I was always comfortable with blood. Being a biology student, I had seen my fair share of dissections, pin pricks, slides, and injections. It never made me queasy, and I was proud of that. Yet as I grew older, certain images of blood made me uncomfortable. Like the blood-soaked bodies of genocide victims, sprawled along a pathway in Rwanda. Or wounded soldiers oozing blood through muslin bandages. Or the distraught, terror-stricken, aimless wanderings of those who have just gone through a bomb blast. They were always distant, these images and articles and narratives. Tonight, I was in the same city where three serial bomb blasts took place. Minimum figures account for ten dead and a hundred injured. As I stared at the pixelated “Breaking News” footage flashing on the television screen, I saw blood, and I felt fear.
The back of his shirt was drenched in red. It looked so artificial, almost surreal. People were calling me, sending me messages, checking to see if I was safe. Some calls went through. I tried calling others but the lines were jammed. A hint of panic creeped into my psyche. So this is what it’s like. Is it? No, I have no idea what it’s like.
The parents of the girl who went to hang out with her friends, the wife waiting for her husband to come home, they are the ones that will remember this day for the rest of their lives. Perhaps phones were not picked up, perhaps justifications were given, perhaps the police, friends, and family were called. Is it worse for those who survived, but remain in critical condition? Such a limbo is surely the worst kind of emotional torture. Perhaps a quick, numbing notification is too much to handle, the kind of surprise that breaks you immediately. Hope is a savior. It’s also an invitation to the End, no RSVP required.
I feel afraid for those who live, who dread the unknown, because of the pain and loss it can bring. I feel afraid for those who don’t care anymore, because they’ve seen three bomb blasts in one city in less than two decades. I feel afraid for myself, because despite being merely kilometers from a site of terrorist activity I will continue to live my life as if it will last till I am 110. There’s no urgency in expressing love, confronting phobias, or taking risks. Tomorrow will be just another day, and that scares me. I am conditioned to ignore my fear, bury the image of that bright red stain, and distance myself from chaotic thoughts. Desensitization, so this is what it’s like, is it? No, I have no idea. Really.