The Indian Express on Thursday launched 26/11 Stories of Strength, a book that chronicles the lives of 10 families impacted by the 2008 terror attacks and their journey in the last decade. Ten personal accounts of survivors and families overcoming grief and anger come together in 26/11 Stories of Strength, published by Penguin Random House and presented by Facebook.
The stories of these families — from Kia Scherr who lost her family but chose to forgive the perpetrators, to the parents of National Security Guard’s Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan who set up a trust in his memory, to the hilly village of Tukaram Omble that remembers its hero — speak of courage and forgiveness.
“They have forgiven but not forgotten the attack,” said playwright and film director Feroz Abbas Khan, who attended the book launch in Bandra’s Title Waves bookstore. Khan said there was fear in the Muslim community of a possible reaction to the attack in 2008. “But when we gathered at the Gateway of India, everyone was together.” The event, hosted by Literature Live, was moderated by writer Anil Dharker.
Anant Goenka, Executive Director of the Indian Express Group, said, “People who have lost their loved ones in these attacks have taken control of their lives. They overcame challenges in their own way. These stories speak about forgiveness, compromise, and challenges the families dealt with.”
Kavitha Iyer, the editor of 26/11 Stories of Strength and Associate Editor with The Indian Express, said that over 80 families who lost their loved ones or were injured have been interviewed following the attacks. Speaking about Major Unnikrishnan and assistant police sub-inspector Tukaram Omble, she said, “Their families were not surprised at the heroism they showed. More than the heroes, the book is also about common people who were brought in this tough situation where they lost a loved one. Moving on is the only answer to violence.”
Kia Scherr, who founded One Life Alliance after losing her husband and daughter in the 2008 attacks, wrote a letter forgiving the lone surviving terrorist Ajmal Kasab in the hope that he would understand her loss and discourage others from becoming terrorists. “The process of forgiveness is an ongoing process to survive, thrive and love life,” she said, adding, “I died when they died in Mumbai. And I found hope to live again in this city”.
Savitri Gupta, who lost her husband at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, narrated her journey of joining the Railways after her husband’s death and how she pursued higher education to get better job opportunities.