As It Happens

On the 30th anniversary of the Air India bombing, Lata Pada reflects on her daughters' unfulfilled dreams

Lata Pada's husband, Vishnu, and her daughters, Arti and Brinda, died when Air India Flight 182 was bombed out of the sky. Today, her girls would have been women in their 40s, perhaps with children and careers.
Lata Pada channelled her grief over the deaths of her husband and two daughters into a multimedia dance performance piece called "Revealed By Fire." (Photo: CBC TV)

Thirty years ago today, Air India Flight 182 was blown out of the sky by terrorists. The debris was scattered in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Ireland. All 329 people on board were killed.

Lata Pada's husband Vishnu and her daughters, Arti and Brinda, were among the dead. Today, Pada can't help but think about who her girls could have become.

"Who knows where they might have been," she tells As It Happens host Carol Off. "Brinda would be 48 and Arti would be 45."

Pada is still in touch with her daughters' friends.

"They've all grown up and gotten married and have children. And they're very much a part of my life and that's the greatest blessing that I have."

A member of the RCMP looks over wreckage of Air India Flight 182 as it sits on display in an undisclosed location in Vancouver, British Columbia June 15, 2004. (Photo: REUTERS/Andy Clark) (REUTERS)

After the attack, Pada became an advocate for the families of the victims. And she immersed herself in her work -- dance.

Nearly 15 years after the bombing, she created an autobiographical show about her grief combining music, classical Indian dance, video and archival sound called "Revealed By Fire." She spoke to As It Happens in 2002 about the show and how the loss of her family changed her:

Lata Pada's autobiographical performance "Revealed By Fire" expressed her grief over the death of her family in the Air India bombing. 9:23

"My life centred around my family. When all that is stripped away from you, then you do question," she tells Carol today. "Who are you? What role does destiny play in your life? What were those beautiful years that I spent with them? What did that all mean?"

Pada says that, like Anant Anantaraman, who spoke to As It Happens last night about losing his family on Air India Flight 182, she has now found peace. And so have many of the other families she's stayed in touch with.

"It's a sense of destiny or karma that allows us to find that peace and acceptance," she says. "To know that perhaps the reason that you're here and you weren't on that flight is there were some unfulfilled obligations, unfulfilled contributions to society that you could make."

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