Kolkata:While umpiring in the Saurashtra-Bengal Ranji Trophy match on Thursday, Sameer Bandekar was not his usual self as he came to field with the haunted memories of last year's terror attack in which he lost his close friend -- encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar.
The Mumbaikar lives in a locality on Charni Road near Churchgate which is about 3 km from the Taj, one of the terror sites of 26/11 where his friend Salaskar was killed while fighting terrorists on that day.
The 45-year-old was travelling in a Mumbai-bound train after officiating in the Gujarat-Delhi Ranji Trophy match in Valsad from November 22-26 last year and a co-passenger told him about the incident.
"I got panicked...my house was just 10 minutes away. My two daughters, wife and old mother were at home. I heard different versions about in train, so I was desperate to contact them," Bandekar told PTI.
"It took sometime to reach my family (on phone). They too were very restless and after establishing a contact, I could breathe a sigh of relief."
His saddest moment came the next morning when he came to know that his friend Salaskar became a martyr of the 26/11.
"I knew him closely and I shuddered after hearing the news, it was like losing somebody in the family."
The train Bandekar was travelling in, reached the Mumbai Central about 11.30 pm and he had called his cousin to receive him.
"We all (in the train) were frightened to the core. With operation in full swing to tackle the terrorists, my cousin had come in his motorcycle to pick me up. The entire station, street was deserted, Mumbai looked very different that midnight.
"I finally reached my home safe. Everybody was relieved.
The next three days, we had to remain confined to our home. I still get nightmares about 26/11."
Bandekar later paid his homage to his friend Salaskar's family and visited the martyr's widow.
"The fear factor will remain forever but the incident has united the Mumbaikars. We pray that there is never again an incident such as this happen anywhere," Bandekar signed off.
Bandekar incidentally is umpiring in his 50th first-class match here at Eden Gardens.