We have to get out of this alive. I looked over to my sister standing knee deep in the debris and holding on to a palm tree trunk- holding onto dear life.
I tried to keep talking to her amidst the rumble the sea was creating, almost as if it didn’t want any voice rising above its own. Half the town was being swept in front of our eyes and it was a sight that made your heart sink. The grumbling was deafening. Cars and entire houses were being swept away as if they were made of paper. That day the sea was the monster devouring everything that came into its path.
Debris laden water was rushing in, flooding the coastal town. Clouds of muddy sludge started filling the clear blue water of the pool and for a moment, I forgot I was struggling to keep myself from being swept away. Wooden planks and metal objects kept banging against my leg under the sheer force of water. But for a moment I watched that dark slurry invade the pool, like a sandstorm inside water. It moved as if a spell was cast on it, as if it was a monster feeding on that clear water. I couldn’t blink for it was such an incredible sight. At a moment like that, when destruction was all around me I was captivated by the image in front of me and you may call me crazy. But I forgot my fear. When you are staring at death, you struggle to seek that moment when you can ignore the horror of it. If I was supposed to die today, what would I not give to not feel the desperation that precedes it.
When that moment ended, I realised we had to get out of this alive. I turned towards Mahi who seemed exhausted and was drowsy.
‘Hey! Hey! Hold on, okay? Stay awake. We will get out of this. I promise you we will. This is not how we die, okay?’
Changed the course that we were set on.
The still waters we were knee deep in already,
Rose above our heads,
And we are struggling,
Gasping for breath,
Feeling it gather in a whirlpool around us,
Taking with it those we know,
Those we hold dear.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t expect anyplace to be safe.
We are not resisting outfits,
We are up against our men,
Like in every war.
Trying to keep my head out of these waters,
Trying to breathe,
And all I can take in gulps,
Is my fear of places,
Crowded, empty spaces.
Look how the table turns,
For it made me wonder:
If we would say,
“He was dressed inappropriately”
“He provoked it”
When it is a man,
But the fatal shame,
And the onus of blame,
Shifts so easily onto a woman.
Almost as if,
She perpetrated a henious assault,
On the weak male sensibility.
By baring perhaps, too much of her faith in a wicked world,
Born in a body she cannot do anything about.
Born in a world,
That thrives on billboards,
Vying to catch your eye- short skirts, pretty faces,
To sell anything,
From cars to horror stories.
Born in a world, where you take her to parties,
And politely excuse yourself to talk about politics.
Born in a world so obsessed with gratification forgone,
That a woman,
Must have asked for it.
the eleventh of september.
Tell me the pictures on your mantlepieces,
still remind you of your life before it,
and that the air,
lingers around with a sense of loss.
Tell them you took those bloody bodies right across to your heart where they cannot find them,
tell them that the ones who said
I’ll be back soon tonight
you still wait for them in the dreariness of this night.
And numbers made it to the news the next day.
and the ghosts, shall forever haunt everyone else.
the26th of November,
when we watched,
in the comforts of our homes,
what an fanatic idea had done to us.
And one walked between the little spaces left between fallen bodies,
and one walked with candles in his hands,
and one walks to a stone engraved,
and lays flowers that were still fresh,
and spread their fragrance,
over the 13th of November.
all the days of the calender,
when someone feeds on the fear in the other’s eyes,
it is an act of terror.
that this war,
of us against them,
of hope against despair,
as music spreads and envelops you over,
it will spread like a forest on fire,
and we must then,
not to the flames surrender,
but rise from beneath the ashes like a phoenix.
And that is why this time,
let us not make it just a gesture,
the thirteenth of November.
I heard footsteps in my room.
Someone stood for a moment right beside the bed. That person hurriedly moved towards the bathroom to ensure there was no one hiding and shouted something in a language I had no knowledge of.
He ran outside, and they ambushed someone in the very next room.
I felt suffocated as the smell of gunpowder reached me.
Outside, sirens blared on patrol cars.
The assailants must’ve spent about five minutes in the other room.
There were two of them, talking to one another.
And then, there was silence after the last footsteps down the corridor had died down. I slid the door of my closet.
Even with all the commotion around, the cacophony dropped dead as I tried hard to strain my senses as to find out if they had really left.
Cautiously, I stepped outside and stood for a second. On tip toes, I moved towards the door.
I stood holding it, moving just my head to peek outside. To my right, I saw the couple lying in a pool of blood, still holding hands. I headed left, and reached the room of the next door. I could take deep breaths now. But for reasons beyond my comprehension, I still was breathing scantily between the gulps of air I took in to hold. I was no longer in the closet. I will never know why I did that.
Another explosion. It rocked the hotel as if there was an earthquake. I clung to the wall. My legs felt funny. They were failing to hold me up.
I heard voices, coming from the end of the corridor where the terrorists had moved to. And footsteps. This really, was the end of my life. I gathered all my strength and focused it all on my feet.
But they gave in. I fell headfirst on the creaky wooden floor, but not before catching a glimpse of armoured officers rushing towards me.
I was standing at one of the windows, watching the parade that day from the third floor.
Suddenly, amidst the noise, three explosions down the length of the road had me falling down on my knees and covering my ears. I looked up and saw people running, flesh strewn about the road and the some of the exhibitions had caught fire. There was just too much to grasp. I was in a panic, sitting there, staring immobilised.
And it was then that I saw,
A pick up van arrive and its tyres screeched as it pulled to a hault. At least ten men came scrambling out of it.
These men wore masks. They opened fire at those who were fleeing and the second a siren was discernible, they separated in groups of three and entered three buildings.
And I saw them entering the hotel I was in.
I just couldnt move. I could hear gunshots downstairs.
I rose and looked at the open door. My thoughts went to my husband who had gone down to bring breakfast.
I saw a couple run past my room and I ran straight to join them.
But I stopped midway when I heard the woman scream. And then, multiple shots.
Was I going to die?
I heard commotion in the hallway.
Mechanically, I sprung into the closet space and slid its door close.
And I held my breath.
I switched off my phone lest it started ringing.
I no longer remember, how long I was in there.
I think I spent my entire life hiding out in that closet.
Almost as if all that had transpired in my life before that was lost in a haze. There was no beginning and I saw no end to that endless wait.
I was like a bullet mid air.