Letter from Paris, November 2015 – Esther David

I arrived in Paris from Ahmedabad on Wednesday, instead of Sunday for a family event. Yes, we live in the 11th district of Paris, where the terrorists struck on Friday the 13th. Before the attack, that night I stayed home, but my family, went to a nearby café with their friends to watch the football match between France and Germany on a television set installed there. It’s the done thing, to watch a match over a couple of drinks, chatting, laughing, joking and cheering. Soon, they were back, earlier than expected, saying; ¨Terrorists.¨ Then, while watching the news, we heard gunmen armed with AK47’s had killed several people and were on a rampage in the streets around our house. They were also at the stadium in the North where the match was held and the Bataclan concert hall nearby, where many people were trapped with the gunmen shooting at a young audience happily watching the Rock group Eagles of Death.¨

It was a night of horrors. The next morning, we came to know that a suicide bomber had blown himself up at a café near our house, injuring a waitress, a baker and another client sitting there and having a coffee. The ambulances, helicopters, police vans, military vehicles were all over the city, as numbers of the dead and injured were pouring in, even as some people had not been able to locate their loved ones, much to their anguish.

But, life goes on. That afternoon, some shops were open and most Parisiens were out in the streets to establish a certain amount of normalcy in their lives.

That night, we went to the café, where the shootout had started. People were gathering there in large numbers; to offer flowers, candles and messages. My teenage grandson placed a drawing with three question marks amidst the flowers. The crowd stood there in tears and silence; as a tribute to the innocent people who had laid down their lives for no fault of theirs, as suddenly a long shadow of death had cast a spell of darkness over the City of Light, love and life…

… Part – 2

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