While we take a moment of silence for the ones who lost their lives in the stampede at Mumbai’s Elphinstone station, I really wonder if silence is what they need.
This article is an attempt to highlight the plight of those who lost their lives and their families. It is an imagined obituary of one of the victims who passed away in the disturbing incident.
30-09-2017 in a not-so-known newspaper:
Aditya* died in the stampede that happened at Elphinstone station of Mumbai as he was out in the world to chase his dreams unaware about what future had in store for him. He had left home after having a hearty breakfast that his mother had made for him with oodles of love and promised that he would spend more time with her on the eve of Dussehra. He was an engineer who had plans for making India connected but also wanted to have a simple life, start a family.
He hurriedly left his home and managed to get on a heavily crowded train because if he would be late at work, he wouldn’t get his pay for that day. His father had passed away when he was a child and he couldn’t afford to forgo one day’s pay even if that meant risking his life to get on a over-crowded train as he hanged half-outside the train compartment. His bosses wouldn’t understand.
As he alighted on Elphinstone station and made his way to the steps of the narrow foot over bridge like everyday, braving through the crowd, he imagined how amazing it would be to enjoy the long weekend with his friends and family, also making plans to play garba that night. He stopped short as he saw that it had suddenly started raining and he had forgotten to carry his umbrella. The expensive laptop that his company had given him was not in a waterproof bag and he couldn’t risk spoiling it. He decided to wait and took out his phone to call his friend, asking where he was but his friend didn’t answer.
He opened his facebook account to scroll through it while he waited for the rain to stop. He browsed through articles about civic negligence, scams of crores of rupees out of money that was allotted for better infrastructure, about the railway budget being deficit and about the new bullet train. Just as he had began reading the last article, he heard a commotion on the top of the stairs. Someone was screaming that the bridge was collapsing. He panicked. In a minute after that, he was buried under a pile of human bodies, bleeding from his head and suffocating himself. He breathed his last, all alone, like dozens of other people around him.
When his constantly-ringing phone was answered by a police officer as the officer had read ‘mom’ on the screen, the officer asked his mother to reach KEM hospital. His mother was devastated. She froze for a few seconds before she ran outside her house to get to the hospital. When she saw a number written on her son’s dead body and how the fact that the Chief Minister had offered an ex-gratia of ₹5lakh made her think only about how her son always wanted to buy a bike to commute, she remembered how he had promised to spend the Dussehra with her. She couldn’t cry. He was with her on Dussehra. But wasn’t breathing.
Aditya* was an ambitious Mumbaikar who died to awaken, even if for a moment, the indifferent bodies of authorities who refused to look at how the ‘city of dreams’ was now, killing dreams.
Humble condolences to the families of the victims of the Elphinstone stampede. While the authorities may have opened their eyes to the crumbling lifeline of Mumbai it is our request to the people to be more careful and avoid crowded places.