The tossing and turning of the waves, the unsettled rocks giving way to the water yearning to keep flowing. Keep on leaping. It desires something, the water. Everything in its path has to yield to whatever it wants. A little way away my kids playing next to me in calmer waters. Rocks under our feet still submitting to the demands of the water. I have always had a love/hate relationship with it. I have been in awe of seas, rivers, and lakes even. Now it’s just damaging, and it sweeps away what we want to keep. I realize that’s a childlike perspective but being an adult is really overrated when you’re standing over a roaring river and the guards are telling you to get your kids away from the water because it may not be deep but it is really fast. They slip once and no one can pull them back. ”They can’t be pulled back.” That’s what happened to him, to them. The water is not our friend. I keep my mouth shut and my brain even shutter, and sit far far away from where the boys are playing because I don’t want to hear these whispers. They have to go on living in this crazy world where the rivers are allowed to roam free. They can’t know about all the things that are not going to be their friend. Right now they need to make islands with stones, they don’t need to remember what the river took from them. I remember. That’s enough.
I can keep them from being swept up. After all, I’ve done it before. I kept him from being swept up for as long as I could. Everyone has to let go sometime. Water, land, the sky, it’s all a matter of time. I remember that day like today. The moment I got the news my youngest son was about to go under for a minor procedure. I had lost my nephew, and my son was about to be put under. No, I had to hold him down as they did. I told someone this, they said you should write this down. This is a class piece of writing. It really is, I thought.
Year’s later the river is still rolling, roaring, nothing did stand in its way. All I have accomplished is; I’m still here to write down our stories.
In memory of those, we will never forget.
In memory of those, we will always remember.
In memory of those that are, and always will be greater than any great wild…
In memory of shattered dreams and love that is unquestionably true.
I know we have been hearing and reading the news. All these killings, shootings, destroying lives. Hurt. People say where’s the heart? Why are the humans? Why are governments and our people heartless and lacking empathy? That may all be absolutely true. We can only speak from our hearts. Feels as though we only have our hearts left to give right now.
However, we’ve lost too much to not use our hearts. We’ve also lost too much to not be logical and calculated going ahead. We’ve just lost way too much. Every time something happens I surely some person with logic and a sane mind will see the tragedy and realize something needs to change. No one ever does. We need understanding that taking away what people love does not make them complicit. Surely someone, somewhere understands this. Then boom! I realize people who should see it, don’t. I mean literally…boom.
I am not just writing about one place; I am writing about all of our homes. I don’t have to give you the exact location. How many people who look like you, think like you, believe like you are dead because of people who didn’t think they deserved to be where they were, because of people who still think you and I are not important enough.
I hear people say things like, “these governments, these tyrants are just like Hitler” They are using the same tactics and their end goal is the same. Genocide.” Don’t use his example so casually. We don’t know. I’m not saying it’s not true, I’m just saying we don’t know. I’ve known people amongst my people who were massacred for merely wanting to survive. Just like the Jews. We don’t quote history because we are angry, and it gives our anger some direction to make these comparisons. We learn from those awful parts of human existence and move in a completely different direction. Everyone has a legacy; I want ours to be greater than just surviving.
Let me also say that when I say “my people” that definition is really wide. If there’s anything my friends and readers have learned about me, I hope it’s this. I am not just Muslim, Pakistani, American. I am also an immigrant (in more than one place), I also come from a long line of what people define as “terrorist” these days. I am brown. My descendants were forced to leave their homes, killed, burned and slaughtered for merely being all of that. I am all of us. At times like these my identity, it seems to melt away into dust, and smoke. The one thing that has always been the most center-point of my core all of a sudden isn’t.
I have been sitting on these thoughts for days. Haven’t uttered a word to anyone. Can you believe it?
I don’t like to have these discussions on my dinner table with acquaintances in a casual manner. I do however, like to avoid ignoring the issue as though it’s not my problem. It becomes my problem when the site of an armed guard at a mall has me instinctively pushing my kid behind me as though that would protect them from anything. My mental armor is always up as is for everyone around me, but the sad truth is that we all know we are exposed, we are already bleeding. We are gasping for every breath.
Our lives now are just about finding moments to escape the pain because we feel there’s nothing, we can do about the condition of the world we live in. All this hurts is so much that we want to imagine that it’s not happening if only for a moment. We can do that you see because no one is holding a gun to our head at this very moment. In this moment the nozzle is invisible, so we take advantage of it because the excruciating reality of what is to come is too unbearable. The helplessness is crippling.
I close my eyes and escape into whatever frivolous activity is nearest for that moment. Playing with my boys. Making forts under the blanket. Hiding under the covers with the kids and a sudden bang, and then a shake. I’m startle out of the state of comatose bliss. Was it just my kids dropping a toy? Was it something bigger? A bigger toy? A gun? A bomb? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Something definitely shook. I didn’t imagine that. There was a loud thud, I didn’t imagine that. I know I didn’t.
Whatever it is, it’s still invisible so I guess we’re safe. I hear it but I don’t see it. There has been so much that I have seen that’s pierced through me as has been the case for most of us on an individual level. I don’t think any of us is ready to accept it on a collective level for ourselves or for others. It’s here, right in front of me.
When I get out from under those covers will I be helpless? Will my kids be helpless to deal with whatever is waiting for them out there? Hopelessness is definitely crippling; however, I don’t think we are helpless. In fact, we are in the position to help. I know I have a responsibility to my children to not raise them to be blind to the truths of the world. Who am I if I don’t show them how to get out from in front of a bullet? What kind of a parent am I if I don’t teach them how to help a few people in the process?
There’s no revolution. No changing the world. There’s today, no one knows about tomorrow. Today, I don’t want to know that people died, and I didn’t try. Today, I want my kids to be proud of themselves knowing that somewhere something good happened, no matter how small, because of them. They might not be ready to change the world today, who knows where tomorrow is taking us though.