It was 10.30 pm on November 26, and Nirmala, along with hundreds of others, was waiting for her train at the Chhattrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai.
Nirmala, 31, could hardly contain her excitement before her journey to Chennai, where she was to get married to Shankar Narayanan on November 30. She was accompanied by her mother, two brothers and sister-in-law. Her father had already reached Chennai to oversee the wedding arrangements.
Suddenly, Nirmala heard what sounded like firecrackers bursting around her. She felt something hit her head. Bleeding profusely, she fell on the platform floor.
"I didn't realise that I had been shot till I saw the blood oozing out. My elder brother pulled me towards him and pushed me flat to the ground. I couldn't understand what was happening to me or around me. Everything was so hazy. I did not feel any pain. I am alive today because of my brother Ponnuraj. He is my hero. Of course, God was there with me," says Nirmala.
Her sister-in-law was caught in the rush of panic-stricken people fleeing from the terrorists, and she was pushed out of the terminus.
When the firing and chaos finally ended, Nirmala recalls seeing blood and bodies all around her. The porters helped Ponnuraj put Nirmala on a hand cart, and she was taken to the municipal hospital. She was taken to the JJ Hospital from there, where she was given first aid and discharged.
Image: Nirmala at her Chennai home. Text: Shobha Warrier | Images: Sreeram Selvaraj
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