Sunday, June 15, 2008

Rest in peace

I was vigorously browsing through the internet on June 8th when BBC Radio reported the stabbing of 14 people in Akihabara. "Is it the same Akihabara that I visited a few days ago?" I was still registering the question when a reported from the place confirmed it saying " a buzzing street known for the electronic goods...".

Quite honestly, for reasons unknown, I didn't feel too sentimental about it then. Yesterday, my friend and I went out to the nearby mall and on the way he mentioned about going to Akihabara for purchasing a few toys for his kids. Only when he started walking toward the railway station did I realize that he meant to go to Akihabara right then. Having nothing better to do, I just followed. "I wonder where the stabbing happened?". As I stepped out of the Akihabara railway station, I noticed the usual buzzing activity of people walking in and out of the numerous electronic stores, a nearby cafe playing music aloud, traffic policemen regulating movement and sales men from unknown companies yelling at the crowed urging them to buy their product. I thought I would never know where the stabbing occurred and somehow that thought relieved me.

After ten minutes of loitering around inside a shop and and a cup of cafe latte from a French cafe, the stabbing incident disappeared into oblivion once again. I was inquiring a wireless headset in a couple of small shops. All of them directed me to the biggest shop in the area for computer hardware called "Softmap". As we walked towards the shop, my colleague insisted that we first go past Softmap to another shop to purchase the toys he wanted get back to Softmap on our way back to the station. As we walked along gossiping all the way to the signal right outside the entrance of Softmap my colleague walked directly into the field of vision of a guy training his camera on to something. "Bhaskar you are walking..", I stopped suddenly when I noticed a small white shed with people standing around it. We went closer to take a look. The shed was full with an assortment of bouquets, chocolates, water bottles, cool drinks, juice cans, pictures and numerous other things. Just then a man walked to the shed, placed a sealed water bottle, moved away, brought together his hand and started sincerely praying with his eyes closed. After a minute, he started walking into his routine. I noticed then that all who gathered around there did the same.

That was the place where the stabbing occurred. Right in front of Softmap where I was standing days earlier, waiting for my friends to complete their shopping. This is the closest I got to a killing. The realization, instead of giving me a sense of horror, made me feel ashamed. Seven people died in a violent manner right at the place where I was standing a few days earlier! Until that moment, to me, those seven people were just a number mentioned on BBC Radio. I realized how insensitive I was to the stabbing when I heard the news in the BBC. Seeing the people pray with such sincerity was a very humbling experience. On my way back, I added a bottle of juice and prayed...May none die in vain again. May their soul to rest in peace.

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