Today I Was Knocked To The Ground In A Stampede

I’m physically OK but shaken.  I went to pick up the girls at school, their last day, day of results/report cards.  All the parents were herded into the area just inside the gates, but locked from the school itself.  The guards told us all to wait there, hundreds of us.  Gibi was with me, and we held hands trying not to be separated.  Then students started coming out, not by class order, some seemingly led by guardians, running as though through a gauntlet.  Then more students came running out and all of us tried to get to where they were before the students ran out into the street.  I got shoved into the fringe of the stampeding students and then was shoved to the ground.  It was surreal.  I keep re-living it in my mind, spinning, wondering what would happen to me as I watched students above me screaming and trying not to step on me.  Some women on the sidelines were able to pull me out and up.

I moved then towards the street, looking for my girls but also knowing I would not see them in a stampede.  They would be at the back, waiting for the others to pass.  I got out my camera that I’d brought to take a picture of our smiling girls on last day of school.  I held it up and snapped picture after picture.  Then I got the video going and held up the camera as literally hundreds of girls poured out, no school administrator in sight…

As the crowd slowed I saw one of the girls and then Gibi and the others.  Gibi looked disheveled.  She also had been knocked to the ground.  I’ve never heard or seen such a thing at a school in Kolkata and I’ve been involved in schools for 11 years now.  I have much more to write about this school.  I’ve held off until the girls were out of school and we won’t be sending them back there.  Yes, they have all been promoted.

All that happened at noon.  Now it is 3:30 pm.  I’ve cancelled classes here and I’m taking the girls to the mall for ice cream.  We are celebrating the end of this era at United Missionary Girls High School!  I needed to write this post first.  I’ll wrote more later.  I have more to write about this school 

Off the the mall, back later.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. indiamommy
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 00:35:11

    God Michelle, so sorry you went through that. Gotta be careful. The closest I ever came to what you described was during Diwali. I took the kids to the dandiya ras. I am a pretty good dancer, but not when it compares to the young teens. I was in a circle dance at one point and we were going back and forth, circle still going to the right. One big young adult man got into the circle right next to me. When I turned to go left, that is where he entered the circle, and he was going right. He hit me with his body and I fell to the floor, and everyone was dancing either by jumping over me or going around me. I couldn’t get up because of that. God forbid one dance stop for a gori on the floor!
    Hope you will be okay!

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  2. Arun Debnath
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 00:45:46

    Durga [Goddess] Michelle, horrified to hear the horror story and I was desperately hoping [until I got the end of the story] that you or the girls were not hurt. To my relief and thanks God, you’re all okay !.

    Love and seasonal greetings to all of you.

    Arun Debnath in sunny and cold London

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  3. Dr. Michelle Harrison
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 15:15:02

    Thanks for your comments and well-wishes. As for sunny and cold London, Kolkata is expecting the coldest December in 20 years! But our house is good, and we even have a heater, and many blankets and sweaters. We live well for Kolkata.

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