August 29, 2014 | by

She sat at the window side of the compartment. Three people joined her. She looked at them- a young couple with their little daughter had just entered. The couple seemed happily married and the woman was pregnant. She looked on. It was a happy family. Oh, she hated happy families!

She looked away and stared out of the window. But the laugh of the little girl made her look back at them. Her mind drifted to the old days- five years back, when she too had a family. She was a seventeen year old then, just getting to know life, in love with her first love, dreaming of becoming a doctor someday. She used to be a good student and the teachers liked her a lot. “You’ll be saving many lives someday”, they used to tell her. But `destiny had other plans for her.

Her name was Fariza, meaning “light”. And those moments on the train were the last moments of her life. She was well aware of it, but the other people on the train were not aware that those were the last moments of their life too. Fariza was a suicide bomber.

She exhaled deeply. She wondered what people on the last moments of their life were supposed to feel. She believed in no God so had no one to offer prayers. She had no one who would pray for her or miss her, she had no family. Family… The very word seemed to inject into her a fresh set of wounds. She too had a family once- her family- her father, mother and a little sister. They used to be happy. She remembered her mother oiling her hair, teaching her to cook, and her father had taught her cycling when she was an eight-year-old. She remembered her little sister Nazneen: a beauty she was, with brown eyes and golden curly hair. She remembered how excited she was when Fariza was gifted a watch by her father on her seventeenth birthday. “Didi, can I wear it? Please.” She had said. And those were the last words she had ever said.

The woman in the compartment offered her an apple. Fariza politely declined. Her thoughts wandered to the past again. Fariza and Nazneen were in their room admiring the watch when a group of unknown men suddenly entered the house. For absolutely no reason they started hitting her father with sticks. Her mother begged them to stop but they hit her too. Fariza held her sister’s hand and ran out of the back door. But the little girl would not leave her parents. She ran out of hiding and into her parents’ arms. The heartless men didn’t even spare the child and slapped and kicked her.

Outside her house, Fariza found the picture no better. People seemed to have abandoned all ways of civilization. Like bloodthirsty murderers they ran about with knives, killing anyone on their way. There was blood and burned bodies everywhere. Crying children with parts of their limbs gone lay on the streets. Some distance away she could see her school being set on fire. Dead people were all around. Some she could recognise, while some were charred beyond recognition. Some were half dead, lying in pain drinking their own tears, while some wept holding their dear one’s corpse in their arms. How quiet and peaceful things were a while ago. In a split second, everything was over.

Suddenly she heard a loud scream. “Nazneen!” Fariza cried out. She turned around and saw the men torturing her family. The scene numbed her. She saw them beat her father till they broke every bone in his body. She watched them strip her mother. Her family was burned alive in front of her eyes and she could do nothing about it. She was so helpless.

“How could they kill Nazneen?” she asked herself. “She was only a child. Innocent. What wrong did she do?” She wanted to fight them but knew she couldn’t.

Her anger swelled up every time she remembered the sight. She was angry. She remembered their blood curling screams, the smell of blood and burnt flesh, the sound of wailing, the half dead people, the pain, the anger; she could almost feel the heat of the fire that burned her people.

Someone touched her shoulder. She let out a gasp. It was the pregnant woman. “Are you okay?” she asked. “Yes, I’m fine,” Fariza lied. She was sweating and breathing heavily.

She looked at the watch. Seven minutes to twelve.

The little girl in the compartment was laughing and playing with her father. Just seven more minutes and the bomb tied to her would explode. Fariza would finally be dead; dead for the second time, for she had already died the day she had seen her family charred in their own home. It was to be her second death and she seemed to have no regrets about it. Many would have to die with her. It would become the headline for the next day’s newspapers. “It would make a good read,” she thought nonchalantly.

She was surprised at her own indifference. How unemotional she had become. She had no reason to be happy, or even to smile. A lifeless life she has been living all these years. In fact, she wouldn’t have been alive to see that day if Wasbir Khan had not taken care of her. He was the leader of a potential terrorist group. He provided her shelter and gave her a purpose of existence. “You are Allah’s child”, he would tell her, “And He saved you for a purpose”. And that day, she was to carry out that purpose. She couldn’t save her family from dying. But now she was going to provide them justice by killing all these people.

Or was she? Is this really ‘justice’?

She brushed aside the question from her mind. It was too late to think of it.

The little girl got down from her father’s lap and came up to her. She looked at her. She had brown eyes and golden curly hair. She reminded her of someone. The girl playfully held her hands and laughed. “Pari, don’t disturb the lady,” her mother called out.

“So her name is Pari,” Fariza thought. “An angel”. Fariza smiled- her last smile.

She looked at the watch again. Two minutes to twelve. Anytime now.

“Nice watch,” the lady commented. The little girl looked at it too. She seemed to like it.

Fariza suddenly became serious. A pang of guilt clutched her. She stared at the little girl in front of her. “Go away!” her eyes yelled. But she could utter nothing. “Nazneen…” she silently whispered. How can she kill Pari? She was only a child. Innocent. She wasn’t even born when they killed her people. And this family, the child the lady was carrying inside her… oh! They were all innocent. There were so many like them on the train! Images of death and pain passed her mind. Once again it numbed her. She didn’t want to do this. She didn’t want to kill Nazneen again. She can’t let this happen. Just another minute to go. Oh! What has she done!!!

“Didi, can I wear it? Please,” said the little girl.

And those were the last words she ever said.

~Story by Adwitiya Borah.

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