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Security Does Not Mean Safe
I placed my hands over my ears as if trying to escape from this mess they call Grand Central. “Grand Central is sooo stupid! How does anyone even get around this place? Absolutely no signs. None. It amazes me. It was designed to be a maze to make people lose their fricken heads trying to make it home for the holidays. I check my pockets for the 17th time to make sure I still have my ticket. I don’t get how people can deal with this place on a daily basis. Where do I even board my train? Zero signs.”
“Excuse me miss,” a faint voice inquired.
“If I miss my train I’m going straight to the architect of this stupid building and punching him straight in the face. Mark my words. Where’d Bakri go? Jesus, it’s like he forgets I’m even with-“
“Miss!” a young man dressed spiffily in uniform tapped my shoulder, “the man you’re traveling with left his bag at security.”
“Of course he did, thank you very much Sir,” trying with every muscle in my face to mask the frustration behind my eyes and teeth with a smile. “I’ll be sure to yell at him for you.”
He handed me Bakri’s bag. “Don’t worry, it happens all the time. Have a nice holiday now,” the security guard said.
“Just wave, finish up this pathetic smile, and walk away. You can do this Rita, only a few more hours and I’ll be able to relax. Where’s Bakri? I need to get a leash for him. He’s acting so bizarre today. Every time I see him it’s like he isn’t here. I married a child.”
Biiing. “We will begin boarding train A-7 at 9:45, Biing, we will begin boarding train A-7 at 9:45,”alleged the loudspeaker.
“Great. That’s 15 minutes to find my “pet”, Bakri, get through this elaborate labyrinth, and then barge through the impenetrable sea of New York snobs to board my train to relaxation. Alright. Where would Bakri even go without telling me? He does have some spec of intelligence, I hope. I feel like a combo of Sherlock Holmes and Ethan from Mission Impossible trying to figure this place out while racing against the clock to find Bakri and get him to A-7. That sounds cool.”
I begin to work my way through the thousands of people; squeezing in-between couples and barging through families. Not to mention the overwhelming number of the typical tourist; maps, fanny packs, camcorder, etc. Finally. The first sign shows itself:
“GATE 1: A-B TRAINS”
“Got it. Where’s Bakri!? Maybe he’ll actually answer his phone for once. 908-566-6130 come on Bakri pick up!” Nothing. “No way, is his phone is his stupid bag that he refuses to admit is a man-purse.” I opened the top of his man-purse and search for his phone. “Does he know anything about organization? Jeeze, what a snob. Eww, is that a ear plug or a chewed piece of gum? Ahh, there it is.” I reached past everything acting like its one big spider web and wrap my hand around his phone. “When did it get so big?” Not thinking twice about it I pull it out. “What?” Standing in the middle of the Grand Central, is me, a Pakistani woman, holding what seems to be the typical looking bomb you would see in an action movie; flashing lights, timer, odd looking cylinders; the whole nine yards. “What the f*** is this? No. Bakri no, this can’t be his, there’s no way, he wouldn’t harm a thing. But what if it…I can’t go to the authorities, I love him. It’s not his, I know it. I’ll find him; he’ll know what to do. It’s not his.” I go to burry it back in his bag and notice the timer is set to go off in 3:18
“That’s exactly when our train leaves. I have to warn everyone to get out! 3 minutes isn’t enough time to get 5% of these people out of here. Plus, the police will pin the whole thing on me, or my husband, if I go to them. How did this even get past security! This place deserves to blow up if they can’t even catch a bomb the size of a newborn’s torso! Did he mean to leave his bag at security? No. Stop thinking like that Rita, he’s your husband, he wouldn’t do that. WHERE IS HE!?” I start looking around like a maniac as if I was in a Where’s Waldo book. Everyone looks like him!
As I’m looking around I see the same security guard staring at me. Staring. Not just glancing around. Staring directly into my eyes. The look on his face isn’t suspicious though. It’s more like an eager/interested look. “ugh, pervert.” He started walking toward me, making his way through the crowd effortlessly. “What do I do? He knows I have the bomb!”
“Excuse me miss, do you need help finding your train?” the same security guard asked me.
“uhh, no I’m uhh good. I’m good, it’s A-7, right over there” I meticulously responded.
“…okay then, you better hurry up, your train is leaving soon and all the trains are full for the next two days” he replied.
“Does he know? No no that’s ridiculous. I had it in the open for a second. Some one saw it, they had to. No. No one saw, just relax Rita. He’s just a pervert. Alright think, be smart about this. My husband has a bomb in his bag, I am currently holding his bag, my husband is missing, and it’s going to go off at the same time my train leaves. I have to ditch it.
I take of Bakri’s bag and hold it down below the sight of everyone.
But all these people. They’ll die…I can’t live with that. But then again, I can’t live with people prosecuted as a terrorist. These people wouldn’t give me a chance. Of course I did it, I’m Pakistani. Why give them a chance? I have to ditch it. But there has to be security cameras, they’ll think I planted it. Wait, but they’ll see my husband leave it there and the security guard give it to me. Bakri. What are you doing? What did he get himself into? What did he get me into!? Why am I still holding this explosive man purse!? Why would he leave me here unless he knew this would happen? Just drop in. No one will see it in this ocean of New Yorkers.”
I look around suspiciously, double checking every angle around me and then drop it. “Wow that felt good, now get out of here Rita.”
I begin making my way to my train. Sweat dropping from every pore on my forehead. “Keep your cool Rita, I still have,” I glance down at my watch to check my progress, “2 minutes. 2 MINUTES! I have to get out of here!” I pick up my pace and start pushing through people. “If they knew what was happening they wouldn’t be acting so calm. Everyone is probably judging me, but little do they know.” Finally I see my train, quickly filling up with the fortunate people who will make it out of this alive; luckily I get to be one of them. I step through the doors and make it to the train. I look around in the little hope I have left to find Bakri. Nothing. “Maybe he called me!” I quickly whip out my phone and see two missed calls from him. “He better have something good to say” I immediately call him back and wait for his voice on the other line. I hear a fuzzy rumble and then his voice replaces it.
“Hey baby, I got held up in security, racist bastards. Did you take my bag? Don’t look in it! I have a surprise for you! It’s your gift!” Bakri frantically insisted.
“Oh. Okay I won’t, you better hurry up and get here, the train is leaving in 1 minute.”
“What! Oh no, there’s no way I can make that. Okay it’s okay; I’ll just catch the next one. Have a nice trip, Love you. Bye!”
“…Bye Bakri,” I sadly replied
“He knows. He put me in this situation on purpose…” sitting in between rows and rows of people I lost it. Broke down. “He tried to kill me along with thousands of people and now he is going to kill himself along with thousands of people. I don’t know what sounds better right now. I don’t want to be here, in this.”
Binng. “Please stand away from the doors. We will begin our departure at this moment,” the automated voice sentenced.
The train budged and began its escape. 30 yards down the tunnel was all this train would go. It went off. The bomb went off. Everything shaked, everyone screamed, everyone went silent. We are the fortunate ones.
1 Week Later in Pakistan
“Here I am watching my husbands face on every news channel; my husband was a terrorist…”
“Rita! It’s for you,” my Mother shouted from upstairs.
“The phone! What’s wrong with you?” she inconsiderately barked.
“Does she not know how much s*** I’ve been through?” I got up to get the phone, assuming it was a friend showing some concern I answered in no hesitation.
“Hello Mrs. Ghazini” an unfamiliar voice came through the phone
I didn’t answer. “Who is this? What if he knows everything? Everything that I-”
“Mrs. Rita Ghazini?” he impatiently repeated
“Hello, yes that’s me. Who am I talking to?” I said with a timid look on my face.
“Agent Lloyd of the FBI. You may want to listen very carefully to what I’m about to say. We know. We know what happened. We know things that you may not know. We have things that you should see. They may not be pleasant, but you need to see it. I’m sorry for interrupting your holiday, but you need to come back to the United States.” He insisted.
“I…I’m not involved with any of this.” I hopingly replied.
“You may not like it, but you are by association with your husband. We have arranged for you to be on a plane back to the United States in the next few hours,” he demanded.
Later that Night
“I can’t believe I am here, back in the same country that hates me.” I opened the door to Agent Lloyds office to see the typical straight as an arrow, fit, crew cut, intimidating white agent.
“Yes I know. Sit down,” he promptly offered.
I approached the chair and took a seat.
“Before I say anything you should watch this,” Agent Lloyd spit out.
He reached across his desk to a remote, pointed it at the impressively large TV and turned it on. There in front of me was a 55” screen of Bakri and I in security. It showed us going through security and I couldn’t help but smile, “he was the man I loved.” Being a gentleman he let me go through security first. It showed me getting pulled aside for a search, but I expected that being Pakistani. While I was getting pulled aside my husband walked through the metal detector, causing all sorts of commotion. He was pulled aside by the same security guard who was trying to help my in the station. He was asking Bakri questions about his travels and it looks like Bakri was getting heated up. He brought Bakri into the other room where they do personal security searches. “No wonder he answered the phone calling them racist bastards.” I didn’t even notice. I started walking off without him. He was never lost.
“Why are you showing me this,” I asked Agent Lloyd.
“This,” he responded
He picked up the remote and switched to another camera view. The TV was now showing my husband being searched in a secluded room. He looks furious. Everything looked routine until the same security guard that helped me took Bakri’s bag and began searching through it. He motioned to the security guard that his bag was clean, but then he left with the room with Bakri’s bag.
“Where is he going with that?” I questioned.
Agent Lloyd picked up the remote and switched the camera view once again. We were now watching an empty lounge room. It looks like the kind of room here the security guards go for their breaks. Waiting for something to happen, I couldn’t piece it all together. The same security guard came into room with my husband’s bag and placed it on the table. He then goes for another bag under the coffee table and puts them both in front of him on the table. He reached into the other bag and pulled it out. He pulled out the typical looking bomb you would see in an action movie; flashing lights, timer, odd looking cylinders; the whole nine yards.
“Is he-” I went to ask.
“Just watch,” Agent Lloyd interrupted.
The security guard tweaked with the bomb and then opened up Bakri’s bag. He hesitated, and the continued to bury it under the clutter in Bakri’s bag.
“It wasn’t Bakri?” I eagerly questioned.
“No, nothing will be blamed on Bakri. He was one of the thousands of people killed by animalistic terrorist attack,” he said in an angered tone.
“I guess that makes me feel a little better in a weird way.” How come he isn’t mentioning my role in this? I did drop a bomb in the middle of Grand Central? Maybe he didn’t see the security guard give me Bakri’s bag. No wonder the security guard was making sure I find my train! If that bomb made it onto A-7, the damage would have been a lot more catastrophic.”
“I think that’s everything. I’m sorry about your husband.” Agent Lloyd said.
“Thank you,” I replied in a hurry.
“Thank you for coming in and I’m sorry for the inconvenience placed on you in the past week for what we thought were your husband’s actions.” Hea apologized.
I nodded my head, pushed my chair back, got up and preceded to the door. “Typical racist American’s, targeting a Pakistani man as a victim to place an unthinkable crime on, and then the immediate reaction to think it was actually my beloved Bakri.” Although I lost my husband, I’m leaving here knowing he was still the great man I fell in love with and married.