, suggested that she has been handed over to volunteer to put her in observation as she is traumatic and feeling nausea. However, the status of Shivam was still unknown.
After a little later, Urmil was taken to the hospital too, where she was administered a first-aid and discharged off. She had no any grievous injury as such. But when she learned that Shubham is critically injured and he has been taken to the hospital and no evidence of Shivam, she was unstoppable and started weeping with full throttle. Nobody mustered the courage to stop her. Seeing her crying with full of profound pain, Anshul, too became shaky and sobbing started again.
Prakash, in the meantime, consulted facilitation centre to find Shivam. There, he found a list of injured getting treatment in another hospital. He again walked down to Anshul & Urmil and requested them to accompany one more hospital. On his insistence, they agreed to visit. But by that time, DCP of Delhi Police arrived with full of contingent and NDRF volunteers.
“See, this cowardice act of belligerent which is a curse on this mankind would surely be acted upon within 24 hours.” the DCP assured people on street and media contingent.
But people started sloganeering against the inefficient patrolling and inefficiency of crowd control management amidst shouting, “Go back Delhi Police…Delhi Police Hai hai….etc.”
One of them snatched mike from DCP and asked him, “ Sir, would you please tell us as to why there is such an inordinate delay in deputing NDRF personnel and where were your personnel in charge of market, when bomb went off and commotion & stampede followed, causing loss of more than 15 people and many suffered from grievous injury? Would you take responsibility and act on this coward first, who in the guise of sheltering people under his jurisdiction, take a bribe and allow miscreants to prosper and let them enter the market without any sort of frisking.”
The DCP had nothing to respond as this was the second incident in the last 5 years. The same sort of thing had happened 5 years back when a live crude bomb was found in the garbage bin near the market, but couldn’t go off. Police could have taken a lesson from past incidents but it went on deaf ear.
The others sought to know the details of casualties and name of the missing which was later found by the police.
In response, DCP said, “I do promise my fellow citizen, please for the sake of proper and prompt investigations and to book the accused, please cooperate with the Police and don’t make hurdles as it will not only hamper the ongoing rescue works but also it will act as detrimental in giving proper medical attention to the injured and hence, please allow us to do our duty with utmost diligence.”
By asserting this, the DCP started naming the person who was rescued and found to be normal to hand over to the relatives. Here was all the surprise waiting to unleash. A short list of kids who went missing during melee was bearing a photograph of the youngest child Shivam.
Listening to this great news of finding Shivam, the couple took a deep breath and congratulated each other and prayed to God that Shubham too recovers fast.
“Sir, where these children are kept and how they will be handed over.” Anshul sought to know.
“Please assemble at Commissionerate office at 7PM, you will be handed over the kid on showing the related documents.” came reply from one of the Police personnel.
Anshul decided to send Urmil to visit the residence to bring out the requisite documents to take Shivam from the Police and visit the hospital himself where Shubham was put in for immediate medical attention. This time he recalled that he was in critical condition at the time, he was taken by a volunteer to the nearby hospital.
Hurriedly he left the venue to know about the status of Shubham. He reached there. There too, the situation was not different. The people had thronged the enquiry and the person manning the counter was seen busy negotiating the relatives but was not capable of managing the mammoth task of satisfying the crowd.
“Ladies & gentleman, you are requested to visit the website of this hospital to get the latest update of blast victims admitted here” requested the person manning the desk.
Though it was a little reprieve for him as many people started roaming website to see the status and hence left the counter in a huff. Anshul stayed there for a while as he perceived information on the website will only be indicative whereas his case was different.
“Sir, for the sake of humanity kindly tell me where is my son admitted and under whom?” Anshul pleaded once again.
On this occasion, he carefully listened to his plea and asked, “What is his name?
“Shubham” he responded.
“Where had you seen him last time” the executive sought to know.
“At shoe shop….any more proof do you require? If so please let me aware of.” Anshul retorted intending to question his instantaneous error of judgment when one is getting impatient for hearing their child’s present status.
The executive accessed the details and directed him to approach Bed No. 405 in ICCU where he was being operated by the team of Doctors.
He went there and waited in the waiting area after duly informing the supervisor. She asked him to wait for a few minutes as 3 hours of operation had already completed.
In next 15 minutes, one of the Doctors came out from Operation Theatre and wanted to know whether anybody from family has arrived for Shubham.
“He has been eagerly waiting for his son’s condition. Shall I inform them, Doctor?” she requested to Doctor.
“Wait, I go there and update him.” Doctor replied.
The doctor went to the waiting hall where many of relatives were present to know the status of their relatives. He sought to know who is the relative of Shubham.
Anshul stood up and hurriedly said, “Doctor, I am his father. How my son is? Is he okay now…is he able to speak…& So on …..
Doctor patiently heard all the queries put forth by him. When he stopped, the Doctor said, “Sir, see there was a massive explosion there. And on account of this, he had received some injury mark over his body but unfortunately, 80% of his muscle in his right leg shaft has been burnt off, hence it necessitated immediate surgery which we have very successfully completed. If everything goes properly, he may be fit enough to get discharged after 15 days of hospitalization. The only thing he may suffer permanently is his hearing ability. On account of the high decibel of the blast, his eardrum has damaged beyond repair.
For Anshul, the news was music to his ear as at the time of blast, he had not thought of the fact that this much God will be kind enough as there were dead bodies all over just after Bomb went off and amidst this, he had found all without any major damage and injury barring recuperating Shubham.
As soon as Doctor finished, Prakash reminded Anshul about Madam’s call regarding identity proof of Shivam.
They thanked Doctor and decided to move fast to the commissioner’s office where Shivam would be handed over after determining the genuineness of the claimant. They took Urmil along and reached the venue by 6:30 hours i.e 30 minutes before the scheduled time to get the kid. In the next 10-20 minutes, Shivam was handed over to his parents. Seeing the parents, sobbing Shivam started yelling again as he too had lost all hope of reunion with the parents but God was kind enough on them and they eventually came at one place. The onlookers were also cherishing the joy the family reunion had. But who can imagine the plight of a person who had lost everything in a second but had kept his nerve under control and ran pillar to post in order to search their family members be it Urmil or Shubham or Shivam. Nobody can anticipate how do parents suffer in absence of child and their near & dear ones.
They eventually thanked everybody from Counsellor to volunteer to all the civil person who not only helped him in his endeavour to find his own family members but also helped the person in need at this unfortunate time. He had special praise for Prakash as he was the one who without fleeing from the spot after a blast, involved himself to help the needy without fearing another blast and his own damage which might happened to happen in such scenario.
After getting into the car, Prakash drove all the members to the residence and bid adieu for the day which went topsy-turvy. They get into the house and was unable to discuss any sort of narratives related to the blast. However, Urmil got up and take all the members along and reached the prayer room to offer Puja for the deceased, injured and all the person who had lost some or other worthy things be it tangible or intangible. Last but not the least they signed off the day on positive notes that don’t ever lose hope and be optimistic whether whatever phase or situation you come across. It is Anshul’s sheer passion to search all the members and Prakash benevolent act, which made him so energetic without fearing any further damage to his own life.