I write this especially in dedication to the one who valued my life long before I even cared about it. Also, I would like to thank my mother, my pastor, his wife and the entire church that prayed for me and my safety the night of November 26, 2008. Thanks for being a wonderful loving family! Thanks for being with me and helping me grow in the Lord. Love you all so much. Jesus used you all to bring me back on track.
Three years ago, I was comfortable. I had my dream job. I was with a guy I loved so much that I wanted to start a family with him someday. Yes, there were trials, but not so big ones. I went to Church Service on Sundays and even sang in the worship team or what some call choir.
My life looked good on the outside, but my insides were in utter ruin. I grew cold from my once burning faith. I was okay with what was going on. I was what Jesus called a white washed tomb that had dead dry bones on the inside. I had a smile on my face, but I really wished I was dead. So much hurt, unforgiveness, anger and more. I wanted to live life my way on my own terms. Yet the Lord loved me and kept dealing with me. I took Him for granted. Today, I thank Him for turning me around and making me understand how much of a value my life is. I allowed the words of people to rule my life and ruined it completely. Enough for the backgrounder on this prodigal. I am back safe and sound in my Heavenly Father’s arms. Here’s what happened that night:
I was a crime reporter with a well-known English daily. We had night shifts once every three months. That week it was my turn to be the night reporter. So, I planned my story. I was going to do a special on drugs in the city’s night scene. I was dressed in 3/4th pants and a black shirt to blend in with the young crowd. I was set to sneak in the midst of revellers and come out with an exclusive story. After reaching work at 9 pm, I put down my bag and went to touch up my makeup (trying to blend in with the party crowd). I came back when suddenly, our Sport’s Editor excitedly shouts and says rush to Leopold’s Cafe there has been a shootout. He said, “A friend of mine is just outside Leopold’s and the shooting is still happening. Rush to get us an exclusive before other papers catch it.”
Like a soldier ready to take on an attack, I gathered all together, equipped with a pen, paper, camera, bottle and my signature big bag. Pradeep my colleague (photographer) and a driver were with me. As we were driving to the Cafe, suddenly we heard gun firing at CST or VT station. Immediately, we stopped the car and got down to investigate what was happening. People were rushing by the numbers, trying to get out of the railway station. It was chaos, almost a stampede. There were only male policemen at the spot and no ladies, so I jumped in to help them escort the women. There were a couple of old women and children too. It was an image of fear that I never saw in real life before. Then the police just ran away all of a sudden it was just Pradeep and I helping the last few out. By then, it was too late for me to run because the two gunmen shot at anything that moved or made noise. They shot a man on a bike, who was just passing by right outside the station. It had not even sunk in that these were terrorists. I wondered why they were killing people. We crawled behind a bus stop with two other men and tried our best to get towards safety. We tried to edge towards policemen about a kilometre or so away.
Then we reached a dead-end, where if we crawled further, we would be exposed and probably be gunned down. So we had to perch behind a thin wall and lay flat one after another in a gutter. All we could do was pray. I sent an SMS to my loved ones – my mom, pastor, some church friends and loved ones. I just said pray for my safety. I did not have the time to say much. Then, with a prayer I put off my cell phone because even vibrations from the cell phone would give the gunmen a hint as to where we were. They had some clue about us being around. They threw a grenade that bounced and blew off on the other side of the road. Only some debris hit us. I lay looking at the stars from 10 pm to about 11.30 afraid. I wondered if that was the day I would meet my end. I asked Jesus to forgive me and wash my sins away. I just wanted to know that I was accepted by Him. I suddenly realised my life was of value. I really wanted to live. I asked God to forgive me for wanting to die. I said God you often said I had a calling on my life and a purpose, I ignored that and I am sorry. Please if I live I want to end up living for you. Help me! My prayer was heard. I was spared. I said God I don’t deserve to be claiming your promises, but I know You are gracious and merciful. I am truly sorry. Please forgive me and save me from the enemy’s clutches. I claimed Psalm 91 over my life.
I improvised Psalm 91 like this:
I dwell in the secret place of the Most High through grace and the Blood of Jesus. I abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
Surely Lord You will deliver me from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence…
… I shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the BULLETS,
Nor of the GUNMEN that walk in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that flies my way.
A thousand may fall at my side,
And ten thousand at my right hand;
But DANGER shall not come near me….
… No evil shall befall me… For He has given His angels charge over me and will keep me safe… The Lord has promised, “As you shall call upon Me, I will answer you;
I will be with you in trouble; I will deliver you… With long life I will satisfy you and show you My salvation.”
The fear was so gripping that my body froze I couldn’t move. I prayed in tongues and quoted Psalm 91 in my heart. My body wouldn’t even twitch, but my mind was running miles and thinking too many things. It was like I was given anaesthesia. Ambulances, police vans and other such vehicles passed by. They saw us, but did not do much as they feared for their own lives. The police watched from the other side of the road and did not dare venture coming close as they were not equipped. None had bullet proof jackets and very old guns that were nothing compared to the AK 47s that the gunmen had. I am glad that the police promised change and I hope that they are better now.
The Lord sent an ordinary bystander to pull us out on to safety. He especially came as he saw me and was moved by my fear. I am grateful to Mr. Sakaram, who did not even know me, but he saved my life. He dragged me across the gutter with my heavy bag that protected my upper body or else I would’ve been injured from being pulled had I nothing as a buffer between me and the ground. At 11.30 pm I was pulled out and suddenly surrounded by TV news cameras. I could not speak still. They made me dizzy. They asked me how I was and what happened. It just did not sink in. I said I am happy to be alive that is all.
Meanwhile, at home everyone was worried because news channels had shown me caught up and close to the terrorists. My grandma from Europe had seen me and called up my mom to find out if it was me caught up at VT station. People from all over India and across the world recognised me on TV somehow. All my loved ones were just so worried. I switched on my phone, but there was no reception. I went to find some way to call my boss, my home and figure out what was next because I was in much shock and did not know how to deal with it. Suddenly, I came across a Russian couple who didn’t know English. I spoke to them in sign language and managed to get through to them. I told them to come with me to be safe. I went knocking on doors for some shelter. Most people turned us away. One man saw us in need and I told him our dilemma. He took us to his shop and gave us a phone landline that worked. Got through to everyone. Suddenly, I noticed my legs were bleeding. I had scrapped my knees so badly, but I was not in pain. Now I know that was because I was in shock. The kind man gave me antiseptic and bandage. I got through my friend Avi who lived nearby. He bought us food and water. After that I found the company vehicle and asked for permission to get the Russian tourists to the embassy. After which, I went back to cover stories. I went to work, but was too shaken to complete my story on time.
A few days after all was back in order, I tried finding footage on us being held at VT. During my search I found footage from a CCTV camera across the road. It showed that one of the gunmen tried to climb over and shoot us, but something else caught his attention and he went the other way. I see that as God’s hand of protection. Hallelujah and thank You Jesus.
Today, I even almost forgot about this day. My mother brought me flowers and our Church women’s group just sang me happy birthday because I have been given another chance in life. And I owe it all to Jesus! May I never be lukewarm again. It was not a quick homecoming for me after that. I struggled. But today, I am glad I am back in the House of the Lord. That I know His presence and value this life He gave me. It is truly a gift, which was unwrapped until He started dealing with me.
PS: After the attack I had to file a story even with all the shock here it is : http://www.mid-day.com/news/2008/nov/281108-Firing-minor-blast-at-CST-station.htm
At that time was misinformed that Sakaram was a policeman
Here’s a very unclear video of where I was… You could see the heads of two people who were about a few metres in front of me at 00.07-00.09…. they were trying to get help… that’s how close we got… only a wall between us and the terrorists… he almost jumped up to shoot at us! http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=IN&hl=en-GB&v=QulvyYH640U.