Yesterday, we remembered all those who lost their lives in Mumbai Attacks which took place on 26 November, 2008. Several people lost their lives in the terrorist attacks which took place on multiple locations and it brought not only Mumbai but the whole India to a standstill. Everyone was just shocked at this heinous crime conducted at the behest of terrorists sitting in Pakistan, the whole world saw the ugly picture of terrorism and this time they were affected as well because many foreigners also lost their lives in the Taj Hotel.
Kia Scherr, an American who has lost her husband and her daughter in those Mumbai attacks has written an open letter to the only terrorist who was caught alive, Ajmal Kasab. She has written in this letter that how she has coped up with her loss and she is still living for her husband and daughter but she is not crying for them, in fact she is making the proper use of her life dedicating every moment of her life to her husband and daughter.
Read the open letter and we bet you won’t be able to stop your tears:
In the aftermath of 26/11 I was often asked by the media “What would you say to the terrorist if you could meet him face to face?” I was at a loss for words at the time, but in 2012 after having been working in Mumbai for 2 years, I realized I had a lot to say and wrote this letter to the lone surviving terrorist who has now been executed.
Dear Mr. Kasab,
My name is Kia Scherr and I was the wife and mother of 2 Americans who were killed in the Mumbai terrorist attack of 26/11 2008. They were in the restaurant of the Oberoi Hotel when your team members stormed in shooting everyone in sight. My husband was shot at the back of the head and died instantly. My daughter was shot multiple times and bled to death. She was 13 years old. Given this reality, you may wonder why I have used the term ‘Dear’ in front of your name to address this letter. That is what this letter is about and at the end you will understand.
To begin with – we have some things in common, Mr. Ajmal Kasab. We exist at opposite extremes of this spectrum of life, but yet we are forever connected by the Mumbai terrorist attack that may one day bring us face to face.Life as I knew it ended when my husband and daughter were killed. Just like that, a family is no more, and so a part of me died along with them. I am no longer the wife and mother of Alan and Naomi Scherr. Your life was supposed to end in the Mumbai terrorist attack. Your colleagues were each killed one by one, but you survived. You survived, but life as you knew it, too, has ended. You are no longer the terrorist on jihad as you sit alone each day in your jail cell awaiting your execution. Your identity as a terrorist has been stripped away, as was my identity as wife and mother. But I am still here and with each passing day, more alive than I have ever been.
I feel like the ringing bells from a song by a Canadian folk singer named Leonard Cohen – “Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in.” The Mumbai terrorist attack was more like an earthquake than a crack. But, the bigger the crack, the more light gets in and that is why I am more alive than ever before. This is the light of love – love never dies.
Who do you think you killed? Who died? You may have destroyed many individual lives for which you need to be accountable, but the sacred life that resides in each of us can never be destroyed, no matter how big and powerful your weapon.The light that emerged from the ashes of Mumbai began when I first saw your photograph on the news as the lone surviving terrorist. The words of Jesus Christ came to me in those moments – “Forgive them, they know not what they do.” I felt compassion for the human being I saw on the TV that was so shrouded in darkness that he forgot who he was.
The connection with the sacredness of life had been brutally broken by your teachers in the terrorist training camp. They destroyed any value you may have had for your life and the life of others. How closed your heart had to be to carry out your mission to kill as many people as possible and to not come out alive. But yet, you did come out alive – you alone, out of the 10 terrorists who attacked the city of Mumbai. I wonder… who are you now? Only you can answer that question and someday I would like to hear that answer.
I will share a bit about who I am now – Through the grace and support of other 26/11 survivors and many citizens of Mumbai, including Mr. PRS Oberoi and Mr. Ratan Tata, I am leading an initiative to restore the value of life as sacred in each of us so that honoring the sacredness of this life becomes our highest priority. I refuse to leave the memory of my husband and daughter lying on the floor of that restaurant.
My daughter Naomi told me that she wanted to become a heart surgeon so that she could save lives. In another way, I will fulfill her wish by living more fully from my heart so that I can be more loving and compassionate with everyone I meet. If living with love and compassion becomes our committed focus, who knows how many lives may be uplifted, nourished and even saved – and if we can reach them first, how many young men in your side of the world could be educated to make other choices than joining a terrorist training camp? What would you have to tell these young men about the outcome of such a choice?
Do you realize that you have the power to save lives if you speak the truth? Do you know that the life that empowers you empowers each and every one of us? Do you know that your life essence is as sacred as every form of life on this planet? And do you know that as a response to your destructive actions, people of all religions and cultures are joining together around the world to engage in a new conversation, one that will restore balance, increase peace as we honor our shared humanity?
I am here to tell you about that. Like it or not, we’re all in this together. A Muslim friend told me that your Holy Koran states ‘if you kill one human you kill them all.’And as Martin Luther King, a leader of the American civil rights movement said, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.