Srinagar: Recalling the fateful day of March 2004, when I escaped death by a miracle, makes me feel both supremely favoured and numb at the same time. It was meant to be a day for a new beginning as I had just finished my secondary school.
It was my first day in my new school of learning.
New school, new mentors, new friends and a strange encounter with a live grenade blast makes the day worth documenting.
The day was full of excitement and as it proceeded, it turned into a day of tragedy and the tragedy was such that it made me the talk of the town for weeks together.
Heading back to my destination, around 5 in the evening, I had a strange yet miraculous encounter with a grenade blast at Tagore Hall Crossing opposite Lalla Ded Hospital. Had it just been witnessing a blast site as in 90’s, it would have been a usual memory, but it was not.
I remember very vividly, the grenade was lobbed from one of the structures of old L.D Hospital just opposite the spot. It was an attempt to attack an Army Convoy that happened to pass the spot seconds before the explosive was hurled.
I saw it coming and it fell just a couple of meters away from me.
Before I could perceive what was happening I saw it exploding in front of me.
It felt like death was calling. However, it was not my time to return yet.
With that bang window panes of the passenger bus, which happened to pass by at that very moment, broke into pieces and fell on the road with the sound as if thousands of hail stones were concentrated and made to fall at that one spot in a fraction of a second.
I still remember that simultaneous bang of the blast and glass breaking at the same time. It was huge and it reverberated in my mind for months together. It haunted my days and disrupted my sleep for times I even fail to remember.
Chaos around, couldn’t allow me to think, rather I stood still for some moments.
It took me a few minutes to realize what had just happened and as soon as I came in terms with my conscious self, I felt I was born again, born out of a miracle!
And a miracle it was… literally… Not a scratch on my body!
I was feeling divinely blessed for I, fortunately or unfortunately, was the nearest to the spot of the explosion and yet physically untouched by the offshoot of the blast.
I wanted to go home, hug my mother and cry my heart out but my conscience was asking me to stay.
People around, who were at a good distance from the blast, were bleeding and I started to panic.
I contained myself and gathered courage to walk to an elderly lady. She was bleeding and crying like a baby. I took hold of her and tried to calm her down but she was more difficult to handle than a kid.
Many were injured and I was feeling bad for I was too young to help more than one victim. In the passenger bus that had all the window panes broken, blast victims were rushed to nearby Bone & Joint Hospital in Barzulla area of the city.
I too wanted to cry like a baby but I had a victim to take care of.
I felt responsible toward her life and had to gather all the courage to make sure she gets medical assistance on priority basis as she was complaining of heart pain. I had to hire an auto rickshaw to take her to the casualty unit of the hospital, from where the damaged passenger vehicle dropped us.
Meanwhile, I tried to seek information about her family but she was reluctant to give me her contact details for she feared that mere informing her family may lead to a catastrophe back home.
She was a lecturer at some college. Instead of calling her home, she asked me to reach out to her friends at a B.Ed College nearby. But all I wanted at that moment was to reach out to a doctor in that casualty unit, where hue and cry was a norm and with all the victims in that one unit, it escalated the situation.
Somehow, I managed a bed for her and started looking out for a doctor.
Noticing me crying, some doctor approached me and started inquiring. Not able to utter a word, I just directed him to where I had made that woman lie. She was immediately shifted to some other room, where she was provided all the assistance required.
All I learnt from the doctors was she had received some splinter somewhere near her heart. I feared for her life, and asked the hospital people to take care of her till I get back with her friends.
I went out of the hospital premises, with her blood on my uniform and started inquiring about that B.Ed College. After around half an hour, I was able to locate that College and reach out to her colleagues/friends.
Finally, I reached hospital with two of her friends and directed them to where she was. I was there for some time, not knowing what was happening with her. Now I could leave her with them but I wanted to stay.
After some time, one of her friends asked me if I can go home alone. I replied in affirmation. After appreciating my help, they requested me to leave for home as it was already late for a kid to be out of reach for the parents at that time.
I left after entrusting them with her. I reached home with a heavy heart, bathed in her blood and as soon as I saw my mother, I hugged her and cried for quite some time. She tried to calm me and asked me to sleep after feeding me with her hands.
I still feel bad about being oblivious of what might have happened to her after I left and it still brings tears in my eyes.
I just ‘hope’ she is still doing good!