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Grief, uncertainty and dreaded lists
Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai | July 12, 2006 15:04 IST
S M Rathod and Rajesh Shah, both residents of Bhayander, a distant Mumbai suburb, left home early on Wednesday morning to find out about their loved ones who have been missing since terror struck Mumbai on Tuesday, killing 190 people and leaving many more injured.
At the hospital, they discovered that Rathod's friend Vishwas Anand Thorat was dead; Shah's brother Nitin Shah was recuperating in the intensive care unit.
Rathod and Shah did not know each other. They met at the Bhabha Hospital in Bandra, northwestern Mumbai. They were strangers united in grief, very much like the city that was ripped apart by seven blasts on seven trains on Tuesday evening.
"I boarded the 6.04 pm local and my friend took the 5.50 pm train from Churchgate (south Mumbai)," said Rathod, tears flowing down his cheeks. "This was our daily routine. I cannot believe that he is no more."
Rathod's friendship with Thorat goes back 23 years. They were also colleagues at the Handicraft Export Corporation of India, a division of the Union textiles ministry.
"I insisted that we take the next train as I was feeling like a cup of tea, but Thorat did not listen to me. Had he waited for the cup of tea, he would have been saved," Rathod continued. "He said he was in a hurry as he had to go and cook dinner for his mother."
Thorat, a bachelor, lived in Borivali with his 80-year-old mother Godavari Thorat.
His brother-in-law Raju Pawar was inconsolable. He wept like a child while informing his relatives over his mobile phone.
"I have absolutely no idea how to break this news to my sister and my mother-in-law," he said.
At the other end of the hospital, Rajesh Shah was worried about what would happen to his brother's children who are unaware that their father is battling for his life.
"I wish I did not have to inform our relatives about his health. The doctors are uncertain about his fate. Since the morning I have been running from hospital to hospital. I finally found him over here," Rajesh said.
The Bhabha Hospital is filled with such sights and sounds. People crying, people fighting tears, people breaking down, people trying hard not to break down -- all coming to terms with the acts of mindless violence that left mangled metal, blood on the tracks and shattered homes.
A board outside the hospital displayed the names of the deceased and the injured.
There was a column in between the two lists where the bed numbers of unidentified injured people and unidentified dead people's bed numbers were listed.
"To go to those bed numbers and see dead bodies is the most frightful experience," said Aslam Qureshi.
"I have been to the KEM and Sion hospitals and seen so many dead bodies, but I have not been able to find my brother Akram Qureshi and sister Shaheen Qureshi. I just hope they are not on the list of the dead," he continued, emotion choking his voice.
Akram and Shaheen had gone to the J J Hospital in southcentral Mumbai on Tuesday evening to meet a relative who was admitted there. They have been missing since. Their mobiles cannot be reached.
"I only hope I find them at the Bhabha Hospital," said Aslam.
Babulal Yadav and Himanshu Yadav, who work with a recruitment agency, visited almost several hospitals to locate their superior L Sequeira.
"We have no idea who to ask and how to find him," said Babulal. "Bhabha is the fifth hospital we have visited. He spoke to us at 6.40 pm from the Bombay Central station. We have no idea what happened to him after that."