By Larabe Farrukh Chaudry
It was a Sunday, but not just any other Sunday, it was the Sunday on which abba jaan had promised to take me out to the park. I had been waiting for this day for weeks now and I was unbelievably excited. Ammi jaan gave me a new pair of shoes to go along with my Spiderman shirt, I swear it was the happiest day of my life.
I kept roaming around the house all day, anxiously waiting for abba jaan. Ammi had been laughing and admonishing me lightly for my impatience but I couldn’t help it. Finally someone knocked at the door, I scurried to open it, it was abba jaan of course and he had brought my uncle’s motorcycle just like he had promised. I was over the moon.
I am an 8 year old, and this was my first motorcycle ride ever. I got to sit in the front, a little scared I was but it was worth it. We rode through the dimly lit streets of Iqbal town, the feeling of the wind blowing against my face was euphoric. I was the king of the world!
We finally reached our destination, I looked up at the sign and spelled “ Gulshan-e-Iqbal” , so it was real after all and I was actually there. Overwhelmed as I was, I held on to abba jaan’s hand while he bought tickets for us. As I entered the park through its barred gates I stood and stared in awe. It was better than I had ever imagined, for someone who had never been to any other place beside his grandmother’s house, this was the ultimate heaven.
The lights, the striking colorful lights of the rides, the whooshing sound they made as they went round and round, the screaming and laughing of the hundreds of the children around me, the smell of freshly popped popcorns, and the songs that played in the background, Oh my Oh my! My eyes twinkled with joy. I held both amma and abba jaan’s hand, as we headed towards the first ride. A little nervous I was as I climbed on to the marry go round horse. The ride started and my world began to spin, “aur taiz! aur taiz!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. Ammi abba kept waving at me as I laughed and waved back.
It was at that moment, when a sound louder than a hundred canons pierced through my ears, I let go of the handle and plugged my ears with my fingers to avoid that unbearable sound. Everything began to tremble. I fell off my ride onto the ground, into the darkness and suddenly it all went pitch black.
I do not know what happened after that, somehow I couldn’t see. But I could hear them, hear them scream and I knew that this wasn’t a scream of joy, it was a cry of terror. My entire body was shuddering, as I lay there lifeless. The screams slowly turned into howls but I couldn’t move an inch of my body.
Suddenly, I heard a familiar voice and footsteps rushing towards me, it took me less than a second to recognize ammi jaan’s voice. I cannot describe what I felt at that moment when she picked me up and held me close to herself. I cannot describe what I felt when I was able to open my eyes again and hers was the face I saw. I cannot describe what I felt when she spoke my name and said “ Ahmad, ammi a gaye hain beta, rona nahe”. I was reborn, and I cried like an infant, muffled sobs with my face buried in her shawl. I held on to her as tightly as I could, scared that I might lose her again. She stood up with me grasping tightly on to her, and she told me that we had to find abba jaan.
I noticed for the first time that she had blood stains on her face and shawl, and that she had difficulty walking. The air that smelled of popcorns now smelled like blood and gunpowder. The noises that once filled me with joy, now filled me with horror. Amma told me that she had lost abba in the stampede that followed the blast. We began searching everywhere, amma started praying loudly, her voice trembling and I began to cry. Suddenly, amma shouted out my father’s name, she had found him! He was lying on the ground, wounded but alive. I ran towards him, kissed his hands and we sat there close to each other, waiting for someone to help us out of our misery.
From where I sat I witnessed a scene that has been deeply engraved in my memory, it was chaos. For the first time ever I saw dead people and dead children. I witnessed something that no child should ever witness, I looked down and noticed that my new shoes were stained with blood. I closed my eyes and prayed that when I opened them again, this would all be a nightmare, but to no avail. I just wanted to get out of that hell, I just wanted to go home with my parents and never leave again.