By Priti Gloria Lakra in Barcelona
Barcelona: Barcelona and its people, including us, the Daughters of St Paul, will never forget 5 pm on August 17, 2017. It was one of saddest moments in our lives.
That was the time the Spanish city was hit by terror attacks at two different places: Rambla and Cambrils.
A van drove zigzag and ran over people in the Rambla streets to cause maximum damage. The attack killed 13 on the spot and wounded more than a hundred. Four of the dead were Spanish and the rests from other countries. The police rushed to the spot and shot down four terrorists while one escaped.
Utter commotion spread over the city as soon as the news of the attack was reported.
The police immediately ordered closure of every offices and shops. A Sisters of Pious Disciples nun came running to our book center asking us to shut down immediately. And we readily obliged.
Within no time, all roads bore a deserted look.
The police continued to patrol the city with vans and helicopters until late night.
It is true the terror attack paralyzed the people with fear, but not for too long. The humanitarian and large heartedness of the people soon took control of the situation.
Many taxis came out to the streets to offer free services. All taxis rode around the Rambla streets as a sign of solidarity for the victims and offered bouquets of flowers. They also carried the injured to the hospital and stranded people to their homes and hotels. Restaurants and bars offered free food and refreshments. Hotels offered free lodging to tourists.
On the following morning (August 18), nearly 100,000 people gathered to pay respect to the victims and to console the family members of the victims.
Among those present were the King of Spain, president of Spain and many other political leaders. They observed one minute of silence for the victims.
People decorated the spots on the streets where people were killed with lit candles, encouraging messages, and consoling images and symbols. People offered silent prayers and irrespective of their creed and religion.
I have walked on those streets several times, even on August 14 and 15. I went there again on August 19. There was a marked difference between the walks before and after the attack.
On August 19, I saw burning candles on the death spots and sadness on people´s faces. And I was deeply moved to tears.
I also noticed that life has not returned to normality in Barcelona. Tourists are still scared to come out. The incident has affected shops including our book center.
Very few people visited our center for two days after the attack. I hope the situation will soon improve and normal life will return Barcelona.
(Sister Priti Gloria Lakra has been working in Barcelona for the past eight years. Their book center is close to terror attack spots.)