They pulled up at the red signal. A car stopped to their left. They could only see the man, though there was a woman next to him too.
Two men came with guns in their hand, their faces covered. They pulled up the tinted windows, and looked in front of them, immobile. They came to the car next to them. Voices could be heard; then a gunshot.
Aneeta looked up, her eyes wide with wild fear and vulnerability. As the bloodcurdling screams of the woman hit their ears, she began screaming too. Hysteria.
The lights on the signal turned green. They moved forward, his mother trying to calm her down.
The next day was Saturday. On Monday, Hamza did not come to school. He phoned him. The incident was more than he could contain. He told him everything he had seen. Then asked him why he had been absent.
“It was my father.” The phone went dead.
His parents were separated. Somehow, after five years, they had made up. HE lived with his mother. It was the day they were meeting; they had been going out for dinner. He had remained home.
Everything that happened; everything that was bad; every “just one of so many:” it was always others. Wasn’t it? Just one in hundreds, thousands, and millions- it was never supposed to be him! Then why?
He knew why: his father always kept a gun with him; yet he had not used it this once. He was not going to let such a day come to him. He never would be confounded.
“Give me the ball, Aneeta.”
“No, I will not; and you can’t take it from me.”
“Oh yes I will,’ He said as he lunged towards her. She dodged and he fell on his face. He got up and lunged again; fell again. He grimaced as the other children jeered and clapped.
“You are going to pay for it,” He scowled.
“Ahan? What are you going to do, really?” She jeered, encouraged by the clapping.
“Oh, I will get my father to blow up your house. He is in a high office, you see? So he can do it.” He made an evil face.
She froze. The ball dropped from her hand. She started screaming. By the time the teachers came, she was hysterical. Her parents were called. She was sent home early, still screaming.
I am so worried about my little angel! Things have not been the same since the day we witnessed the accident. I had kept her face down, my hand on her neck; yet in that moment of weakness when my grip lightened, she saw it. I am sure she did! I am sure she saw the blood too.
She has nightmares too. Not a day in the past month have I not woken up at night by her screaming. She does not seem to remember in the morning. Every time, her eyes are glazed and she mutters strange, undecipherable things wildly. Then she begins to shout them, her arms flailing; and then, as if exhausted, she falls into bed again. Next minute, she is snoring.
The first day it happened, Atiq and I stood at opposite ends of her bed. When I looked up, I saw disorderly trepidation on his face. I am sure it reflected mine. We took an appointment the very next day from a psychiatrist at Liaqat National. It is scheduled for the day after tomorrow. I dread it, but I can’t wait for it either. We went to the park last week and Aneeta began raving about peeking eyes in the bushes. We hurried her home; she was panting all the while; we put her to bed.
We don’t watch news in front of her anymore now. Not with the ever disturbed conditions of the city, and the other time she got distraught about it.
I wish God would erase two days from my life: the Friday a month back, and the day after tomorrow!
The school still has not told us anything about what happened the day we brought her back early.
I am so apprehensive about everything now! God bless!
p.s. The accident we saw that day; the man was Hamza’s father. We went in a shock when Asfand told us. We went to pay our condolences that Tuesday. His mother was in a state: I did not know that they were making up. Asfand settled after a week. I hope Hamza and his mother are okay now.