26/11: Why this family must not mourn alone today

Today, the Ansari family in Bihar’s Dhaab village will hold a fatiha, a prayer ceremony, to mourn six family members who died in the 26/11 terror attack at Mumbai’s CST station.

Five years on, the story of the Ansari family shows that even as they try to move on from the numbing tragedy, the greatest horror is borne by those left behind, reports‘s Archana Masih from Dhaab.

In the Other India where the Ansari family lives, the road leading to Shakila Khatoon’s hut is just a dirt track, making it possible for only tractors, motorcycles and cycles to slowly and bumpily make their way.

The best way to reach her home is on foot, down a narrow path past huts, cows, goats and hens. Her mud-paved house with a broken roof is at the edge of the village. A Quranic verse in Arabic, written on glittering paper, hangs above the door.

Shakila doesn’t know what the verse says because she cannot read and never did go to school.

She sits in a plastic chair in the small courtyard, surrounded by family members and neighbours, cursing her fate. “Let Allah not make anyone as unfortunate as me,” she says in a mix of Hindi and Urdu, Us din toh qayamat aa gayi (it was the day of annihilation).

Shakila’s husband Ilyas, along with five other family members, was killed in the November 26 terror attacks. The Ansari family, hailing from Dhaab village on the Bihar-Jharkhand border, lost five men and one woman within a few seconds in the mayhem at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.

Six members of the family lay dead as they waited for a train to go home. Two others were seriously wounded by bullets fired by Ajmal Kasab and Abu Ismail that horrific night five years ago.

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