July 12, 2006

Four in this rickshaw

(Fourth post on the blasts in Mumbai. #1, #2, #3).

Through the rain, miserable rubble-strewn pavements and rivers of water, to Bhabha Hospital. (Two women I pass are saying to each other, the roads in Bandra are so horrible!). Three ambulances scream into the hospital as I approach, crowds surging outside, lots of cops. I ask one guy in a uniform, can I go in to donate blood? No he says, we'll call you, for now please stay out of the way and don't make things difficult for us.

Obvious reporters also in the crowd, discussing body counts. One says to me, 22 brought dead here, number might change. Woman in jeans and a Tshirt steps forward and announces to the crowd, it's no use waiting here, those of you who want to donate blood, please go to Holy Family Hospital! (Nearby). Six men peel off from the crowd -- again, I'm reminded of petals -- and walk up the road with the woman and me.

At the next junction, a few rickshaws, and one offers to take us to the hospital. One of the men gets in, and they motion the woman in. She turns to me and asks in an urgent whisper, you won't come with me? I can't go in that alone!

Before I can respond, the men say to her, it's OK madam! Come with us! Sit in front!

And I say, foolishly, but you don't know me from Adam either! Luckily nobody hears me, and I get into the rickshaw, and she gets in after me. Four of us squeezed in the back, driver plus two more in front, and we head off for Holy Family Hospital to donate blood, all of us.

On the way she tells me, our sons are in the same class, right? Then I realize why she looks slightly familiar, and why, too, she had that urgent whispered plea earlier.

On the way too, the driver tells us all, I brought four bodies in this rickshaw earlier.

At the hospital, I try to give the driver some money and he refuses. Twice. Flatly. We all troop up to the blood bank. While we wait, dripping rainwater all over the swabbed floors, I ask everyone's names. Binaifer the woman. Shoukat the driver. Ravi, Tabrez, Anil, Nawaz and Maaz, the others.

One runs a cold storage. One works for a film producer. One is a pharmacist. One has a mutton shop. One's a student. All of us, here together on a topsy-turvy rainy tragic Bombay night, waiting to donate blood for our fellow Bombayites hit by this madness.

Anil and I, they won't take our blood. Both of us have donated within the last three months.

Out on the landing, a sudden commotion. Doctors and nurses, green transparent plastic aprons over their clothes, appear as if from nowhere. Lift door opens and several nurses wheel a man in shorts on a stretcher, blood down his legs, into the ICU.

Homeward bound, the rain has finally eased. The memories haven't.

18 comments:

Purush said...

Heartbreaking, senseless, tragic, mind-numbing all this...and yet from your writing it seems Mumbai, Bombay, Bambai whatever is having it's finest hour in it's darkest hour.

Horn Please!! said...

tomorow?

amit varma said...

Very good reports, Dilip. Compelling and vivid.

km said...

Thanks for the updates, Dilip.

GREATBONG said...

Thank you Dilip. For not only reporting but for also caring.

Take care.

Aniruddha, Mountain View, CA said...

Broke my heart to hear this on the radio this morning as I was driving in to work. As a former resident of Mumbai, a part of me is hurting.

Thanks for your several early first person reports including those about the good samaritans ... both voluntary and volunteered. God bless them all!

Chetan said...

Very vivid. Thanks Dilip for these first person accounts and portraying the horror so sensitively and sensibly for those of us staying away from Mumbai.

Anonymous said...

Rudest city in the world, is it?

Thanks for the word pictures Dilip. We are all Mumbaikars today. Take heart.

God bless you all.

confused said...

Dilip,

Thanks for the reports. Very touching.

I hope everyone you knew personally is ok. Cant say that helps much but at least.

Nikhil said...

Thanks for the reports. Feel sorry for all the victims of this senseless carnage. As a person originally from Bombay, I feel the pain. Take care everybody.

Dilip - Great on your part for having gone and helped the victims out there. Keep up the reporting

flygirl said...

thank you for these reports. all around the world, we're thinking of you.

God bless you all.

onlooker said...

amit varma commenting hre, praising dilip? Have the two kissed and amde up?

Dilip D'Souza said...

Thank you, Purush, horn, Amit, km, greatB, aniruddha (hope you got my mail), chetan, confused, anonymous 639, Nikhil, flygirl.

Hard evening yesterday, tough to wake up to the newspapers. City's back to normal, though you gotta start wondering, what's "normal" any more.

I wish you all peace and strength wherever you are.

Tanuj said...

good posts, d. thanks.

Kingsley said...

Great report Dilip, and good piece in Salon. It's great to hear about Mumbai pulling itself back together.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Thanks Tanuj and Kingsley. Two days later, and you would swear nothing even happened...

Sidhusaaheb said...

May God bless all those who stepped forward to provide succour to their fellow citizens when they needed it the most!

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