Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Forgotten Privilege

Some things just hit you deep. Like the murder of more than 140 children. They will never know the joys of growing up. Of realizing that wanting to be an astronaut doesn't mean you'll become one. Of falling in love, only to fall in and out of it many times over. Of holding their children, their grandchildren. Instead, they were subjected to a riddle of bullets and the thump of black boots.

"I will never forget the black boots...it was like death approaching me."

A survivor of the massacre said this. It is now an international headline. Condolences are pouring in...no, thundering in...from all over the world. But really, what's the point? I can express my sorrow, but that's just another way of washing away my guilt; I am alive and they are dead, solely because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time. What will the parents of the deceased do with my sympathy? I presume they want to be left alone, left in peace to mourn the death of their child. Sometimes, being alone is the greatest comfort.

"I will never forget the black boots...it was like death approaching me."

I close my eyes, and I am there now. Fear is an understatement. I have never felt such intensity, such a sense of self-preservation in my life. My legs are numb, but my mind is burning with hope. Live, it says. My friends, my teachers, the life that I was living a few minutes ago, is no more. What remains is a twisted, torn, ingested, shredded version of that life. The Allah that the black-booted men remembered before shooting us is the same Allah I remember now. He is all I have left. 

Once upon a time, I believed in the goodness of people. With every season, the foundation of this edifice slowly chips away. And yet, surprisingly, it stands strong. Because tragedy, on its journey to rediscovering sanity, has the uncanny ability to build resilience. Resilience leads to survival. Survival leads to living. Let the memory of this incident make us stronger. Let's continue living, for life must not remain a forgotten privilege.

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