HipHop Grandma's post stirred my mind. Like all of us, I have experienced fear after taking a wrong turn on the road or waiting for someone too long. However, many of these fears got diminished with time, maturity and understanding of the situations.
One of my worst nightmares was what I experienced on Nov 1 1984 in New Delhi. The day before, Oct 31 1984 had started out just as any other normal day. At that time and even now my parents live in West Delhi, which has huge Punjabi and Sikh population. I was studying in Grade 4 in school run by a retired Sikh military officer. A year before, my brother had left the school to join a middle school. All of us - my parents, my brother and I used to leave and come home in four different times. We all had spare home keys with us but usually it was me or my mom who would come home first. Few months back our house had got burgled and I developed a fear of entering the house alone. I was able to overcome that fear with time. Hence, many times I would sit in my neighbor’s house waiting for my mom to return and then enter my home.
In the afternoon of On Oct 31, which was a Wednesday, I was sitting in a bamboo chair outside my neighbor’s verandah and doing my homework. I remembered I forgot to get my Moral Science work book from the school after the teacher had corrected it. Just then my mom arrived in an autorickshaw and her face was tensed. She greeted my neighbor and asked her if she knew the news. My neighbor nodded and my mom hurried me home. I understood that the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi was assassinated. My mom had heard of some disturbing violence in few places in Delhi. My brother and dad arrived at their usual time home that evening. But the atmosphere in the neighborhood was apprehensive. Nobody could comprehend what an assassination of a Prime Minister would mean. I told my mom about my work book but she mentioned that I would not be going to school for couple of days as they had declared national mourning.
On Nov 1 1984, the newspapers were filled with news about Indira Gandhi and the future of India. After brunch, I was sitting with my parents in their bedroom. My brother was in the next room. My dad was reading the newspaper. I don't remember what my mom was doing exactly but I was reading a book and actually enjoying a sudden vacation in the middle of the week. I had not fully understood how grim the situation was. Suddenly we heard a faint shouting. The cry seemed to become stronger every second. Then my brother came into the room we were all in and all of us went to the front door, opening the door slightly. Our neighbors were also outside. We did not understand what was happening till we saw a huge mob emerging from the nearby streets. This huge crowd surrendered the last house in our street. That house belonged to a Sikh family. Thankfully, the family had escaped the previous evening. The mob broke into the house and took away every thing they found and finally burnt the house.
I was terrified and nobody had any answer. My parents were speechless by such human atrocity. The policemen were standing and staring and did not do anything to curtail the mob's actions. In the evening, we heard that my school was also burnt down. I believe my workbook must have also been reduced to ashes. The next few days were horrific. We heard and saw so much human hatred that I thought the world would come to an end. The sky was dark and gloomy with smoke. I never went back to that school. I joined my brother in his school in the middle of the year.
With years, things slowly returned back to normalcy. In our colony, they built a temple, Gurudwara and Church next to each other to promote communal brotherhood. I have never got answers to such horrific act but they get repeated often in some form in every part of the world. I don’t know how all these would end. But it made me realize to respect the only religion that should prevail the world - humanity.