Shell shocked but fortunate


Shubhra Saxena was at Central Park on the day of the blasts in Delhi. She shares her story

Photo: Shailendra Pandey

I STILL REMEMBER that evening vividly. Sitting at Central Park in Connaught Place with my friends, discussing the virtues of meeting in the open. The sounds still echo in my mind – the chaiwala selling tea, children playing, chitchat of the teenagers and amongst all these, that ghastly explosion!

Boom! Nothing happened at first. Could it be gunfire? Or a blast? The idea of a bomb going off in the heart of the city was unreal. Then I saw pigeons fall down and a thick veil of smoke engulfed the park. Although this happened in a fraction of a second almost a year ago, the scene is etched in my memory forever. Another blast. The heat and the tremors reached us before the sound this time. We jumped to our feet with a blank expression; numb and unsure. A zillion thoughts raced through my mind. It was clear that a set of bombs had been set off.

At the time I didn’t know I was witness to one of the horrifying blasts that shook Delhi. I could have been one of the 24 victims killed or the over 125 injured in the five bomb blasts at Karol Bagh, Central Park, Barakhamba Road, and GK-I’s M-Block market.

Within seconds we went from a group of college kids to being survivors of the two blasts. The media and the security personnel descended in hordes. They ignored our shocked faces and asked us to vacate the spot.

The area was full of ambulances, fire trucks, police cars and media vans were jostling for space. A part of me wanted to stay back and help the victims, but my survival instinct prevailed. We trudged towards the NSD campus. Only after we got there did we hug each other for the first time. I was lucky to be alive and realised what my life meant to others.

It took me days to come out of the trauma. My parents were there to support me. I couldn’t help but think of the victims’ families. I read about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how it can be severe for survivors of events that would involve death, serious injury, rape and terrorist attacks. But the sad truth is that this trauma gets overridden by copious media reports and hasty government assurances.

Whenever I hear of a blast in the country, that fateful day comes back to me. I feel fortunate, but I also wonder — what happened to the survivors who lost their loved ones?

Saxena studies at the Amity School of Communication, Amity University.
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