I’m sure the news has reached you by now. I hear the police cars outside, their deafening sirens a welcome change from the dead silence in the classroom.
I don’t think I will make it. It’s getting harder to breathe and I am feeling drowsy. I wish you were here. Fussing over me like you do when I hurt myself. You’re probably outside the school gates right now. I am hoping you can hear my thoughts.
We were in English period when they stormed into the class. It all happened so fast I didn’t have time to think. They shot ma’am first. “Get under your tables” she yelled before she fell to the ground. We scrambled to hide under them.
I sat still, my eyes on the floor as a pair of black shoes got closer and closer. His shoes were a lot bigger than mine. I was too afraid to look at his face. He shot me twice. One in each leg. I fell to the floor in seconds. Ahmed who sat beside me screamed when he saw the blood oozing out of my legs. They shot him in the chest thrice. No one screamed after that.
I lay very still and pressed my eyes shut. Pretending to be dead as I waited to get shot again. Each time I heard a gunshot, I would hold my breath and wait for the pain. But they didn’t shoot me again. “We’re done here. Keep moving” someone said. Their footsteps ringing in my head long after they were gone.
I lay there, looking around the classroom. The silence interrupted only by the sound of the fan, that continued to spin as if nothing had happened.
You know Ma, I realise that lives have no value.
It makes me wonder why you insisted that I finish my homework before school. Why you spent hours teaching me geometry. Why you get angry when I chew loudly. Doesn’t it seem like such a waste now?
To spend our time on petty things, like Potassium’s position in the periodic table, learning my mother tongue, or remembering to be a gentleman. None of it could save me.
At dinner yesterday, you told me not to eat another jamun. That if I take care of my health, I would live a long life. Ma, it seems so ridiculous now, that we celebrated my birthday last week. The cake, the presents, my favourite caramel pudding. Like a prank we didn’t know we were falling for.
In these 5 minutes I realised, that the world has no appreciation for beauty. For friendship. For laughter.
It didn’t matter to them that Zara was to perform for us after class this afternoon. That Ahmed and I planned on buying ice-cream after school. That Samah was going to get the prize for being the Science topper. Everyone died anyway.
You know ma, we invest in our lives with such a relentless passion, not once realising how fragile it is. You drive me to music class twice a week. Mark sums on my textbook for me to answer. You tell me to remember to be polite, learn my lessons and eat healthy.
But ma, no one was spared. Not even the ones who finished their breakfast. The ones who handed in their homework. Or the ones who prayed this morning.
Ma, I don’t think I can stay awake much longer. And I think I will breathe my last, lying on this battlefield of scattered bodies, shoes and stationery.
My English textbook lies beside me on the floor. Still open on the same page it was at when they stormed in. I close my eyes one last time, because I cannot bear to look at it any longer.
Seems almost absurd now, that a world like this, could inspire poetry.