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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Book by ‘Mumbai 25’ opens new chapter: forgiveness and love

Central theme of the book remains individual response to situation (26/11 attack),and forgiveness.

Written by Kavitha Iyer | Mumbai |
November 21, 2011 2:36:00 am

They were the ‘Mumbai 25’,a spiritual guru from Virginia,USA,and 24 disciples trapped in Hotel Oberoi on the night of November 26,2008 when it was attacked by Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists. While a father-daughter duo from the group were killed that night,19 survivors have now recounted in a book how,and why,they forgive the perpetrators of the carnage.

Forgiving The Unforgivable by Master Charles Cannon,founder of Synchronicity Foundation,is a book about meditation,multi-dimensional consciousness and miracles,but written against the backdrop of the 40-odd hours that the ‘Mumbai 25’ spent waiting to be rescued,breathing through wet towels in smoke-filled rooms and hiding under restaurant tables as the two gunmen opened fire.

The book quotes Rumi and Ramana Maharishi,Einstein and Socrates,among others. There are accounts of memories of waking up in cold fear many months later,reports of premonition that many of the survivors had before the attack and a gripping re-telling of where each one was when the shooting began,including by two who sustained bullet wounds in the Tiffin restaurant. But the central theme remains individual response to the situation,and forgiveness.

Linda Ronsdale,an artiste who went on to start a ‘Peace Dragon’ art project,remembers watching from under a table,playing dead,and thinking that the young man with a machine gun was about the same age as her son.

Kia Scherr,whose husband Alan and daughter Naomi died in the attack at Tiffin,says she fully supports legal processes of bringing justice to the victims,but adds that in her heart she has found freedom in forgiveness. She recounts in the book her return to the hotel in 2010 and her decision to spend December 31 at the same table where Alan and Naomi spent their last moments. “..I began to weep. Waiters hurried over to me. I put my hands together in prayer and choked out,‘I need to sit at this table,this one,right here’,they understood. They knew.”

Scherr says in the book that she wants to send terrorists her love,forgiveness and compassion. “Life as I knew it was over,my heart was shattered,there was nothing left. At the same time,I felt only compassion for those who were so separated from humanity that they could kill ruthlessly,” she says.

One account is by 90-year-old Joe,who was having dinner with eight to 10 others from the group at Tiffin when the shooting started. Friends,alerted by the first bang of gunfire,had just managed to get him into his walker and,as the elevator doors closed,two men in black opened fire.

“Terrorists… We send our people over to Iraq and Afghanistan… We’re convinced we’re doing the right thing. People over there don’t see it that way. Most of them see us as intruders trying to take away their lifestyles,” he says. He goes on to say he hoped the commandos got the terrorists. “But to want revenge,to hate those terrorists. Well,that would be going along with their whole belief system.”

Another survivor,Larry,calls the gunmen “just kids” brainwashed to do what they thought was right. “Hate simply begets hate and seeking revenge is absolutely not the answer,” he says. In fact,multiple accounts see the terrorists as victims of poverty,with more than one survivor believing that the boys were sold by their parents “to buy dowries for their daughters”.

Without condoning the terrorists’ actions,a woman named Bonnie says,“Punishing the terrorists? Well,haven’t we proven pretty conclusively that more fear,hate and war doesn’t change anything? When are we going to try something else?”

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