“Aaisha, We will come tomorrow dear. We will have to leave now.” says Papa. Tears well up in my eyes. Papa looks at my face and then says “Alright 5 more minutes”. “Yes...Thanks papa.” I hug him and start running back. “I have to wait as well..so where is my hug ?”, asks my mother with an angry pretense.
I stop, slip a bit on the wet sand, turn around and run to hug my mother. ******* ******** ********
My body trembles by the violence of the blast and I wish the 6 month old in my womb does not feel it. I tighten my arms around my husband. “It will be over soon.” He assures me. He gets up and looks for my mom and dad in the corner of the room.
Another explosion and the bunker shakes. The dim light bulb hanging from the ceiling flickers. Smell of fresh dust seeps in to the bunker through the ventilation shaft. It is very close this time. My husband embraces me tightly. I could feel his heart thumping fast. He breaks the eerie silence that follows and asks, “Aaisha, are you OK ?”
My dad is slouched in his wheel chair and my mom is hovering over him as if to cover him from debris falling inside. I can see fear in her eyes and pain at her helplessness to protect the ones she loves the most. “Mother, dont worry. They dont strike the same area twice.” , my husband says.
And then it happens. I think our house took a direct hit. I see something break through the roof momentarily with a bright flash of light and I feel intense heat. I get flung back by the impact of the blast in to the mattress, leaning against the wall behind me. I ricochet and land on the floor on my back with shrapnel from the explosion hitting everything.
I feel a surge of pain in my leg and my forehead. Slowly but strenuously, I raise my head, crying out feebly for my husband, with my eyes looking around frantically for signs of life. The wall of the bunker has collapsed in front of me and I see a foot underneath the rubble. Warm blood starts flowing between my eyes and everything blacks out.
***** ****** ****** ****** ****** “Mummy..wake up.”. a sweet voice wakes me up. It sounds like my own voice on the beach with my parents and it is beautiful to listen to. I feel a much deserved silence inside me as thoughts of my haunting past fades away. The voice becomes stronger as I wake up with my eyes wide open.
“Mummy, come and see my sandcastle.” Amal says with a tint of excitement in her eyes. I think I slept on the beach. I get up holding Amal’s hand with my prosthetic leg lending support to my weight. I dust myself up and walk towards the water.
The sun is bright and the blue sky makes the sea look more beautiful. Near the beach stands a sandcastle and it looks perfect. It has a fence and a facade with smiley faces and even the pointy tower has got a window on the side. “Lovely Amal”, I say as I hug her tightly and kiss on her cheeks.
I have found refuge in an another shore but realise that the blue waters I see today are the same ones that caressed my feet long time back. They know me well and they don’t abide by man made boundaries. Life has come full circle for me. It gave me loving parents, friends and a caring husband. I lost most of them in the bunker that night.
I was called a miracle when they found me alive with my baby still kicking in my belly. I lost my limb but they saved my baby. It was a tragedy of epic proportions for me but at the end of it all, life gave me a reason to live for. It gave me a baby and I named her ‘Amal’- hope. She is my hope for a better tomorrow.
We walk towards the car and I sit in the front seat with my daughter by my side. “Mummy can you get me an ice cream today”, Amal asks. I look at the plaque on the dash. It reads, “A baby is God’s own way of saying the world must go on..” “Sure, my dear.” I say as I start my car.