November 26. The day was never far from the mind as Indians across the country and the world mourned the 166 dead in India’s most wounding terror strike that had left behind scars perhaps never to be healed.
In the national capital New Delhi, parliament began with two minutes silence and a resolution in the Lok Sabha to wage a united war against terror. In Kanpur, the cricket Test between India and Sri Lanka began with a similar homage. Tributes to the brave who died - and those who survived - were planned in many cities with citizens collecting at designated places.
And all thoughts were with Mumbai, India’s thriving commercial capital that was ravaged by terrorists who came by boats from Pakistan on the night of Nov 26 to begin a bloody siege that ended only on the afternoon of Nov 28.
"The house salutes the indomitable courage of the security forces who gave a crushing blow to the terrorists on Nov 26, 2008, and fortitude of the people of Mumbai. On this day the house resolved to unitedly fight and defeat the forces of terrorism and never again allow them to spill the blood of innocent people," Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said.
And while Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and his cabinet colleagues visited the precincts of the Hotel Trident-Oberoi at Nariman Point, people gathered outside the Leopold Cafe in Colaba - where the first attack was launched.
"We shall leave no stone unturned to protect Mumbai and its citizens," said Chavan as everyone -- from the celeb to the ordinary person -- relived the trauma.
Said Bollywood star Aamir Khan: "It was a very tragic event, but good thing that happened was that the tragedy brought the people of Mumbai together and closer."
Domestic worker Suvarna Kamble agreed with him when she said: "I came to Mumbai only three months before the terror attacks, but I was amazed by the sheer grit of the city. A year later, I feel safer and more confident of living in this big city." The 1.5 km wall at Marine Drive was full of messages at 5 p.m. and thousands more came to read them.
In Hyderabad, Noorjahan Begum, who lost her 22-year-old daughter Amina at the CST and whose husband Rashid was seriously injured, is still angry. The wounds are still wide open for the family, which was about to board a train to Hyderabad after visiting the famous Haji Ali dargah in Mumbai when terrorists struck.
"He was the only source of livelihood for the family. Now he can’t go out of the house and is completely bed-ridden," said Noorjahan of her auto-driver husband who sustained three bullet injuries.
For the makers of the Hindi comedy "De Dana Dan" being released Friday, it was a bizarre coincidence. The film had started on 26/11 last year and was being released a day after the anniversary.
Akshay Kumar, whose wife Twinkle was at the Taj when the terrorists stormed in, remembered the indomitable spirit that let them go on and how director Priyadarshan insisted on continuing the work "with full strength" to defy the terrorists.
"They wanted to stop us. And now the film is coming, one year and a day after the incident."
Remember but move on undeterred, the "De Dana Dan" story may epitomise the spirit in which India observed the 26/11 anniversary.