I am a Mumbaikar: In Prayer and in Solidarity

Posted on November 28, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Disasters, Foreign Relations
Total Views: 160920

Adil Najam

I, too, am a Mumbaikar today.

I wish I could reach out and for just one moment hold the hands of the woman in this AP photograph. Maybe shed some tears on her shoulder. But I do not know what I would say to her. I do not think she would want me to say much. The expression on her face matches the feeling I have at the pit of my stomach and in the depth of my heart. I think – I hope – that she would understand how I feel. I can only imagine what she is going through.

And so, in prayer and in solidarity, I stand today with Mumbaikars everywhere. In shock at what has happened. In fear of what might happen yet. In anger at those who would be so calculated in their inhuman massacre. In sympathy with those whose pain so hurts my own heart but whose tears I cannot touch, whose wounds I cannot heal, and whose grief I cannot relieve.

The solidarity I feel with Mumbaikars is deep and personal.

The first time I ever visited the Taj Mahal Hotel was with my wife. We had been married just weeks and were not staying at the Taj but went to the historic “Sea Lounge” at the hotel for tea and snacks during a short visit to Mumbai. We went to the Oberoi Hotel the same visit in the naive and mistaken belief that we would find Bollywood bigwigs hanging out there. In later years I would come back and stay at the old wing of the Taj – down the corridor from where Ruttie Bai Jinnah and stayed – I would even present in the grand ballroom whose pillars, supposedly, had been brought from her father’s estate. Each time I passed through Victoria Terminus I stood in awe of the pace as well as its presence. In awe of the architectural structure, but also of the sea of humanity around me. I cannot hear of terrorists attacking these places without my own muscles twitching in anger.

But my feeling of solidarity with Mumbaikars is much much more personal than these few fleeting visits over many years. Deeply etched into me are the horrific echoes of 9/11 in New York and the string of terrorist attacks on Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar and all over Pakistan whose reports have become all too familiar – but never bearable – on this blog. I know what living with terror feels like. I have thought too much and too deeply about what it feels like to be the target of violence propelled by hatred. I know the pain of helplessness one feels as one stands stunned in grief, wanting so desperately to do something – anything – but not knowing what to do. This is why I identify with the expression on the face of the woman in this picture. This is why, like so many others in the world, today I too am a Mumbaikar.

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This is why I stand with Mumbaikars everywhere, in prayer and in solidarity. At a loss for words but with an urge to speak out. My words of condemnation will not change the actions of those who have committed such heinous murder and mayhem. Nor will my words of sympathy diminish the agony of the victims. But speak out I must. In condemnation as well as in sympathy. To speak against the inhumanity of hatred and violence. To speak for the humanity in all of us that we all must hold on to; especially in the testing moments of grave stress.

But, today, I have no words of analysis. What words can make sense of the patently senseless? I do not know who did this. Nor can I imagine any cause that would justify this. But this I know: No matter who did this, no matter why, the terror that has been wrought in Mumbai is vile and inhuman and unjustifiable. And, for the sake of our own humanness, we must speak out against it.

And, so, to any Mumbaikar who might be listening, I say: “I stand with you today. In prayer and in solidarity.”

240 responses to “I am a Mumbaikar: In Prayer and in Solidarity”

  1. Ashish says:


    I am a mumbaikar as well. Thank you for this blog. I read an interesting comment about how media manipulates opinion in India. This is sadly true. There exists a lot of anti-Pakistan propoganda. But to be frank this is the only pro-India blog/article of Pakistani origin I have ever seen. After the Mumbai attacks I saw a clipping of Geo TV which I believe is a Pakistani news channel in which they had invited the Pakistani defence analyst to express his views regarding the attacks and India’s accusation. He pointed at Mohd. Ajmal Kasab’s picture and said that this man was an Indian and the terror striked were conducted by the Indian govt. 9/11 style. This convinced me that both India and Pakistan are victims of the state propoganda. Both the countries need to change their politicans and leaders if they want peace.

  2. Sridhar says:

    A wonderfully balanced and well-written article on the issue by Gen. Talat Masood in the Daily Times.

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008  \12\18\story_18-12-2008_pg3_2

  3. Bangash Khan says:

    @Danish Burki

    Are you telling me this “Ajmal Amir” fellow registered to vote in Pakistan? If this existence is really confirmed how about a picture of his parents, their house, their profession or business, his friends? his life??

    I dont accept a few paragraphs in a vague article as proof.

  4. Pravar says:

    For a few posters here especially those that feel an anger towards India espe for its Kashmir policies/ alluding to so called ‘mistreatment’ of Indian Muslims,I have some observations. Some of these may be wrong and some quite simplistic in conclusions, but I encourage any sane/non name calling corrections. Also I agree that any govt’s policies are never without any adverse reaction from somewhere and certainly Indian bureaucrats and politicians have misserved the great people-whether Muslims or Hindus.

    Now lets talk about the amusing charge of ‘Muslims in India are mistreated so they are rising up in revolt’…

    In any country, especially one with India with huge population competing for limited resources including jobs, education opportunities, land etc; there are bound to be feelings of deprivation/injustice etc. But many of times it is due to sub continent

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