The Story of the Bomb Blast at Keishampat Bridge
Omila Thounaojam *
There was a thunderous sound making uncomfortable echoes in the air. May be another blast I thought. I didn't feel disturbed. Bomb blasts are usual stuffs at our place. It's like bread and butter or salt in a curry. Simple as that. It is a commonplace thing that in a week, one or two blasts are nothing out of the ordinary.
Whenever there was news about a bad blast causing serious casualties, it never made me feel bad. Why because I guess, none near to my heart were the unfortunate victims. I don't know what happen to my moral conscience but I felt less affected by news of casualties, or many innocent lives killed, or made handicapped by something like a scary blast.
Until one evening in the midst of an unusual weather, I must confess that I witnessed something dead cold and there things changed in me forever. As usual, I still remember, I had my morning breakfast and then I headed to the office. The weather was pleasant after a long time and it felt soothing. It was going so smooth and on my way to my work place, I happened to meet Echelthoibi, one of my dearest friends after a long time.
We were closest friends during our school days and it was an extraordinary feeling when I saw her sweet face in the middle of a crowded traffic at Keishampat bridge. She called me and I was taken aback for a moment seeing her after so long. I recollected my thoughts and responded to her. I was already late for work because of the huge traffic flow but in spite of that we both had to catch up. There was nothing that could have made me feel like avoiding that moment and it was almost forty minutes since we were chatting in a nearest coffee house by the Keishampat bridge.
Echel told me about so many exciting things happening in her life. We were chatting in a hurried manner and were both so excited recalling all the funniest, craziest yet sweetest things that we did encounter in the past. We were giggling and at the same time saying to each other that maybe we are talking in the manner of a running train speed. That moment was amazing but both of us had to head back to our respective work place and we decided that we will catch up in the evening after work and meet up at the same spot around five in the evening.
I hastily reached my cabin and was keeping my fingers crossed for nothing bad to happen because I was late and our director was already there in the office. I couldn't wait for the evening out of excitement and was imagining about pointers. Funny perhaps but there was so much that I wanted to know about from Echel.
I was away from home right after my school days for further studies and it was disappointing a fact to me that I couldn't stay in contact with many of my childhood friends. I started imagining that may be through Echel I will be able to find a meaningful channel to re-communicate with old friends. Above that Echel has always been a darling and we shared a special bond, more like a sense of sisterhood that was priceless.
I did my share of the day's work right on schedule and I got ready to head back. It was when I was leaving the office building that our old peon called me with a hasty voice and informed me that our director wanted me to see him. It was not a comforting news of the hour but I went back and rushed to his office. It was as if the day was playing a tricky business with me, but it was relieving to learn from my boss that I had to be early in the office the following day regarding an important board meeting. I assured him that I will be on time and then once again I continued with my endeavor of meeting up my old friend.
I expected it already that there will be maddening traffic as always but it was beyond understanding that evening. All there was going on inside my head was reaching on time, if possible, before Echel but it didn't feel like that was any more possible. Felt like flying off if it was possible and with a crooked face, I waited for ways and means to drive in the middle of that passage to reach faster. When it was only some half a kilometer distance away from the Keishampat bridge that all of us on the road heard that shattering sound.
For the first time, I felt like my heart beat slipped for a moment and something fell dark inside me. There was a spine chilling experience. Unlike earlier times, that day the sound of that bomb blast was cutting something inside me. Suddenly there was this new found curiosity to ask, to know about what or where exactly had happened and how many were safe and injured. May be that was because that shattering vibrating sound just like a dead call came from somewhere near. All there was stirring inside my small head was Echel and a frightening sense of whether she was okay.
Sirens were all around the area, with a huge traffic influx all the more because of the blast. Ambulance three or four were trying to sneak in through the jammed passage and men in uniforms were trying to systematize the chaotic environ. There was this policeman standing nearby trying to control the suffocating confusions going on. I asked him about the exact location where the blast occurred and it didn't take much time for me to feel all numb when he answered that it was at Keishampat bridge.
Suddenly there was this rushed of impulse born out of anger, frustration, fear and above all piercing sense of disappointment at myself for the way I was before. I was dead that moment because I realized how selfish I was before. I died that moment and maybe a new me was being born who was sensitive about things that was happening at home. The taken for granted bitter realities of our society were haunting me that moment and it felt like it was slapping my indifferent self.
I opened my eyes that day to a new world and a new found vision to absorb things with. I didn't realize but I was crying and there was no stopping to the way tears drop rolled on and on from my eyes. An old woman in a car besides mine called me with a loud voice and asked me whether I was doing fine. It was an awkward moment but I responded with a gesture I could make no sense of, all because I was in no better position to think of a sensible one. After being stuck on the road for almost fifty minutes, finally the road was cleared up and we all were once again being able to carry on with our respective journey.
All there was cooking inside me where to rush faster at the blast affected area and check out whether my friend's name includes those who were hurt by the unfaithful incident. I parked my car, and then started going nearer to the affected area. My legs felt cold and numb inside and even though I wanted to walk little faster, it was not possible any more. It felt like the gravitational pull of the Earth was all centered towards my body and it felt grounded. I could see blood and shredded pieces of human skins scattered all over the road floor. All the more I felt more haunted and ghastly.
I was no longer sure and certain of the fact that I was not participating in a bloody dream like real situation. Blood rushed all at once in a vein and everything became blurry and soon dark completely. All I remember was that when I opened my eyes, people were calling me, and there was some sprinkling water on my face. I was on the ground and it took some moment for me to recollect that I lost consciousness and had collapsed. When I finally gained full awareness of the surroundings, it felt comforting to hear a familiar voice in the middle of many unknown ones. Sooner I saw her face and there I was seeing Echel all safe and sound.
Echel took me back home and since it was already late that evening, she left saying she will come and see me later. I didn't take my food that evening. I felt like taking some time off all to myself and think over things. Something changed forever inside that day. As if some part of me died and left me forever. It was for good or for the worst I am not sure of. All I knew for certain was the fact that I stopped welcoming things wrong anymore. The apathetic me was killed along other victims of the blast that evening.
And I knew from that moment on that I could do something. Something instead of just acting dumb and blind. I knew that at least I could tell, narrate and let people know about parts and pieces of moments. I knew that at least I could do this small bit and let the people of my land know that life's precious, and that there is this small thing I could do that would make sense to me… and that I must ceaselessly write tales of lives lost and altered forever. That way I could fill up the holes inside my soul and let the meaningful healing process be on from that point on and also for the better.
NB: The plot of the story is all fiction. Any kind of resemblance of it to a real incident will be by mere chance.
....the story attempts at saying something that is not an altogether foreign account of things really happening in our lives.....
* Omila Thounaojam wrote this short story for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at omilathounaojam(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on September 28, 2013.
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