The footage on TV and pictures in papers brought me head on with a past I had left 16 years behind. The same city. The same fire. The same bodies. The same mortuary. The flames claimed anything between 50 and 100 lives. Sixteen years ago, the extent of the inferno was larger, though the bodies were fewer. I had walked the brick-littered streets then; I walked this time on TV. If the Meerut riots on the 1991 election eve were a harsh slap that woke me up from my school-college, carefree-living slumber and introduced the real world, the Victoria Park fire is bringing to life memories of an India that lies beyond the metro malls. If election violence put me off political reporting, yesterday’s fire is a reminder that I can run but I can’t hide.
Opinion in The Indian Express, April 11, 2006