Oh! Taj

It stood brave, silent and stoic. In face of terror, it did not relent. This was the Taj of India, the country`s symbol of bravura.

By Akrita Reyar | Last Updated: Sep 24, 2014, 14:59 PM IST

Akrita Reyar

It stood brave, silent and stoic.

In face of terror, it did not relent. This was the Taj of India, the country`s symbol of bravura. Its giant weary shoulders did not succumb. Trampled under damned feet of mindless terror, its soul cried in pain, but its stamina did not vain. Mumbai’s icon, its most loved landmark….appearing from the shadowy horizon to a million sailors’ gaze, as they gently floated over the swaying Arabian Sea. It was the first sign that the Indian shores were near. A piece of living history, it breathed life not without a cause. When Indians were turned away from the haughty “White Only” doors, the legendary Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata in 1903 erected the Indian dream, heralding the message of equality in times yet steeped in colonial snobbery. So if the Europeans boasted of elegance, India was capable of greater beauty. Each of its over 500 rooms was decorated uniquely in traditional Indian, Moorish, Oriental and Florentine styles. Its rubicund domed body rests opposite the Gateway of India, from where it bid farewell to withdrawing British troops in 1947; not as foes, but as friends. Its antique walls, so rich in lithography, speak of times gone by with more conviction than reams of history. Associated with so much that pleases, it regaled with lucullan spreads for Queen Elizabeth II, Gamal Abdul Nasser, John Lennon, Bill Clinton and so many more stars, who virtually thrive on front pages. In its 105-years of its existence it has seen several tumultuous epochs, a carousal of the changing face of India. And while the scape of Mumbai was slowly lined and dotted with towering masses of steel and glass, Taj stood in its pristine magnificence. But Nov 26 was different. As if entering a forbidding chamber of the night, the sinister episode began in a whisper. Like a dreadful dream, with lurking images of execrable creatures softly creeping into its immaculate precincts. However the nightmare did not end with a new dawn that would put behind it a story that wasn’t. It stretched through the gloomy night into the next morning and slipped into night again. Its agony unending. Enemies of India were determined to assault, Taj resolute to endure, and survive. Its dense bulwarks were rigged to injure and demolish. One after the other explosions were set off. The last count at over 26. Its interior walls converted into a mesh by incessant bullets. Its marbled floors stained with blood, perhaps forever. Thick flames licked the dark sky. But its steely bones would not melt, even in searing temperatures. With courage it swallowed all harm inflicted on its hoary body. Mumbaikars saw their beloved Taj wrapped in misery. But its legacy was in safe hands. Ratan Tata, a few generations down the founding father Jamsetji, has also the blood of a patriot running in his veins. The grave heir promised with emollient words, more determined than ever, that the Taj would be restored….and to its full glory. The Taj will live another day. But its sacrifice should not be allowed to erase from our fragile memory. Through its ordeal, even though we have shed a tear, we must learn to hear deeply its sapient counsel. ”Don’t cry for me, but live my dream.”