A journey cut short

Published : Jan 02, 2009 00:00 IST

Afroj Abbas Ansari: "We had no time to run. My uncle was shot; he fell on me."-GAUTAM SINGH/AP

Afroj Abbas Ansari: "We had no time to run. My uncle was shot; he fell on me."-GAUTAM SINGH/AP

SAGIR ANSARI, 30, and his family were supposed to go to their native Mananpur village in Navada district in Bihar to celebrate Bakr-id. They were waiting for the 11.25 p.m. Rajendra Nagar Express at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus on November 26, 2008, when the attackers wrecked their plans.

Within minutes, Rakhila Abbas Ansari, her husband Abbas Razab Ansari, her brother Mohammed Illias Ansari, 40, her nephews Sarfaraz Salauddin Ansari, 17, and Murtuza Ansari Salauddin, 17, and the couples son-in-law Mohammed Arif Mohammed Islam, 27, were struck down by the terrorists. Rakhila and Abbas children, Afroj, 12, and Mehboob, 18, were injured.

For Sagir, Rakhilas son, it was a ruthless jolt. He had gone to the toilet when the attack took place. When he came out a few minutes later, his family was no more. He saw his brother Mehboob injured and lying on the ground, and took him to hospital. Some people had already taken Afroj to hospital. Sagir learnt about Afroj only the next day.

Another family member was also in for a shock like Sagir. Taxi driver Israil Ansari, another brother of Rakhila, had dropped the family at the stations entrance and had gone to park his vehicle before planning to join them. That was the last he saw of his sister and the rest of his kin. I reached the gate and heard the firing, he says.

Afroj is still in hospital. He will be discharged in a few days. Then we will all go to our village, says Sagir. Afroj is just about reconciling with the horror and the loss of his parents. I came to Mumbai a year ago from my village. In Mumbai, I took Urdu lessons. I will go back to my village and to my school, he says. We had no time to run. My uncle was shot; he fell on me, says Afroj.

Afroj and Mehboob learnt of their parents death only recently. Afroj kept asking why mummy and daddy had not come to see him at the hospital, says Sagir. Firoze, Rakhilas youngest child, is only five. When his restlessness over the absence of his mother grew, relatives took him to a cemetery.

Your mother and father are here, they told him. He was crying. It took us two days to pacify him, says Sagir.

Like the Ansari children, Arifs four children, all aged below ten, are also going through the pain of losing a parent. They are with their mother at their village.

The Ansari family lived in Mumbra, Thane, and earned a living by making bags and purses, doing zari work, and selling perfumes.

They are a poor family. They spent what they earned during the day, says Pappuraj Nayeem Khan, president of Nagina Masjid, where Israil lives.

Khan remembers Illias as a devout Muslim who always wore his cap and kurta pyjama and sported a beard. He was in the traditional attire on the night of the attack, unlike others. Khan says Illias was disturbed by the troubled times in Mumbai, especially after the attacks on North Indians.

Rahi Gaikwad
Sign in to Unlock member-only benefits!
  • Bookmark stories to read later.
  • Comment on stories to start conversations.
  • Subscribe to our newsletters.
  • Get notified about discounts and offers to our products.
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment