Zeenath Jahan


My grandson called today. Ahmad is my eldest grandson, 23 years old and the light of my life. I remember the day he was born, the first day he walked and spoke. His first word was ‘oobah’, water in Pashto. While he was studying in America he often asked me to edit his work and I learned a whole lot from just reading what he had written. Recently he graduated from a college in America and went home to Pakistan to work with his father in his family business. I can imagine that his father is proud of his eldest son who has grown to be such a fine, bright, loving person. Yes, I am a proud grandmother, but then, Ahmad is a grandson to be proud of!

Over the months since he has been home, his father has been delegating more and more important jobs for his son to take care of; and each time his son has excelled at the task set for him. Frequently his father sends him abroad to meet with other business leaders in emerging markets; that is how much faith he has in his son! Recently Ahmad went to India to clinch a deal. He was staying at the Taj Hotel and had arrived a few days before the horrendous attacks in Mumbai. He went out to visit a friend that fateful day and his friend insisted he stay on for dinner. Luckily Ahmad agreed. On the 26th of November, around 9.30PM he returned to his hotel. The guard at entrance told him not to go in, as there seemed to be some sort of ‘gang war’ going on. My grandson went back with his friend and that is when they learned the real nature of the ‘gang war’ at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai. Besides all the other bloody scenes, the one that is etched in my mind is of the restaurant where my grandson had had lunch that day; it had become the scene of carnage where everyone had been lined up against the wall and murdered in cold blood. But for the Grace of God my grandson could have been one of those unfortunate victims.

Ahmad stayed that night at his friend’s house but the next day the father of his friend asked Ahmad to leave as he was ‘nervous’ about having a Pakistani in his home. Ahmad called a few of his father’s well-placed friends who agreed to take him in; it was not safe to be in India without a passport, especially for a Pakistani. It was some days later that my grandson’s belongings, passport etc were retrieved from the hotel by his father’s friend. He got back everything except his Blackberry phones. He had taken two with him on his trip; one with a Pakistani SIM card and the other to use with an Indian one, except that Indian SIM cards wouldn’t fit. So he ended up using them as alarms to wake him (he has missed morning appointments before) and bought another phone to use while in India to remain in contact with his business and personal friends in India.

My grandson called me today to tell me he was safely back home. Thank God I had been unaware of his ordeal. I am grateful that my family decided to protect an old woman. I do believe the stress may have killed me!

Thank God my grandson is safe, but how many other ‘grandsons’ didn’t make it? How many people went out to the Taj for an entertaining evening and a good meal and never came back? Today my grandson’s experience has forcefully brought home the horror of that fateful night in all its dark malignancy.

Ahmad was lucky to have gone to the hotel after the killing had started, he was lucky to have had influential contacts to protect him from the Indian Intelligence Services and his family is blessed to have him home again, safe and sound. A Pakistani in India, staying at the Taj at the very time of the attack may have been too coincidental at a time when a sorrowful, angry nation was searching for someone on whom to wreak vengeance.

Pakistanis are in denial and Indians are baying for blood and pointing a finger across the border at Pakistan as the source of the murderous plan. Some one planned it, someone carried out the plan, but no one, neither India nor Pakistan wants to acknowledge that those murderous youngsters or the malignant mind that prepared the plan as their own. I understand that. What I cannot accept is that a human being like you and me thought up the plan and worked it out in its every gory detail. I am sure he/they must then have proceeded to justify and rationalize their actions; maybe even bringing in God on their side? No, I cannot accept that a human being like you and me did this; this has to be the handiwork of Evil personified that walks the world today.