War cry from Paris, not in my name

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I had been sleeping badly, I kept waking up, losing my breath and lying back down to rest. A phone call. My husband comes to wake me up. There has been a terrorist attack in Paris, my native home. I couldn’t believe it and at once knew it was true. I went online and saw the news, my family had already sent me messages not to worry. They were safe and at home. A close friend wrote ‘There were shootings in Paris tonight, hope you don’t freak out when you read the news tomorrow and everybody you know is all right. I am safe in my flat.’

Seven years earlier I had escaped from the Leopold Café in the middle of a shootout. I had crawled out onto the sidewalk, crouched by my wounded friend, seen a boy with an AK47 looking at the road, heard more gunshots and had run away with her bleeding at my side. Some navy boys got us to a local doctor who took care of us that night. Two days later we were put on a plane to France, we made the headlines as the wounded French girls who had seen horror up close.

But now my native city has witnessed the same horrors. A friend of mine at the Petit Cambodge also managed to survive the shootout with broken glass in the leg. I’m not scared, after surviving one attack, I know deep down we are never safe and we must have the courage to live. My victory is living the life I want, in Mumbai, despite the terrorists who wanted me dead. I wish Paris would do the same, mourn in peace and recover.

I’m devastated by what happened, killing people is unforgiveable, but revenge brings no justice. I’m very wary of the war rhetoric that has taken over the media.  The word is permeating every article I read on the attacks : “terrorism of war”, “it’s an act of war”, and efficientdoctors who rallied together and efficiently saved lives were practising “war medicine.”

A close friend wrote ‘There were shootings in Paris tonight, hope you don’t freak out when you read the news tomorrow and everybody you know is all right. I am safe in my flat.'

I don’t want this war against an enemy that feeds on violence. Why stoop down to that level? Extreme ideologues of all faiths the world over despise secular and diverse societies; better not rise to the bait. Take the debate on less bloody ground. Live on despite being attacked, let the violence end with you. After 26/11 the Indian government at the time had the courage to not go to war.

The more I read about Paris the more I’m impressed by the quick reaction of the firemen, ambulances and police forces that appeared within minutes on location to get the wounded out and free the hostages. To remain organised in front of such a crisis and manage so quickly so many wounded that needs to be acknowledged.Mumbai on 26/11 was not as ready, ambulances never showed up at the Leopold; only the army appeared a long half hour later with a truck to pick up survivors and the wounded. The police across the way never showed its face.  The quick reaction in Paris of police and doctors alike ensured that the death count did not rise. I also appreciate the decision to keep the France/Germany match going, if people had been outside the stadium, the dead may have been in the thousands.

Terrorism can happen anywhere anytime, there is little you can do against someone who thinks death is a way of life; but if you survive, you can spite their death wish by living, and deal with the chaos when it strikes.

When I saw the video of the French parliament singing the national anthem after President Hollande’s belligerent speech it sent shivers down my spine, reinforcing the war message with the bloody lyrics of the ‘Allonsenfants de la patrie’. I felt excluded, I felt like yelling : not in my name.




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