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Reality Shaking This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

To them, it was like rain. An everyday, repetitive shower that would wash away the mud from the old ones. They hadn’t seen a world outside the rain. They had to just live with it. Whether or not they got mud on their shoes, they would still go about with their daily lives, because everybody else was going through it too. But to me, it was reality shaking me from the deepest roots to remind me that my life was not something I deserved. We always saw the rain. And we always felt bad for people who got stuck in it forever. And we always understood too, didn’t we? Yeah. Yeah, of course. Until we got stuck too. The problem with this rain was that no one was there to predict it. The bombs detonated and people died. That was it. But much more died that day for me.
The dusty, smeared-over chalk-board was off by a day, still reading “7th March, 2010.” The air held the essence of a neglected teacher’s desk, with the dust, and the chalk, and the pencil shavings all becoming one to remind us yet again that our daily lives were still going on. Mrs. Shazia was yelling at us about how the preposition comes after the verb “help”. And of course, my friends and I. We were talking about how the cricket match last night was influenced heavily by the side batting in the first inning. Fingers tapping against the rough, written on wooden desk, I was just taking it all in.
I was interrupted. Not by the teacher who should have had a sore throat by now, but by destruction in its most natural form. The floor was shaking violently. Our door was suddenly opened and closed and the rest of the doors in the hallway did the same. A wave of shaking windows came and went all in a matter of three seconds. I stood up. Grabbing hold of my desk and my neighbor’s, I tried to balance myself. It was over. That was it. Wait- what was it? Was that an earthquake? It had to be- the floor had completely shaken! What else could it have been? Was that an earthquake? I’m sure it was. It was all too much to take in- My heart pounding, my tongue numb, my eyes darting from corner to corner.
A custodian stepped in, and was quickly ambushed by my classmates. “What happened, sir?” The kids’ questions all overlapping each other, their words fighting to stampede over the others’ so that their inquiry stood out victorious.
“Taliban go boom boom,” He said with broken English and a grin. I looked up at him, not believing that what I had just felt was a bomb.
The kids laughed “Well, at least we’re alive.”
It was all caught in a swirling blur after that, my thoughts rummaging through my head to find consolation over the surreal truth that I had just witnessed. “So this is what it feels like,” I thought. This is what it felt like when the merciless truth hits you that when someone’s anger translates into chaos, life is just a cold privilege: An excuse that must be exploited by the depths of their sadistic vision. We were just the guinea pigs in the magic act of the bad guys. And of course, our government was too.
I went home after spending hours worrying about my family… “My mom, my dad, my sister, my grandma, my house… It’ll all be there, right?” The questions plagued my mind during that haunted hour. My mom, my dad, my sister, my grandma, and my house were all fine. Life was undisturbed. Granted, we all had heard the bomb on the far end of the city, we had felt the vibration of the menace, we had worried about each other. But it was all normal. Like rain. Still part of the never-ending illusion that we wanted to keep on seeing until it killed us from the inside. The day was spent in front of the TV, each reporter trying to make the story original and real. Making sure that we all knew the exact details of a plot that was planned to kill us all. And in the evening, the Azaan, the call for prayer echoed through the house, multiple times from the minarets of all the mosques near us and just a block away from each other. It felt like mockery. Praying? After those radicals wanted us to turn to the conservative Tarturus reserved for the blind? Well. I guess it was alright since it was raining.
The day was enclosed in my memories forever. Other days were added to the collection. Sometimes I went to sleep hearing the gunfire in the city. A civil war. No. A Civilian War. I went to Pakistan as an American. I was familiar with the culture, the food, the everything. But not the rain. We all think of thunderstorms and the pounding rain as something bad, but whether we like it or not, the rain makes the trees grow. And if you want the best of this world, then perhaps you should wait after the storm to find the rainbow.




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