Think of Mumbai, and you can visualise snapshots of the glittering Taj, the balmy sea face, and the struggler who has landed at CST with a bag of dreams and sparkly eyes. You can then see snapshots of crowded trains, vibrant signals and the sprawling malls. Materialism and idealism combine a heady cocktail in Mumbai.
And then you hear of the resilient Mumbaiker. They who carry their aspirations on their elbows, who have buried all loss and sadness under a perennial smile, and those who chatter with strangers on trains and chawls, who know that there is goodness just around the corner, even in this din and noise and miasma that is Mumbai.
Yesterday, a railway overbridge fell in Andheri, there was a fire outbreak at a ticket counter on Mira Road, a double-decker bus crashing into an overhead railing near Kalina University and commuters panicked due to a short circuit in Virar. Last week, a chartered plain crashed in Ghatkopar.
Image Credit: static
Before these incidents, stampede killed commuters at Elphinstone station. Mumbai faces flood like situations almost every year. During the epic floods in 2016, celebrities and neighbours alike, came out to help stranded locals. Even during the terror attacks of 2008, Mumbaikers conducted them with utmost Christian ethics, helping anyone who needed assistance.
And after tragedy, Mumbaiker is up on his feet the next day. As a new sun shines on the city, the local sheds the dust, and wakes up to a routine, where tragedy is only an intermission.
Every time someone hails the resilience of this city, I want to shrug them out of their utopia and ask them what choice does the Mumbaiker have. Empty pockets and crowded homes drive him to work, come rain or bullets. He does not have a choice but to follow routine. Because that is his only jihad against starvation. Angels don’t await him in a promised land. He is just dragging the burden of an aspirational India, and trudges along, smiling at the tragedies like obstacles in a marathon.
The Mumbaiker may have adapted resilience. But that is so, because he has no choice. As the country watched the financial capital overcome one hurdle after another, he rises like a phoenix because he knows no better, than to go on living.