Impressions off the back-cover:
It is a non-fiction book. What it says is what I should get. A recollection of memories, albeit some that aren’t memorable for the entire country, let alone me, or maybe even the author. For once, I think I cannot have expectations on the book, for no one can expect anything from reality. If anything life has taught me so far, sometimes even life as we live it can seem incredible.
My thoughts on the book:
When I first read the excerpt from the book 14 Hours: An Insider’s Account of the 26/11 Taj Attack, I hesitated, but only for a moment, before taking up the opportunity to read and review it. Like I said, the attack being etched into the hearts of the entire nation, I wondered if it would be worth it living it all over again.
I remember a dialogue from the Castle series that was something like, “When something like that happens, it is etched into the heart. I cannot forget it even if I want to”. I don’t remember the exact dialogue, but as a poet and writer, I can understand the sentiment that when something untoward or bad happens in our life, one of the best ways is to express it. It becomes a tear that must come out, lest it burden the eyes with its stay. When you witness death, it changes you, especially if it was at a place where, and at a time when it’d be the one thing you never expect. So witnessing a murder would be something else. Ankur Chawla was inside the Taj when the events of 26/11 unfolded, and he saw a terrorist shoot a guy, and the guy crumple down. Through his words, I could see that in slow motion, and it wasn’t something I liked imagining. His book introduces in vivid detail – the Taj and its restaurants, his friends, and his family, how he came to be at the Taj, and how events unfolded on that fateful day.
It’s always important not to panic in any situation that’s not going your way, and keep calm. Some of the staff trying their best not to let their fear out, so others will not panic either, and showing their clout with trying to crack jokes even in that situation, these little things did matter. Ankur Chawla brings all these little things out through his narration, and not to mention the worry, the mentality to handle such an impossible situation, the emotions they went through and possibly still are going through. This is a book with life and death in it, even coincidence, or a strange sense of dejavu or fate. We praise all the rescue operation soldiers who fought the terrorists on 26/11 and after to end the three day hell for the nation. After this book, I think there are many more heroes who we don’t know of.
It’s hard to bring memories etched on one’s heart on to paper; the hardest memories are the toughest to write. Whatever happened that day, and that what we knew of, that moved us beyond anything else. This is the inside story, from the eyes and recollections of one who was there. It is said as it needs to, the tone is there, yet it isn’t all seriousness, with that touches of life’s humor given here and there. A book that is a tribute to the heroes of 26/11, both seen and unseen; 14 hours is a good read, but fair warning, if you have a strong imagination, or still, like many of us, cannot live that night all over again, this might not suit your reading preference.
Title: 14 Hours – An Insider’s Account of the 26/11 Taj Attacks
Author: Ankur Chawla
Genre: Non Fiction
Price: INR 195
(’12, Dec 08)