An Hour: 60 minutes: 3600 seconds!

26th July 2008: 6:00 p.m: A normal day, normal hour, so I thought. I was on my way to school for extra-classes. There was a road to cross and I waited along with others for the signal to turn green. There were children all over the place, some on bicycles, some chattering along and others huddled around food-stalls. The street vendors were marketing their products loud and clear adding to the general noise around.

6:15 p.m: Still along the same road, the traffic slowly mounting.

6:17 p.m : I heard a deafening noise some place close – boom – followed by black smoke and a gush of dusty air hit us all from where the boom originated. There was black smoke every where and a horrible smell emanated. People just started running in all directions. Vehicles picked up speed. People tried calling on their cell phones but they were jammed. The signal had stopped working.

In a few seconds, the picture had meta-morphed from the busy lane to a ghastly place.

6: 25 p.m : A second explosion went off at the next cross-road which was the most probable escape route to the ones who survived the first explosion. There was even more commotion all around. People kept running in all directions and those in their cars driving even faster. One question seemed to be in everyone’s minds – was there another blast expected?

6:55 p.m. : I was home, I don’t know how. It ‘was’ just a normal day. My mother berated and quizzed me about my quick return. Just then the television began blaring news about serial blasts in Ahmedabad. There were 17 live bombs which went off in a chain, killing and injuring about 200 people in the city

I could not sleep that night and the following nights. The visuals kept coming back, the sound of the explosions still vivid. I could not sleep for months after that. That one hour was the most life-changing one for me.

Years have passed for the incident and today I get sleep at night but the fear of a blast anytime and anywhere continues to haunt.