I woke up this morning at 5 a.m. Just like every other morning. Unlike every morning though, I reached for my phone and checked the news. I was devastated to hear about the death of a couple of innocent hostages in the Sydney siege at Martin Place overnight. It hadn’t ended well as I’d optimistically thought last night. Sure, the end didn’t seem near but given that no one had died, I held hope for no one to be hurt. Except maybe the man who started it all.
Turns out he died too. And as I read about him, all I could feel was anger. Anger at the justice system for failing us. Anger that he was out on bail after being charged as an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife. Anger that he was on bail even after 40 sexual offences against women.
I shed tears at some of the other articles. Photos of Sydneysiders leaving flowers. Photos of the hostages escaping. The thing is, I am used to terror attacks. I wouldn’t have thought I’d be affected so much. But unlike Mumbai, I honestly believed Sydney was safe.
Spending 15 years of my life in Mumbai, I was no stranger to random acts of terror. Since 1993, Mumbai has experienced its fair share of terror attacks. Most of the world probably knows of the 26/11/2008 attack in the heart of Mumbai. I was here in Sydney at the time and woke up to the news fearing for my loved ones — my sister who caught the train into CST station every day for college, my friends who worked close to the hotels where the terrorists had taken hostages on their shooting spree, my college which they passed through while firing their guns. I have lived through years of having bombs go off in trains I caught to college for 5 years.
There was always fear. There was always someone to blame. There was always anger. But then, there was also solidarity. There were people looking out for one another. There were people exchanging smiles on an otherwise busy train. There were people helping others. It was us against them; ‘them’ being the terrorists. And to beat them, we had to get on with our lives. We had to continue with work or college. The fear wouldn’t completely go away. But you started each day with the hope that there wouldn’t be any attacks. That there wouldn’t be any lunatics.
This man from yesterday was a lunatic. A criminal. It angers me to read people referring to him as being ‘mentally ill’. I find it offensive to those who are truly battling mental illness. This was a man who obviously thought he was above the law. That he could terrorize women in particular. This was a violent man who has scared my city and my home.
My heart goes out to the families of those hostages who died. I know the fear of potentially having a loved one caught up in something like this but I can’t say I know what it is like to actually have someone you love being held hostage. It must be heartbreaking.
I hope that we as a community can find that solidarity to come together. Yes, there are several questions to be answered. And yes, the reality is that there are possibly other lunatics like him out there.
But we can’t let the fear get to us. That is what they want.
We pick ourselves up and we get stronger.
Hopefully, we find strength in one another to continue to stand up to lunatics like this. Through the sadness, the numbness, the fear and anger, we will face several tomorrows.
Until next time,