Monday, March 14, 2011

Grim post for a depressing day

Bahrain, the country where I grew up, is in the midst of a law and order situation at the moment. Anti-government protesters have started attacking both police and civilians, blocking roads and causing mayhem in this otherwise peaceful country. Things are spiralling out of control and people have been advised to stay indoors. I am fearful for my family and friends who are living in the midst of this chaos. When I told mom that she and dad should think about coming back to India, she said, “If something has to happen it can happen anywhere.”

Bahrain is a tiny little island country that I considered very very peaceful. That was probably because I lived in an ignorant little expat bubble. But never has something to this effect happened before. It just goes to show that anything can happen anywhere.

I’ve had two experiences that I believe can be classified as near death experienced. It’s not like I think about these incidences on a daily basis. But when I do, I remember to thank God that I am alive today. They made me realise how close death is to us all the time. Walking with us like a shadow, ready to snap us up in an instant. Like most of you, I too believed firmly that death was a distant foggy eventuality that will occur when I’m nearly a 100. These two incidences shook me out of my reverie.

On 1st October, 2002, around 10 am, I was sitting in the balcony of my parent’s house in Goa. It was the year I had graduated and instead of continuing my studies in Mumbai, I decided to come home and look at my options there. Mom and I would usually spend some time in the balcony after breakfast. On this particular day she was speaking to my dad over the phone, while I was going through the morning newspaper. She finished her conversation, switched off the cordless phone and looked up to see two navy planes in the sky. The airport is close by so the sound of planes landing and taking off is a constant. As I read the newspaper, I heard her say, “It’s falling! It’s falling!” I look up and see a plane headed towards us! That moment is frozen in my memory forever. The nose of the plane. It was right in front of me. Or at least it looked that way.

Even as we stood up and made towards the front door, I wondered why we were running when death was chasing us at such a speed. At the speed of a plane. By the time we reached the front door, the plane had already flown past the top of our house,the mosque nearby and crashed into a recently completed bungalow beyond it. A mushroom-shaped ball of fire rose into the air, just like in the movies, I thought.

The bungalow belonged to some family friends. They were due to move in to their new home shortly. We later learnt that two naval planes collided in mid-air. My mother watched the first one turn nose down and the other head towards us. All the 12 individuals aboard the two planes were instantly killed, along with 3 on the ground.

If that plane has hit the ground 3 seconds earlier, it could have been our home.


On 9th May 2009 I was at my parent’s home again for 2 months, with my 1 year old daughter. We usually slept in the downstairs bedroom but the air conditioner wasn’t working so we slept in an upstairs bedroom. Only my grandma was sleeping in her room on the ground floor. Saturday night, I woke up a little after 1 AM when my daughter stirred in her sleep. She usually needed a bottle of milk in the night and I decided to heat the milk and be back before she woke up completely. I’m generally quite scared of moving around a big house in the middle of the night and I would have woken my mom up to do the needful, but she was sleeping so peacefully that I decided to go downstairs on my own.

I probably was downstairs only for 2 minutes. Mom always keeps a dim light on in centre room so that the house is never in complete darkness. I went to the kitchen, heated up some milk and took it upstairs. After feeding my daughter, I fell asleep soon. I woke up when the alarm clock rang at 5:30 AM and I saw mom going downstairs. After 2 minutes I could hear her shouting. I grabbed my sleeping child and ran downstairs. Mom was is the bedroom downstairs and saying something loudly which I couldn’t really grasp. My grandma who was woken up from her slumber was looking confused. I walked into the room and it sank in. Every drawer and cupboard door was open and the things within were ransacked. There were things strewn on the bed, mostly empty jewellery boxes.

The robbers got away with a lot of gold and some cash. Artificial jewellery was inspected and left behind on the bed. I guess we were dealing with expert thieves. A briefcase containing passports and important documents was missing too but discovered later behind the house.

The thieves broke open 3 doors to get into the house, entering from the kitchen. How they managed all this without waking anyone up is a mystery. Someone from the nearby mosque mentioned that they saw a car parked near the house after midnight but didn’t think anything could be fishy. The police did the whole investigating shebang - from finger printing, sniffer dog, to questioning suspects but arrived at zilch.

But what really rattles me up, every time I think about it, is – were they in the house when I went down to heat the milk? Or were they hiding just beyond the kitchen door and waiting for me to go back upstairs? What if I had come face to face with them? I guess it doesn’t matter now because it’s all in the past. Yet I can’t help but think sometimes – what if? Best Blogger Tips

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  1. Sounds awful!!! All thanks to Allah that you are alive and safe...both events sound rather terrifying!

  2. Alhumdulilah! Can't thank Allah enough for keeping us safe.

  3. I've just started reading your wonderful blogs. Thanks. Just wanted to ask how things are amidst this turmoil in Oman. I have a job offer from a Muscat based company and have second thoughts now.

  4. @Anon: Thanks! I don't know much about Oman, but they are having some protests there as well. If I were you I wouldn't think of taking up a job in the Middle East right now. Let things settle down and then you can assess your options at that point. The instability is affecting businesses and economy severely. All the best!

  5. OOOOOOOOOO! CREEPY!can't imagine myself in those positions!Some of the lessons life teaches us are greater than those in any really were brave!

  6. @Vids: That is so true. The things life teaches us. And no I was not brave. I had sleepless nights for months after each incident. :(