Cursed cities

Tears welled up in my eyes as the images flitted by on the screen. A brother venting at the camera for the loss of a sister – a sister who had gone out to buy a rakhi for him. An inconsolable mother asking for the culprits to be hanged in front of her eyes for killing her daughter – a daughter for whom she had all the dreams in the world. A father snatching away a mobile phone from a relative, asking him not to tell his daughter that her brother is no more. A father bemoaning the loss of a son-in-law, a husband whose wife does not know he is dead. Students who went to buy books, children who fancied a hot snack amid the light Hyderabad drizzle. August 25th marked a black day in all their lives, a day they would never forget, a day of lost lives and dreams.

Bomb blasts are everyday news if you’re an Indian. But this is so close to home that it hurts more than the others. It’s time my city fell to the curse of the metros in this country. A curse, perpetrated by cowards who kill innocents in the name of religion and region. Cowards who cannot put forth their needs to the establishment through the right channels, who resort to such weapons of terror and pain. All I can do is hope with all my heart that all this blood that has been shed will not go unanswered for, that those who did it will be caught and justice will prevail.  It’s only a hope, but it’s still hope.

And very close on the heels of these terrorists, on being a veritable pain in the you-know-where, are a new breed of insensitive warts called news reporters. I don’t want my news to come from a father who’s just lost his child. Or a man searching for his loved one among mangled remains of the dead bodies in the hospitals. I can wait a few weeks for them to mourn in peace and then recount their tale if they have the heart for it. I wonder what differentiates these media hounds from that bird of prey sitting near a malnourished child, waiting for it to die, so it can live off its remains.

I’ll be honest, I might take the day off tomorrow or I might work from home. I’m sorry, but I’m not some resilient Mumbaikar who can jump back into the daily routine like a jack-in-the-box and show up at work on time, as if nothing happened. I’m just a scared Hyderabadi whose sense of security has been blown to bits. Whose only claim to fame till now was the Charminar and the IT industry. Whose claim to fame now will include bomb blasts and bloodshed. I cannot return to my life nonchalantly when fellow Hyderabadis have lost lives. It could be me next.

And as the Buddha looks upon this city from his seat in the middle of the Hussain Sagar, a sense of irony drifts in the air that one of the blasts occurred right at his feet, in a park named after his birthplace. The Gods have a weird sense of humor, indeed.

And yes, to you, cowardly abomination of hell who perpetrated this act: I’m not a saint or a great leader to say I forgive you. I don’t. I won’t. The day will come when you will be at death’s door and I swear to you, it will not be easy. For you, the only ordeal worse than death will be your judgement in front of the Almighty, when you will be condemned to burn in hell for all of eternity. I cannot forgive you. I cannot give up my right to hate you. So, damn you. Damn you to the ends of damnation.


P.S: Very emotional outburst? Yes. Because it’s my city and it hurts.

P.P.S: We celebrate Onam tomorrow. But a festival is the last thing on my mind right now. Not when 44 families are cremating their dead.


39 thoughts on “Cursed cities

  1. True, it hurts greatly. And yes, don’t know to what extent the media will go to ‘cover’ stories and flash breaking news.

    PS : Back to your blog after a short break



  2. priya, i can understand how you are feeling. trust me. i have been through this in the 2002 gujarat riots. i have seen smoke billowing in the air as houses and commercial establishments were burnt. i have seen the fear on people’s faces that their homes might be next. fully empathise with you. it is a very sad thing to happen to any city. yes, the media could be a bit more sensitive.


  3. *Huggs*

    I know how awful it is to have something happen in the same city as you. I don’t blame you for taking the day off. As for the media- I stopped reading newspapers a long time ago. Not that it solves very much, but then, I don’t begin the day depressed. My post on Pixie Dust seems so empty headed and frivolous next to this. 😦


  4. Priya, I can see the pain pouring out.
    To think some innocent people who are not even aware why their precious lives were taken away in such a cheap manner, hurts.
    Like you said, the cowards shall meet their fate – whatever be their excuse to commit such horrible act.


  5. Priya,

    You write beautifully and go straight to the reader’s soul.

    Though I was a resilient and insensitive Mumbaikar at a time (the insensitivity was the primary reason I left the city), I was at work when I read this. I had to take a 10 minute walk outside my office to get back my bearings.

    Let us hope. It’s all we can do.


  6. I second Mahendra as to the evocative nature of your post. Emotions apart, it is a point to ponder that countries that are lax in their attitude to terror and law enforcement are going to continue to pay a heavy price in life and property. We could do a lot of learning from the much reviled states of Israel and the US.
    The Iraq invasion notwithstanding, the US has stall held strong and prevented a terror attack six years from 9/11. We have 9 to 11 attacks every year!


  7. well poured.

    “Cowards who cannot put forth their needs to the establishment through the right channels, who resort to such weapons of terror and pain.”

    Yes Cowards indeed. I have been always wondering whether do they really know what they are doing? What are they fighting for?
    Human rights ? – by killing humans!!!
    Religious claims ? – which is that religion has taught them to claim the world standing on the stacked dead bodies of innocent people.

    If there is any such religion, then it shud be removed right from the root.

    Fighting is one thing. But fighting for what is the right is totally another.

    Just a word of request to all those maniacs….

    “Fight for ur rights…but not at the expense of the innocent souls. Still this world needs fathers n mothers n brothers n sisters n husband n wife”…

    Just as the boy-who-lived said “we should be having something worth fighting for”…

    My sincere prayers for all those souls, who were pre-empted from the world by psychopaths, to rest-in-peace.

    As priya said lets hope all the blood and tears shed get their due answers…


  8. Thanks, Priya. I’m in Hyderabad too right now but I am tucked away in the “ivory tower” of the university, where people (including me, unfortunately) analyzed the event via statistics and rhetoric.

    Thanks for your post. I needed to read it.


  9. Here are some other postings regarding the blast.


  10. Pingback: Global Voices Online » India: Blasts in Hyderabad

  11. Sathej – I try not to think about these media ppl.. makes me wanna wring their necks! welcome back!

    Priya Iyer – It’s awful, isn’t it? the utter disregard for something as precious as be snuffed out just like that.. wonder what this world is coming to 😦

    Princess – hey, don’t you dare stop those rib-tickling posts of yours.. else the whole world will just go insane with the amount of pain and cruelty that surrounds us.. we need the smiles your highness! 🙂

    RustyN – True. what’s more scary is that there’s no warning or anything for any of these things and those people there who died were just at the wrong place.. i mean, its freaky to place the blame on luck! words dont do justice to my feelings right now.. ‘shit scared’ would be close though 😦


  12. Mahendra – Hope is powerful thing at times you know.. end of the day, we all sleep tonight hoping we’ll wake up tomorrow..not to sound so morose, I’m just blaming it on the bad vibes around me in this city 😦

    Doc – I’ve always felt that the biggest share of our country’s problems is due to our neighbors.. I wonder how it would feel to live in a place where things like this dont happen..

    Sarath – No religion preaches violence.. its our interpretation thats the problem.. so lets hope we all realize that sooner than later

    Blue – 🙂 thx for dropping by..

    AJ – Thx! if not all, will check some out soon..


  13. here are some more


  14. Pingback: Global Voices بالعـربيه » الأرشيف » الهند: تفجيرات في حيدرأباد

  15. I understand what you are saying about the images and that is what the general view of America is when it comes to showing pictures of dead, bloodied bodies.

    But there is another perspective, one that the Jews have with images of the Holocaust, that believes that people need to see the reality of the situation and therefore such images should be unfiltered and shown in all its ugliness so that people understand what really happened (emotionally understand) and will be appropriately outraged at the acts of these monsters and more motivated to fight them.

    So, I can’t say what is the better approach? I know that sometimes righteous anger is called for and if the reality of the images bring that about then perhaps the public needs to see them. We should keep the images from the children but as adults perhaps it is even our responsibility to see the images in order to get a better idea of the suffering involved.


  16. A touching post – true to your heart. I was about to comment about what I thought of media overplaying such events, but then I saw aj’s post above which made me rethink it a bit.

    I think the issue is overplaying and I think many of us do feel that the media overplays it. Ultimately, unfortunately, even news is a business. I have seen ads from news-stations and networks in the US of the kind When such-a-such disaster happened, we were there first. No other network/station gave you as complete a coverage …. Yep – news like most things in the real world is a business too. And in business, games people play can be cold, dirty, and ruthless. Not comforting – I know.


  17. Aparna – 😦 it is..

    AJ – My disgust was with the news reporters, not the news per se..I know the images serve to break us out of our stupor and take notice of whats going on around us..what I hate is the way they push the microphones into the faces of the people who’re mourning, crying bcos they lost family.. its pretty inhuman doing that.. people are at most vulnerable at that stage, naked pain coursing through them.. the least we can do is give them the space to mourn and not pester them with heartless questions like ‘whom did you lose?’!

    Arun K – The ‘overplaying’ bit comes in for any news these days.. on Saturday and Sunday, it was filled with images of Hyderabad.. Monday? It was Onam on the headlines..and Tuesday is Raksha Bandhan..what happened to Hyderabad? the media doesn’t care becos the bombs happened on Saturday, not Tuesday..the world needs to know if Salman’s sisters could tie the rakhi to him. The world does not need to know whats the latest on the bomb blast investigations..


  18. priya

    I don’t know how to express myself. We are grieved so often it seems we are getting used to it.

    The mindset of those who do such things, are beyond my meager understanding. Why do they get pleasure killing people they do not know, who have done nothing to them, at least never knowingly. Does it ever occur to them, that their own brothers and sisters may end up in the same place? Have they ever really thought that those who died, and those who were maimed, were actually his brothers and sisters?

    May God punish the perpetrators of such crimes and make them taste the fruit of what they have done.



  19. My Prayers go out to specifically the victims of the attack, including the families of the victims. My Prayers go out also to the city of Hyderabad and all of India as I know how such an event can effect a whole society.

    As a foreigner I would not presume to tell you how you should react. I can only imagine what I would demand if this happened in my country, and I would feel that extreme actions such as bombings within my county demands extreme measures and it is better that the government does it than for people to become disillusioned with the government and take it upon themselves to do some mob action.


  20. “I hate is the way they push the microphones into the faces of the people who’re mourning, crying bcos they lost family.. its pretty inhuman doing that.. people are at most vulnerable at that stage, naked pain coursing through them.. the least we can do is give them the space to mourn and not pester them with heartless questions like ‘whom did you lose?’!”

    I absolutely agree with you there. And I do blame the reporters themselves for doing that. It is one reason that I for one hold reporters in such low regard.

    When a video of reporter Daniel Pearl was released showing Muslims cutting off his head, I posted on several blogs a scenario where TV reporters would show the video to his widow and ask “so, how do you feel when watching this video, wait let’s show it again this time in slow motion.”

    The point I was making, perhaps cruelly though I can be a cruel person at times, was that the news media would never do that to Pearl’s widow out or respect because he was a fellow journalist but they have no problem doing that to the rest of us in traumatic situations.


  21. There is a great scene in the Bruce Willis movie “Die Hard” where a person punches a news reporter in the nose during his live report at the end of a hostage crisis because he had reported things during the hostage standoff that got people killed and made it more difficult to fight the terrorists.

    I know hatred is a bad emotion but I do real hate news reporters who put their career ahead of the feelings of the people they are reporting on when the people are just innocent victims of a disaster situation. And also when they report information that could only serve to make the situation worst instead of holding off on the information until later.


  22. What a post. I read that two times. Just so it could sink in. Ive already stopped watching mainstream media and get all my news from the web, especially blogs, youtube etc. Especially when ordinary citizens can bring heartfelt tears, frustration at terrorists and a sense of respect for the fallen, and write because the tragedy of the moment compels them to speak out, and not because of TRPs and Ad revenue.


  23. Another blogger, Sugata Banerji shares Priya’s sentiments regarding media coverage of the blasts.

    He said “Do these journalists ever pause to think that the body in the photo was somebody’s son, daughter, sibling or spouse a few hours ago? Do they ever put themselves in the shoes of the relatives? Shouldn’t the dead be given a little more privacy?”

    In the United States such images would never be shown. And that is a point of some controversy. For as much as we want to give the dead privacy many feel in such situations the dead need to cry out. What I mean is they feel that in such situations people need to see the horror for themselves to not just intellectually but emotionally feel what happened. Such acts should cause outrage and shielding these images from the public would do a disservice for it will limit the public having a better understanding of what suffering really occurred.

    I don’t know what perspective is better. I certainly agree with Priya and believe that Journalists shouldn’t go up to the victims and their families and try to interview them in their time of pain. That I feel is insenstive and I would even go so far as saying it’s cruel.

    But as for the images, I am beginning to understand the perspective that says they must be shown. We weren’t there, we will never understand the full horror of the situation, but perhaps we do owe it to the victims to at least try to get as good a understanding of the situation as we can and those pictures are a way to more fully experience the reality of what really happened.

    I respect the privacy of the dead, but sometimes the need for outrage overides the need for privacy.


  24. Here is another interesting blog

    Its article on the Hyderabad Blast is filled with satirical sarcasm.

    “The support from the Health Ministry has galvanised the government to re-open several issues that they claim, contrary to public perception, is linked deeply with national security. These issues include sex-education in schools, demanding apologies for being called a “headless chicken,” and whether or not Salman Khan was made an example out of. “I am glad that the government is not bowing down to public opinion and arranging their priorities according to their importance in the grand scheme,” said Ramadoss, “we must ensure that what happened on Saturday in Hyderabad does not happen ever again and we will do whatever it takes.” The Minister said that he is confident that once sex education is banned in schools, cigarette smoking is banned in films, sanitary napkin ads are banned on television, surrogate liquor branding in banned in advertising and Salman Khan is swiftly released, India’s national security concerns will be over forever.”


  25. Did you know that two thousand years ago a Roman citizen could walk across the face of the known world free of the fear of molestation? He could walk across the earth unharmed, cloaked only in the words ‘Civis Romanis’ I am a Roman citizen. So great was the retribution of Rome, universally understood as certain, should any harm befall even one of its citizens.


  26. I can understand how you feel Priya. We in Delhi have faced it regularly. It really hurts to know that the suspect in this case is a Hyderabadi. My heart goes out to the nears and dears of the victims.


  27. When the Bangalore math professor was shot a couple years ago, the headlines said “Terror moves south.” As someone who spent 3 years in south India, it does really hurt to know that the “safe, traditional” south is no longer so.

    It is also painful to acknowledge that the suspects are not necessarily “foreigners.” Wouldn’t it be so easy to point the finger outside? gratifying, too. But it’s not so simple. In the US we had the same situation with the Oklahoma City bombings. Everyone immediately suspected “Islamic terrorists.” But it was a couple of crazy white midwesterners.

    Extra pain and cognitive dissonance, with that realization.


  28. Yes…very shocking news that was…A month back too it was the 7th or 8th anniversary of the bomb blasts in my city..we were dreading something bad would happen…then a few days later this happens in hyderabad….everytime i see such news int he paper…first a wave f anger surges…i dont get what they get out of this…

    they keep saying the world is coming to an end … I guess a part of it which encompasses all thats good and pure in this world has alreayd ended…sigh


  29. Very touching post Priya… Your narration brought back memories from the Mumbai train blasts last year. I remember the panic, the fear and feeling of being lost. Next day we all came to office, but I the empty cubicle of a friend sitting very next to me felt painfully conspicuous…
    I always believed that if a man is good, nothing will happen to him ever. I don’t think that way anymore.


  30. A very emotional post Priya. I lived in Hyderabad for one and a half years till January, and I can feel the pain and anger all Hyderabadis must be feeling. I also wrote a post about the insensitivity of the press when I saw the blown up photos of the blown up bodies on the first page of the newspapers. It was horrible. Especially since I knew that I could have been one of those killed if it happened a few months ago.
    I think this attitude of the press is due to the fact that human life itself has become very cheap and expendable in our country. Last week it was the bomb blasts, yesterday it was the flyover collapsing. Before that the McDonalds outlet in Kolkata blows apart, killing an innocent passerby, only due to somebody’s bloody negligence. For one day we’ll see gruesome photos and pathetic interviews in the media. And the next day? We have Salman khan and Sanjay Dutt on the first page. Wherever this country is headed, I don’t see a lot of respect for common people there.


  31. Pingback: Grieving in Hyderabad | DesiPundit

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