14 May, 2021

From The Scrivener Of Tempests

Bullet-riddled, grief-mad, dying and dead: Anita Pratap has seen people in all possible calamities and lived to tell the tales

From The Scrivener Of Tempests

Some of the worst scenes I have witnessed in my life were during the eight years I reported for Time magazine. Scenes that are still etched sharply in my mind, refusing to fade away over the years. I have tried my best to forget them, but they pop up, often in tota­lly unrelated contexts that startle me. Recently, I saw a kite trapped on overhead electric cables. I was instantly reminded of the LTTE suicide bomber who killed Sri Lanka’s presidential candidate Gamini Dissanayake during the election campaign. The blast was so powerful her head was flung in the air and hung from the electric wires nearby. This happened 21 years ago.

While covering the Latur earthquake in Maharashtra, I saw 10,000 dead bodies in a field. I was sure one man who lay at the bottom of a heap was alive. He was staring at me. I rushed towards him, but when I got really close, I nearly vomited; maggots were wriggling out of his open, yellow eyes. Sometimes, the sounds are as haunting as the sights. I can hear the last mumblings of the dying victim I saw in Kashmir as if I heard it...

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