‘A tragedy to Mumbai, is a tragedy to me’

By Anupam Kher, IANS,

Born in Shimla, in the foothills of the Himalayas, I came to Mumbai 27 years ago in search of a career. That career eventually gave me a chance to showcase my talent, according me national recognition, and also some fame. I am thankful for that chance the city gave me.

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Over the decades I have slowly realised that Mumbai has seeped into my bones, into my psyche, almost imperceptibly. And it gradually changed me forever. As a small-town boy, its hugeness dwarfed me. It made me feel insignificant and that feeling made me strive to become a ‘somebody’ in the metropolis.

The huge bank of available talent and the prevailing competition spurred me to give every role my best shot. Unconsciously, the city broadened my horizons, made me an international citizen and also sparked a professional attitude in my approach to life.

Yes. I became a Mumbaikar. So whenever a tragedy happens to Mumbai, it happens to me.

I have been wounded when the blasts occurred in 1993, when the city went down in floods, when the trains were bombed, and indeed on many other occasions. But this time, when a handful of terrorists battered Mumbai senseless for 60 hours, I have become comatose.

As I write, I am many thousands of miles away from my city, in South Africa, and I am trying to find my bearings.

Many questions course my mind – Is it worth the endeavour to become somebody significant when our life itself is at stake? Is it worth the effort to remain an achiever when you do not know if a meal at a restaurant or a walk down the streets may be your last?

I am restless and I am angry as I am sure are millions of my countrymen. I believe that no circumstance in life should change my attitude to life. I must carry on living with zest or I will die.

In this numbness, I must be inspired by what I have learnt from Mumbai in 27 years. I must go back to life and living. Else, I will be betraying all those who have given their today so that we can have a tomorrow.

I want to live, not exist. So I must go back to the beginning…

(Anupam Kher is an actor and filmmaker)