I gained consciousness as a bright ray of sunlight stung my eyes: coming from the curtain slightly drifting aside as it swayed due to gust of wind entering my room through an opened window followed by wild chirping of birds. Here I was with my head sunk in my feathery pillow and my body rolled up in my warm quilt. ”What a pleasant day!” I remarked to myself then stepped out of the comfort of my bed and started getting ready for school.
I stuffed the bread in my mouth and gulped the glass of milk hurriedly as the horn of the school bus sounded. In a rush, I grabbed my bag and hanged it on my shoulder. Before departing the door, my mother said a little prayer, kissed me goodbye and said “I will make your favourite cheese pizza for you today so don’t eat out with friends.” Upon hearing this, I excitedly punched in the air while entering the school bus. I couldn’t find a decent seat anywhere, the only unoccupied seats were at the back, where I would had to experience a bumpy ride. Angrily hissing, I began to complain under my breath, which the bus conductor overheard. He smiled and in an attempt to make me happy promised to save a front seat for me tomorrow.
I decided to look out of the window in a hope to distract myself from the clatter of the bus. Several fields, buildings, and trees were left behind as the bus sped on. The graveyard came into sight, Almost everyday I used to look at the front most grave, it was of a boy who died at the age of 17 in a car accident. I used to think how early he had returned to God. There was so much more for him to see and experience in this world. While I was feeling pity for him, the familiar green board appeared and I muttered what it read “Army public school and college”. The bus came to a halt with a jolt, accompanied by pushes of the boys; trying to make their way through the crowded bus and be the first one to step out. It was part of my daily routine, I was in no such hurry. Therefore, was the last one to leave the vehicle.
Upon entering the school premises my best friend, Ahmad waved at me, I strode towards him and extended my hand for a salam which was instantaneously turned into a mighty hug from his side. I hugged back and enquired “When will you give me the new Biology notes that you recently got hold of? Don’t you remember its our test tomorrow?” He replied “I have given them to the photocopier, pick them from him in the evening.” After gossiping for a while we both headed for our class.
I settled down on my seat and waited for my roll to be called for the day 16 December, 2014 “Harris?” my sir called. “Present” I replied (present…) Classes went by, time passed with only one more to go. My stomach was rumbling, I glanced at the clock to see how much time has been left until I could go home and devour the pizza, my mother would have made out of love. Saad was reading the English lesson aloud “The girl was carrying her purse and goin..” Suddenly out of nowhere muffled thump thump noise began to interrupt our lesson. “Carry on, it’s just some construction work going on, I presume” Our madam instructed. Our class nodded in agreement doubtfully. Saad continued reading “Going on a walk to…” Thak Thaaak Thaaa It was the sound of clear gunshots, even though nobody said a word but the fear on everyone’s faces clearly depicted the delicacy of the situation.
We all began to panic. I stood there motionless, as if my feet were glued to the ground. Mouth agape, eyes popped- with fear and a myriads of hazy questions hit me at once knocking me clean out to the ground. Our madam’s face wrinkled with worry and she immediately advanced towards the door and started fumbling with the lock with her quivery hands until it was secure. She directed us to stack all the tables and chairs and hide behind them. With our trembling legs and sweaty palms we began to drag the furniture into two rows, forming a sort of shield we believed could protect us but in fact stationary wooden furniture against a fast metal bullet? No chance but we all ducked behind it because this was the most we could do. The gunshots became louder and louder as the terrorists proceeded to get near to us. We were trying not to make a noise so that we would go unnoticed but still I could hear the involuntary, shaky, short breaths of everyone along with my own. We compactly packed ourselves; getting closer to each other in a hope to feel safe in each other’s warmth of company. The fear kills you more times than death, which only comes once and wipes everything in a matter of few seconds but there we were with the death haunting us with time, which seemed like wouldn’t pass. My brain was functioning rapidly, I realized I didn’t want to die so early. So many desires of mine and my parents’, associated with me were yet to be fulfilled. I had to get married, have kids and watch them grow then marry them off and have little grandchildren to play with then die warm in my bed with my loved ones surrounding me. Not this way! Not in this biting cold! Not in this fear! Not when I wasn’t ready! Not at the hands of these terrorists! Nooooooo! I screamed at the top of my voice inside my head to overpower my thoughts that were driving me crazy.
The heavy footsteps advanced towards my classroom. We all were horrified and began to cry out loud uncontrollably. The door began to bang, someone was breaking it. The door, as weak and helpless as we were, was about to kneel down until our teacher stood in front of it, supporting it. Then I heard a gun shot and our madam collapsed on the ground, the bullet poked a hole in the door and ripped through her body sending jets of dark red, steaming blood from her wound, she was trembling with pain. The door sprang open dragging her aside and in marched the death angel (or death devil I should call), leaving a trail of bloody footprints behind; suited in a shalwar kameez which once was plain, peach coloured but now printed with splatters of red blood. He raised the gun at our madam’s head and pulled the trigger, a fountain of blood flowed from her neck. The class broke into screams and shrieks and cries and tears but his eyes were blinded by a veil of revenge beyond which he couldn’t see the innocent children pleading for mercy, pleading for an escape, pleading for life… We were helpless in front of the man standing before us with a gun in his hand telling us to recite kalma and the very next moment opened fire at my mates hiding behind the first row, as I used to with my rifle while playing GTA. It was so much fun there but not now- not in real life- not as a victim. The blood sprayed and splattered on the walls, the floor, the furniture, on everyone and everywhere… Next was our turn. The adrenaline was thumping inside my blood. The time expanded into gaping black hole as if prolonging our pain. There was a volcanoe of anger inside me after witnessing their barbaric act, it erupted and I stood up screaming and throwing the table at them that I was able to get hold of. The table was still in mid air when I heard several reports of rifle and felt hard blows on my body, my mind went completely numb, I felt senseless and unaware of my surrounding. My ears were deafened temporarily and I heard nothing but a faint teee sound. There was a blackout for a moment and the very next moment I saw the table hit him square in his face followed by excruciating cutting and burning sensation in my body. The blood flowed from my wounds as a dark, red, hot liquid and immediately thickened forming a sticky puddle around me. I felt dizzy, my sight wasn’t able to keep pace with my surroundings. I looked around but my vision was blurred, I could make out several of my friends bathed in blood. There was a BLOOD FRENZY!
I hadn’t even achieved my aim yet. I wanted to follow my father’s footsteps and be an army officer to kill terrorists- like them. In distance, I could hear more gunshots chased by the screams of my school mates as the cold blooded murderers proceeded to kill. I was dying, we were dying- dying to serve as a warning, dying for revenge, dying for terrorism- in fact dying for nothing… I wanted to sacrifice my life for a cause- a good cause, to be a symbol of bravery- not fear. Instead of confronting them while serving my country, I faced them when i was still young, unprepared, untrained and bare handed. I was assuring myself that it’s alright, it’s still a martyrs death, just a little earlier than anticipated. My family will understand. It’s okay.
I began to think with the little energy I was left with. My slice of pizza will remain untouched. The seat bus conductor would have saved for me will remain empty. The photocopier will keep on waiting for my arrival but my notes will remain unclaimed.
It was hurtful to think about my future plans which won’t be set to completion and it was painful to be in present so I fled to my past to find peace. Fragments of several memories flooded my brain forming a sort of a chain. The memory of my visit to the beach along with my family replenished. My parents were smiling brightly as the sun, I heard my and my sister’s laughter while playing tag game. She caught me and I was asking her to let go off me to which she replied ‘I’ll never let go off you’. Yes, you didn’t sister but I am going away forever. The sun was gradually disappearing in the horizon, it was beautiful and at last it vanished completely. – Blackout
I gained consciousness as a bright ray of sunlight kissed my eyes. All the pain was gone, the wound was healed. I felt light like the burden on my heart has been lifted. “Where am I?” I enquired. A voice replied ”In a better place.”