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'I took this phone out of a dead body's pocket, who's speaking?'

December 1, 2008
Text: A Ganesh Nadar

Chand Pasha has been working in Leopold Cafe since 1989. He and his younger brother worked at the popular cafe for 19 years. While Chand took a break to work in Dubai for a while, his younger brother Pir worked here continuously.

Chand sat outside his house in Mahim, north-central Mumbai, and related the shocking and unexpected events of the night of November 26.

"We were working. As it was my dinner time I went in to eat. I was eating in the kitchen at 9.30 pm when I heard the shots. I thought it was a short circuit and there was a fire. People came running in screaming 'gun shots.'

"I stayed inside. After 45 minutes we came out when we heard the police sirens and the sounds of ambulance sirens. By then, the police had removed the dead bodies, and shifted the injured, to hospital."

"I could not see my brother anywhere. I thought that he must have run away and searched all the lanes in Colaba. I kept calling his mobile phone. He was not picking up. But I kept calling him."

"Suddenly the call went through. I was elated at first and then shocked to hear someone else, 'I am at the St George's hospital. I took the phone out of this dead body's pocket, who is speaking?'"

"My world crumbled as I took a taxi to the hospital. He was dead and so was another waiter. That waiter was young and had just joined, his name was Kazi. One more waiter was seriously injured I was told."

"I heard that my Cafe Leopold started functioning today. I will go after four days. Where else would I go? It's the only place I know and like to work. I am going to work there only. And future security arrangements I will leave it to my boss. He will do something."

"My boss did not come here but he sent the manager and cashier here. They told me that they would provide any help we required. A few of the staff also came. My boss spoke to me on the phone. He said, "'Don't worry about anything I will take care of everything.'"

"They have promised financial help to my brother's family, we will know the amount when they give it. We did not ask. My brother has an insurance policy. I haven't looked at it yet. I will do so when I get the death certificate from the municipal corporation. They said that it will take ten days. The death certificate that the hospital gave was taken by the graveyard officials, they gave me the photocopies instead."

Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar

Also see: The the tears came welling down

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