September 06, 2007

Bangalore Burns, Arnab Bleeds

"What are you waiting for?! Run!!!"

I was reeled back into reality from a dreamlike state by my roommate Shyam's screams. Looking around, I saw everyone hurriedly clearing out of the small restaurant I was in. Panic was in the air. Everyone was rushing to the back of the dining room, into the kitchen, and out through the rear exit. I quickly followed them outside into the back yard, which was enclosed on the left and right by neighbouring buildings and by a 8 ft high wall at the back. A "Where's Arnab?" query came from a familiar voice just as I saw Shyam's body disappear over the top of the wall. Several more people followed him over before I too pulled myself to the top of the ledge, using cracks in the wall as leverage to power myself up. I discovered that the distance from the top of the wall to the bottom was almost double that of what I had just climbed on the other side. The descent was not even mildly pleasurable, although it did create a healthy distance between myself and my pursuers. I slid downwards along the face of the wall before letting go and landing on the ground beneath. A sprint through deserted back alleys and over some rail lines would lead us back to the safety of our flat.

Moments ago, a man with a motorcycle had come in through the front entrance of the Fraser Town eatery I had been dining in, warning everyone that an angry mob was fast approaching and to get out as soon as possible. The front shutters were pulled down as sounds of rapidly approaching footsteps, threatening shouts, thrown rocks, and heavy pounding were heard on the outside. At this critical juncture in time I had put down the food I was eating, stood up, paused, heard Shyam yelling, saw people fleeing, and joined them in beating a hasty retreat.

Once I had caught my breath, I checked to see if my comrades were alright and then examined my wounds. I had scraped my arms when I had grazed the wall, with the area between my arms and elbows bleeding from several lacerations. My skin, a surface so far left unblemished by the actions of man now bore the scars of communal violence, but the injuries were mainly superficial. Questions still remained to be answered though. ARNABlood had been shed tonight, but for what and by whom?