Hounded by visions of death, bartender quit job at Taj

Hounded by visions of death, bartender quit job at Taj

"The thought of getting killed would never go away. I always felt death lurking in the shadows. I escaped death at the hands of the terrorists, but the constant thought of getting killed was driving me to death," says Lalit Sawant.
Barely a few days after the attacks, Sawant quit the job.
"My parents feared for me when I was there at the Taj during the siege. They called me on my mobile often to enquire about me and I told them I'm safe. But deep inside I was crying to be rescued," Sawant said.
The ex-Taj employee was handling the liquor department in the Banquet Hall for three-and-half years before the backpacking terror peddlers let loose an orgy of violence that scarred his mind.
Sawant is now a supervisor at an Event Management company in suburban Bandra.
"There were those silent tears of joy in their eyes when they saw me alive. The first thing my family told me was to quit the job and they would not take no for an answer as they did not want to lose me," Sawant said.
The man would wake up in cold sweat almost every night for over two months, shaken out of slumber by nightmarish images of the ghastly terror attacks that unfolded right in front of his eyes.

"I took a break for two months. I would lock myself up in a room for days on end, shutting the door to the world outside. Images of bullet-riddled bodies, blood and shattered glass ran before my eyes like a movie," said Sawant.
To get over these disturbing emotions, I even tried to immerse myself in little things like helping my mother in the kitchen and playing with small children, he said.

Recounting events of the horrifying night, Sawant said, "There was a wedding reception going on and I was serving liquor to guests. Soon after we heard quick rattling sounds, something like bursting of firecrackers. Soon our manager came running and announced that terrorists had struck and asked us to shift the guests to safety."

While Sawant was helping the guests to get into a room, he saw two terrorists with huge bags on their back advance towards them menacingly branding Kalashnikovs.
"The terrorists began firing indiscriminately and we scrambled to take cover under the tables and behind pillars."
"After the terrorists ran upstairs, we all went into a room and locked ourselves up. All the time there was the rat-a-tat of gunfire with occasional boom of grenades. The night passed with prayers on lips and those were answered when NSG commandoes rescued us early next morning," he said.
The recurrent thoughts of death do not haunt Sawant any more, but memories of those seemingly endless seven hours he spent amidst death and destruction, will forever stay with him.

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