It wasn’t a usual day, since she stepped out of her home. In one hand she clenched her sandwich as mayonnaise hastily poured out of it. Alizah was struggling to pile her books neatly with her arm serving as a pliant shelf. Her notebook was nestled in a network of notes. “I’ll surely miss the bus today, I can’t, I didn’t tuck money in my wallet to catch a rickshaw or a taxi, oh God! There is a really important lecture that won’t be repeated by the professor, there’ll probably be a discussion on political issues in the current affairs class”, she spoke to herself, while inadvertently chewing her lips. Luckily, she was able to persuade the conductor to let her in. “Listen! Uncle! please let me in, what if I’m late, the driver wasn’t punctual either”, Alizah added naughtily. “Come along now, hurry up! Don’t waste time”, the moustached and frowning conductor argued back. As she jumped on the seat and swallowed small bites of the sandwich, Alizah overheard a discussion between University students: “they killed him in Abbottabad, they got him!”
Trying to concentrate on her haphazard notes, Alizah being an inquisitive girl was equally curious about the discussion that her ears were detecting inevitably. Then she persisted in focusing her attention towards the notes as she mercilessly started to damage the skin around her finger nails. After some time the driver rashly applied the brakes that jolted the entire bus. Girls hopped in as a flock of birds hovering over bread crumbs. Fortunate among them enjoyed the luxury of rusted seats with torn covers. The less fortunate ones hung themselves with the support of rusted and dusty rods attached to the ceiling of the bus. Regardless of their positions, every passenger dwindled at every speed breaker or turn. “Ouch! Oops! Please be careful”, girls who usually travelled by their cars, but had to take the bus as a rare occurrence, complained frequently during the journey. For those who had ‘bus’ as the only option, giggled and engrossed in small morning chats, either through text messages or with their companions in the bus. Those obsessed with scoring high marks moved to and fro in order to memorize the text in weighty books. Alizah was planning about the day ahead. She was making a list of ‘things to do’ in her mind. During her way to University, she managed to assemble the following tasks: compiling presentation slides… Submitting my job tasks… Helping mother with the household chores as she is not feeling well… Making extra notes for a difficult topic of Psychology… Study the course, which the teacher hasn’t taught during half of the semester due to his busy schedule…
Before she could complete the list, the bus halted near her Institute at the University. Amid the disarranged mob of passengers, Alizah managed to squeeze through the exit door of the bus and instantly sniffed the fresh air. Much to her surprise, there wasn’t a single class conducted on that day. “What a waste of time”, she opined while meeting her friend, Amina, in the library. Her friend laughed out and said that it’s usual. “Quite right!”, Alizah remarked in a low tone. “So have you seen this, Bin Laden’s compound?”Amina inquired amusingly. “No, I didn’t!”, Alizah almost snatched the local English daily, Express Tribune, from Amina’s hand. “I don’t believe this! These NAVY SEALs can figure out fish food pellets from the deepest of seas and Osama Bin Laden, he wasn’t wearing an invisibility cloak (that too an undetectable one) while walking from Tora Bora to Abbotabad.” Alizah remarked sarcastically while looking closely at the diagram of the Abbottabad compound, printed in the newspaper. Amina started to randomly turn the pages of another newspaper. It was hot as the month of May had just begun. To make the conditions worse, electricity vanished. “Okay! I can’t sit in a boiler,” Amina immediately stood up, “I’m going out come along if you want to.” “Hey! Listen! Wait! Just a small portion of the news story is left”, Alizah nagged. “Come on! You can go home and read it online,” Amina grabbed Alizah’s arm as she insisted her to come out of the library.
Just as they pushed the glass door, a class fellow of Nepalese origin waved hello to them. “Hey there! What’s going on these days? So they got him from your very own Pakistan, you’ll attract a lot of tourists, anyway,” he laughed with abrupt pauses. Amina stared at him for a while and Alizah kept on looking down. The Nepalese continued, “amazing isn’t it, just a few kilometres away from the military headquarters, world’s most wanted man was residing their…” “We didn’t see him, did you see him? The CIA has reportedly killed him and threw his body in the sea, not less than some sort of ‘wizardry’. I wonder why don’t they call him ‘You-Know-Who’ or the Muggles’ Lord Voldemort considering the amount of fear associated with him” Alizah interrupted. “Haha!You have a good sense of humour, the whole world is believing that he is dead and along with that, your country will be known for hosting him. We’ll discuss it some other time, I have to go right now!”, the Nepalese waved good- bye to Alizah and Amina, the girls reciprocated in a friendly manner.
“I guess I should leave as well,” Alizah sought permission from Amina. “Yes let’s leave together”. The friends waded out of the corridor in a friendly manner, meeting peers and professors while moving out of the department till the time they reached the spot where the University bus used to halt for accumulating students in it. Alizah and Amina managed to step in first and they got a chance to sit together. However, Amina’s place of destination arrived earlier. They were talking about the lack of concern people had for such an important thing. On their way back, no one was discussing Bin Laden. People were frustrated by the power crisis. It was only when Alizah reached at a stop near her house that she heard two men saying: “Thank God! We’ll be safe now. He is gone!”
She just walked a mile or so that a thundering sound made her fly like a piece of paper that got charred and was carried with the wind. A suicidal attack! Alizah knew she had lost her connection with the physical world, a world which ought to be much safer without him (he who must not be named).
Originally written for the Voice of Youth by Fakiha Hassan Rizvi. http://thevoiceofyouth.com/2013/01/12/a-safer-world-after-him/